For many crimes and traffic offenses in North Carolina, a conviction can result in the revocation of a person’s driver’s license. However, is the state of North Carolina legally allowed to revoke the driver’s license of a person charged with a crime prior to his or her conviction? The answer, unfortunately and astonishingly, is “yes.”
For a North Carolina resident facing an alcohol related offense (or as it is sometimes called, an implied consent offense), there may be a pretrial revocation of driving privileges.
A pretrial revocation most commonly occurs in the following four situations:
1) Legal Limit – when a driver charged with an implied consent offense registers a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or above reading on a chemical test;
2) Commercial DWI – when the driver of a commercial vehicle registers a .04 BAC or above on a chemical test;
3) Driving After Drinking Underage – when a driver under the age of twenty-one registers a .01 BAC or above reading on a chemical test; or
4) Refusal – when a driver charged with an implied consent offense refuses to submit to an implied consent offense test.
Typically upon being charged with an offense where a pretrial revocation occurs, the person’s driver’s license is suspended for 30 days (what is called a 30 Day Civil Revocation), and the suspension may be even longer (up to 45 days total).
What Can I Do?
The person charged with the offense may be able to get a limited driving privilege that allows him or her to drive during the final 20 days of the 30 day civil revocation (or final 15 days of the 45 day revocation).
It is also possible for the driver who has been charged to request a hearing for the sole purpose of contesting the validity of the pretrial 30 day civil revocation. If you think you were unjustly charged, or if the pretrial revocation was too harsh a punishment for not having been convicted, then this may be a route for you.
This hearing, however, must occur within 3 working business days of the request filed, if the driver requests it in front of a magistrate judge, or within 5 working business days if the driver requests it in front of a district court judge (see our blog for Driving While Impaired Frequently Asked Questions). There is a limited window of when this hearing may be successful, so it is important to speak with an experienced attorney who is aware of the deadlines when it comes to pretrial license revocation.
For a person who has a commercial driver’s license (CDL), contesting the civil revocation might be critical in order to avoid losing the CDL.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI, and you would like information on how to obtain a pretrial limited driving privilege and whether or not a hearing regarding the validity of the pretrial revocation has merit, contact us at Minick Law, P.C. for a free consultation on your case.