Driving on a Suspended License in North Carolina

Criminal charges for operating a vehicle during a license revocation or suspension.

By , Attorney

In North Carolina, lots of different circumstances can lead to license suspension or revocation. And, if you get caught driving during the period that your license is revoked or suspended, you'll likely face criminal charges.

Reasons for Suspension or Revocation

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

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

Your license can be revoked for certain alcohol-related offenses, including if you:

You'll also face license revocation if you're convicted of:

  • vehicular homicide
  • using a vehicle in the commission of a felony
  • 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, and
  • certain offenses relating to explosives.

However, this is just a partial list—suspension or revocation can result for many other reasons.

Reinstating Your License

After your period of suspension or revocation expires, you may have to pay a restoration fee and meet certain requirements before you can legally drive again. In many cases, the restoration fee is $65. But for suspensions related to impaired driving, the restoration fee is typically $130.

Criminal Charges for Driving While Revoked

If you get caught driving while your license is revoked, you can be charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense. Most offenses are class 1 misdemeanors. But if you're suspension or revocation was for impaired driving, the offense will be a class 3 misdemeanor.

Fines for convictions are up to $200 for a class 3 misdemeanor and at the discretion of the judge for a class 1 misdemeanor. The possible jail time for a class 3 misdemeanor is generally one to ten days. Class 1 misdemeanors generally carry one to 45 days in jail.

In many cases, the convicted motorist will also face an additional period of suspension or revocation.

Legal Help for Driving While Your License is Revoked

Driving on a revoked or suspended license carries serious penalties. If you've been arrested for one of these offenses, get in contact with a qualified defense attorney. An experienced attorney can tell you how the law applies in your situation and help you decide on the best course of action.

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