When is a Limited Driving Privilege not a Privilege to Drive?

Jim SlaughterWhen a person finally reaches the age that he/she is qualified to receive a Driver’s License from the State of North Carolina he or she sees the opportunity for freedom from parental control and interference…at least that is what my children envisioned. I, as the parent, despite the dangers of driving enjoyed the freedom from car pools, endless trips to school, doctors’ appointments, tutoring lessons and sports practices. However a License is just a privilege to drive and is subject to revocation by the Department of Motor Vehicles under a variety of statutes, rules and regulations. Recently, I represented a young man, age 19 at the time of his offense, wherein he was charged with Driving While impaired and Driving with Alcohol in his system under the age or 21. After negotiations with the District Attorney the 2nd charge was dismissed and my client was convicted of the single offense of Driving While Impaired. This conviction brings with it a one year revocation of the young man’s privilege to drive in North Carolina. However, if it is a 1st DWI and a level 5 under the statute he can obtain a limited driving privilege for work, school and other activities of daily living. DMV in its omnipresent wisdom and power, more power than wisdom, however has taken the position and is actually sending letters to Judge’s that grant limited driving privileges under these circumstances stating the Limited Privilege is invalid and that if stopped the young man will be guilty of driving while his license is revoked. A misdemeanor offense. DMV bases its opinion upon the fact that even though convicted of only one offense, the DWI, the young man was guilty of the 2nd charge and as a result his license is subject to revocation under the 2nd charge, therefore, he cannot obtain a valid limited driving privilege. The moral of this story is that even if a lawyer can obtain a limited privilege because a Judge believes that DMV cannot revoke without a conviction the client is at risk in that DMV will take the position and reflect in their records that the privilege is invalid. So, long and short, don’t drive after drinking…especially if you are less than 21 years of age as you cannot obtain a valid privilege to drive if you are convicted of the single offense of Driving While Impaired.