Limited Driving Privileges in N.C.

A driving privilege allows a driver with a revoked license to drive under certain enumerated circumstances. A “limited driving privilege” is a judgment issued in the discretion of a court for good cause shown authorizing a person with a revoked driver’s license to drive for essential purposes relate to any of the following:

  1. Employment
  2. Maintenance of driver’s household
  3. Educational purposes
  4. Court ordered treatment or assessment
  5. Court ordered community service
  6. Conditions of probation
  7. Emergency/medical purposes
  8. Religious worship

When given the limited driving privilege, the driver is restricted to the essential purposes listed above. It is important to note that any driving that is not related to the categories listed above is unlawful even if that driving is during the allowed times and on the allowed routes. However, driving related to emergency medical care is authorized at any time and without restrictions. Crucially, a limited driving privilege can apply to work-related purposes in standard working hours, as well as nonstandard working hours.

  1. Standard Working Hours – Between 6 AM and 8 PM Monday through Friday.
  1. Nonstandard Working Hours – All other hours and weekends especially.

Is Everyone Eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege?

In order to be eligible for a limited driving privilege, all of the following requirements must be met:

  1. At the time of the offense in question:
    1. the driver either held a valid driver’s license or a license that had been expired for less than one year;
    2. no convictions of impaired driving within the last seven years;
    3. the judge punished the driver to a level three, four or five for a driving while impaired conviction;
    4. no NEW charge was picked up for driving while impaired; and
    5. driver has obtained and filed with the court a substance abuse assessment.

If only convicted of driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol or drugs, a 18,19, or 20-year-old driver can earn a limited driving privilege.

However, If the applicant was 18, 19, or 20 years old at the time of the offense, he/she may not receive a limited driving privilege if his/her conviction was under either:

  1. N.C.G.S. 20-138.1 (DWI) OR
  2. N.C.G.S. 20-138.1 (DWI) and N.C.G.S. 20-138.3 (Driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol or drugs).

When Do I Have to Put the Blow ‘n Go in My Car?

Under N.C.G.S. § 20-179.3(g5), ignition interlock is required if a person’s driver’s license is revoked for a conviction of impaired driving, and the person had an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more. Additionally, if you are convicted a DWI within seven years of a prior conviction for DWI, a blow and go is required. Further, if a person is sentenced at an Aggravated Level One sentence, they will also need a blow and go. In order to obtain a limited driving privilege, a judge will require:

  1. A restriction that the applicant may operate only a designated motor vehicle.
  2. That designated motor vehicle will be equipped with a functioning ignition interlock system of a type approved by the Commissioner, which is set to prohibit driving with an alcohol concentration of greater than 0.02.
  3. The applicant personally activates the ignition interlock system before driving the motor vehicle.

Effective June 1, 2022, a person who is ordered by a court, or required by statute, to install an ignition interlock system to lawfully operate a motor vehicle, but who is unable to afford the cost of an ignition interlock system, may apply to an authorized vendor for a waiver of a portion of the costs of an ignition interlock system.

Most importantly, the time and purpose limitations (like for a general limited driving privilege) are eliminated if ignition interlock is ordered as a driving condition and the person is driving a designated vehicle equipped with ignition interlock.