North Carolina Drivers License Hardship Law


Drivers Hardship License Law – General – North Carolina

1. Does the agency (motor vehicle/DOT) law provide for hardship licenses?

Yes. § 20-179.3 allows a limited driving privilege to be 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 related to any of the following:

(1) His employment.
(2) The maintenance of his household.
(3) His education.
(4) His court-ordered treatment or assessment.
(5) Community service ordered as a condition of the person’s probation.
(6) Emergency medical care.

2. Is an agency hearing required before a hardship license is issued?

Yes. The application for a limited driving privilege made at any time after the day of sentencing must be filed with the clerk in duplicate, and no hearing scheduled may be held until a reasonable time after the clerk files a copy of the application with the district attorney’s office. The hearing must be scheduled before:

(1) The presiding judge at the applicant’s trial if that judge is assigned to a court in the district court district as defined in G.S. 7A-133 or superior court district or set of districts as defined in G.S. 7A-41.1, as the case may be, in which the conviction for impaired driving was imposed.
(2) The senior regular resident superior court judge of the superior court district or set of districts as defined in G.S. 7A-41.1 in which the conviction for impaired driving was imposed, if the presiding judge is not available within the district and the conviction was imposed in superior court.
(3) The chief district court judge of the district court district as defined in G.S. 7A-133 in which the conviction for impaired driving was imposed, if the presiding judge is not available within the district and the conviction was imposed in district court.

If the applicant was convicted of an offense in another jurisdiction, the hearing must be scheduled before the chief district court judge of the district court district as defined in G.S. 7A-133 in which he resides. G.S. 20-16.2(e1) governs the judge before whom a hearing is scheduled if the revocation was under G.S. 20-16.2(d). The hearing may be scheduled in any county within the district court district as defined in G.S. 7A-133 or superior court district or set of districts as defined in G.S. 7A-41.1, as the case may be.

3. Do prior offenses prevent me from obtaining a hardship license?

A person is not eligible for limited driving privileges under § 20-179.3 if at the time of the offense he had within the preceding seven years been convicted of an offense involving impaired driving or subsequent to the offense he has been convicted of, or had an unresolved charge lodged against him for, an offense involving impaired driving.

4.  What are the requirements for getting a hardship license?

Eligibility:

(1) A person convicted of the offense of impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.1 is eligible for a limited driving privilege if:

a. At the time of the offense he held either a valid driver’s license or a license that had been expired for less than one year;
b. At the time of the offense he had not within the preceding seven years been convicted of an offense involving impaired driving;
c. Punishment Level Three, Four, or Five was imposed for the offense of impaired driving;
d. Subsequent to the offense he has not been convicted of, or had an unresolved charge lodged against him for, an offense involving impaired driving; and
e. The person has obtained and filed with the court a substance abuse assessment of the type required by G.S. 20-17.6 for the restoration of a drivers license.

A person whose North Carolina driver’s license is revoked because of a conviction in another jurisdiction substantially similar to impaired driving under G.S. 20-138.1 is eligible for a limited driving privilege if he would be eligible for it had the conviction occurred in North Carolina. Eligibility for a limited driving privilege following a revocation under G.S. 20-16.2(d) is governed by G.S. 20-16.2(e1).
(2) Any person whose licensing privileges are forfeited pursuant to G.S. 15A-1331A is eligible for a limited driving privilege if the court finds that at the time of the forfeiture, the person held either a valid drivers license or a drivers license that had been expired for less than one year and

a. The person is supporting existing dependents or must have a drivers license to be gainfully employed; or
b. The person has an existing dependent who requires serious medical treatment and the defendant is the only person able to provide transportation to the dependent to the health care facility where the dependent can receive the needed medical treatment.

The court may also require substance abuse treatment or an ignition interlock device to be installed as a condition of granting limited driving privileges.

5. Does a lifetime or mandatory revocation make you ineligible for restricted driving privileges?

A mandatory revocation under 20-17 (a)(2) for impaired driving is eligible for limited driving privileges under § 20-179.3.

6. Can minors receive limited driving privileges?

Driver license applicants less than 18 years old must have a “driving eligibility certificate”, high school diploma or its equivalent to be eligible for a North Carolina driving permit or license. The driving eligibility certificate must be signed by the applicant’s school administrator who certifies that the applicant is currently enrolled in school or that substantial hardship would be placed on the applicant or the applicant’s family if he or she does not receive a driver license.

DMV must revoke the driver’s license of any person under age 18 when it receives notice from the proper school authority that the person is no longer eligible for a driving eligibility certificate. This revocation remains in effect until the person’s 18th birthday or until the required standards are met and a driving eligibility certificate (DEC) is obtained.