Driving on a Suspended License in North Carolina

Speeding, alcohol offenses, and certain criminal convictions are just some of the reasons your license may be suspended or revoked. Driving when your license is revoked is a crime that can have serious consequences.

Reasons for Suspension or Revocation

Your license may be suspended or revoked for alcohol-related offenses, certain convictions, or other reasons. For example, your license may be suspended if you:

  • accumulate a certain number of points for certain traffic offenses on your license within a three-year period
  • have been convicted of illegal transportation of alcoholic beverages, or
  • are convicted of speeding over a certain speed, a certain number of speeding tickets or a certain combination of speeding tickets and reckless or aggressive driving. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-16.)

Your license may be revoked for certain alcohol related offense, including if you:

  • fail or refuse a chemical test to determine whether you are driving under the influence, or
  • are convicted of impaired driving. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-16.2, § 20-17.)

It may be revoked if you are convicted of:

  • manslaughter or negligent homicide, if it was the result of your driving
  • a felony, if a vehicle was used
  • failing to stop after a crash
  • two convictions for reckless driving or one conviction each for reckless driving and aggressive driving within 12 months
  • a second or subsequent conviction for transporting an open container of alcohol
  • certain offenses relating to explosives
  • a second or subsequent conviction of motor fuel theft (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-17.)

Your license may also be revoked if you fail to appear for a hearing or fail to pay fines or penalties for certain traffic offenses. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-24.1(a).)

Suspension or revocation may occur for other many other reasons.

Reinstating Your License

Your driver’s license may be suspended or revoked for varying periods of time. After your period of suspension or revocation expires, you may have to pay a restoration fee and other fees before you may legally drive again. The restoration fee will be $50 for many revocations. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-7(i1).) If your license was revoked for driving while impaired, you may be required to pay a $100 restoration fee. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-7(i1).)

You do not have to pay a restoration fee if your license was revoked or surrendered for medical or health reasons. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-7(i1).)

Criminal Charges for Driving While Revoked

If you drive while your license is revoked, you may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. (N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-28.)

Your sentence may involve a fine and possibly jail time. The court decides the amount of fine for a Class 1 misdemeanor. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.23(b).) A jail sentence may depend whether you have previous convictions for driving after suspension or revocation.

  • If you have no prior convictions, or one to four prior convictions, you may be sentenced to a minimum of one day in jail and a maximum of 45 days in jail. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.23(c).)
  • If you have five or more prior convictions, you may be sentenced to a minimum of one day in jail and a maximum of 120 days in jail. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1340.23(c).)

Your license may be revoked for an additional year or period of years. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-28.)

In certain circumstances, your vehicle may be seized. For example, your vehicle may be seized if you commit the offense of driving while impaired, and your license was revoked as a result of a prior driving while impaired conviction. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-28.3(a).)

Legal Help for Driving While Your License is Revoked

Consider discussing your case with an attorney if you are charged with driving while your license is revoked. This charge carries the possibility of fines, jail time, and an additional license revocation. These penalties may affect your ability to get to work or school, may affect your insurance rates, and may create difficulties in other areas of your life. While the law provides specific penalties for the crime, the view local prosecutors and judges have of the crime also determines your sentence. An attorney who is familiar with these charges in your area will be able to give you specific information about your case.

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