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DWI License Restoration And Ignition Interlock Devices

Can my license be restored after a DWI conviction?

In general, persons convicted in North Carolina of driving-while-impaired can seek to have their driving privileges restored, subject to certain conditions imposed by a court of law. One common condition imposed upon drivers convicted of DWI is the installation of an ignition interlock device.

What are ignition interlock device, and who has to use them?

A person convicted of driving while impaired under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-138.1 who had an alcohol concentration of .15 or more can seek restoration of limited driving privileges, however in addition to any other restriction or condition imposed, a court shall require the person to “operate only a vehicle that is equipped with a functioning ignition interlock system.” See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-17.8(a)(1).

An ignition interlock system is a device, similar to a breathalyzer, that is installed on a motor vehicle’s dashboard and which can measure the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of a person’s breath. Persons convicted of DWI whose alcohol concentration at the time of their offense was 0.15 or more will not be able to trigger the ignition of the motor vehicle if the ignition interlock device registers an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater.

Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-17.8(a)(2), persons who have been convicted of two impaired-driving offenses within a seven-year period must also have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles, however persons convicted of two impaired-driving offenses whose driving privileges are restored cannot drive with an alcohol concentration greater than 0.00.

In general, repeat DWI offenders and drivers whose offenses were considered “aggravated” due to associated crashes, injuries to persons and other aggravating factors cannot exercise driving privileges without the use of an ignition interlock device. Persons convicted of aggravated offenses cannot drive with an alcohol concentration greater than 0.00.

For how long must a person convicted of DWI use an ignition interlock device?

In general, North Carolina law provides for a correlation between the seriousness of underlying offenses and the restoration of driving privileges to persons convicted of DWI. For instance, if the circumstances under which a person was charged and convicted of DWI were such that a person’s license was revoked for one year, then the person must employ an ignition interlock device for one year from the date of one’s license restoration.

If a person’s license was revoked for a period of four years, then the person must employ the ignition interlock device for a period of three years from the date of license restoration.

Finally, if an original revocation was permanent, then the person whose license has been restored must use an ignition interlock device for a period of seven years from the date of license restoration.

What if other people drive the car I own that has the ignition interlock system in it?

A person whose license is restored on the condition that he or she install an ignition interlock system in one’s vehicle “shall have all registered vehicles owned by that person equipped with a functioning ignition interlock system.”

Persons convicted of DWI who are the owners of so-called “family vehicles” may seek a waiver on installation of an ignition interlock device if such motor vehicles are used exclusively by other family members.

These waivers are considered by the Division of Motor Vehicles on a case-by-case basis. Under the law, the division considers the “financial hardship to the person subject to” the ignition interlock restriction in deciding whether or not to grant a waiver.

What happens if I buy a new car or remove the ignition interlock?

Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 20-17.8(c1), if a person subject to an ignition interlock condition purchases a vehicle without an installed ignition interlock system or removes an ignition interlock system from a vehicle, the DMV will cancel the person’s driver’s license.

In addition, a person who violates any of the ignition interlock restrictions ordered by a court “commits the offense of driving while license revoked under G.S. 20-28(a) and is subject to punishment and license revocation as provided in that section.”

What should I do if I have been convicted of DWI and need to have my license restored?

The best thing you can do at any stage of your DWI case is to secure the representation of an experienced DWI attorney. The team of experienced DWI attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC fight on behalf of drivers in courtrooms across North Carolina every day. Our team of experienced professionals handle DWI cases in Charlotte, Mecklenburg County as well as in surrounding areas like Concord or Cabarrus County, Monroe or Union County, Albemarle or Stanly County, Gastonia or Gaston County, Lincolnton or Lincoln County, Newton and Hickory or Catawba County, and Statesville and Mooresville or Iredell County, Salisbury or Rowan County and beyond.

If you or someone you know has been charged with DWI, please give us a call today at (704) 370-2828 Let us get started on your defense!