If you have a suspended drivers license in North Carolina, you will not be able to drive legally until you reinstate it with the NC Department of Transportation (DOT). Certain factors that may lead to a drivers license suspension are traffic violations, accumulated penalty points on your license or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Note that your license can be suspended for non-driving related violations as well. In order to reinstate drivers licenses in North Carolina, motorists are required to follow a drivers license restoration procedure, which includes payment of reinstatement fees and possible attendance of traffic school.

Reinstating A North Carolina Suspended License

The process of reinstating suspended drivers licenses in North Carolina can only be completed if you meet specific requirements set by the NC DMV. In cases of suspended drivers licenses, though you will not need to apply for a new drivers license, you will be required to comply with the terms and conditions related to the suspension before re-issuance of your credential.

On the other hand, if you have a revoked drivers license in North Carolina, you will not be able to drive until you have met all reinstatement requirements, as well as attended any necessary administrative hearings in court. Depending on the nature of your violation, drivers must be prepared to pay the appropriate drivers license reinstatement fees and submit proper documents to the DMV.

How To Reinstate A North Carolina Suspended Drivers License

In order to reinstate suspended drivers licenses in NC, drivers must meet select requirements related to their specific case. Details related to your North Carolina drivers license suspension – such as the suspension period, the specific reinstatement steps and any related fees – will be stated on your DMV notice.

In general, to reinstate revoked drivers licenses, you may need to apply for a new drivers license and attend a court hearing about your case. Depending on your hearing verdict, you may be able to restore your driving privileges, as long as you comply with specific terms and conditions. To finalize the process, you will be required to visit an NC DOT office and submit documentation for a new driving credential.

Note that in certain revocation cases, you may be asked for proof of vehicle insurance. Typically, to complete the North Carolina drivers license restoration process for both suspended and revoked credentials, drivers must adhere to the following steps:

  • Visit an NC DMV office.
  • Submit proof of identity such as your drivers license (if you have it) or two other documents of identification (birth certificate, Social Security card, passport, court papers).
  • Complete any required drivers tests or traffic school courses.
  • Submit proof of liability insurance (if required).
  • Complete an application for a new license.
  • Pay the restoration fees.

Suspension Periods in North Carolina

The time period of a drivers license suspension in North Carolina depends on the type of violation, the number of total suspensions (if applicable) and if there have been any hearings related to your case. Suspension periods can range from 30 days to an indefinite period of time, based on the violation. Currently, driving license suspension periods in North Carolina are determined as follows:

  • If you refuse to undergo a chemical analysis: one year of suspension.
  • If you were caught speeding over 55 mph: 30 days of suspension for the first offense and 60 days for the second offense within 12 months.
  • If you accumulate 12 points in three years (or eight points in three years after a revocation): 60 days of suspension.
  • If you violate the ignition interlock restriction: one year of suspension.
  • If you drive while impaired: one year for the first offense, four years for the second offense and permanent suspension for any subsequent offense.

North Carolina Point System

Suspended drivers licenses in NC are often the result of accumulated points on a driving record. Driver license points are added against your driving record when you commit a motor vehicle violation. For example, if you accumulate 7 points on your record, you will be required to complete a driver improvement clinic program, upon which 3 points will be deducted from your record by the NC DMV.

Drivers license suspensions in North Carolina usually occur when the driver has accumulated 12 points in a three-year period. Certain situations resulting in points accumulation on your driving record can include:

  • Reckless driving – 4 points.
  • Hit and run with property damage – 4 points.
  • Running through a red light or stop sign – 3 points.
  • Illegal passing – 4 points.
  • Passing a stopped school bus – 5 points.
  • Speeding in excess of 55 mph – 3 points.
  • Driving without a drivers license (or with an expired credential) – 3 points.
  • Driving through a safety zone – 3 points.
  • Not having liability insurance – 3 points.

Traffic School in North Carolina

Drivers with a suspended drivers license in North Carolina may be able to reduce the penalty points against their driving record by enrolling in a state-approved traffic school. North Carolina requires drivers to complete a Driver Improvement Clinic course in the event of accumulated points on their records.

Drivers with 7 or more points will be assigned to take the course by the court. Upon completion, they will have three points deducted from their driving record. If you would like to receive point credit, you must first meet eligibility requirements and then attend a conference with an authorized hearing officer.

Types of North Carolina Drivers License Suspensions

Suspended drivers licenses in North Carolina can be the result of a variety of driving and non-driving related reasons. For instance, drivers license suspensions can occur due to an individual’s failure to take a drug or alcohol test or lack of child support payments. Other serious violations that can lead to suspended driving licenses in NC are:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Accumulation of penalty points against your driving record.
  • Failure to pay traffic fines or appear to court for a hearing.
  • Violation of ignition interlock restriction.
  • Exceeding the speed limit on the road or driving faster than 55 mph.
  • Death by vehicle, manslaughter or assault.
  • Failure to provide aid if involved in an accident.

North Carolina DUI Suspensions

One of the most common types of drivers license suspensions in North Carolina is due to a DUI-related suspension. The suspension period, as well as the requirements you will need to meet in order to complete the NC drivers license reinstatement process, will be based on your age and the type of violation you committed.

Older Than 21

The North Carolina drivers license suspension period for driving while impaired is often based on an individual’s blood alcohol concentration when pulled over by an officer, as well as if any previous violations have been committed. Drivers older than 21 who refuse to take a breathalyzer test as requested by a law enforcement officer will face immediate drivers license revocation for 30 days, in addition to a 12-month revocation ordered by the NC DMV.

If the driver’s alcohol levels are 0.08 percent or higher, his or her drivers license will be revoked for 30 days. Certain DUI-related suspension periods in NC are as follows:

  • First offense – one-year revocation.
  • Second offense – four-year revocation.
  • Third offense – permanent revocation if one prior conviction occurred within the past five years.
  • Fourth offense – permanent revocation (the fourth offense is officially considered a felony).

Younger Than 21

Drivers license revocations in NC for drivers younger than 21 years of age are based on a number of driving and non-driving offenses. A DUI suspension for an underage driver is usually the result of one of the following:

  • Attempting to purchase alcohol or aiding another underage individual to do so.
  • Using a fraudulent form of identification to purchase alcohol.
  • Giving alcohol to any underage individual.
  • Driving with any amount of alcohol or drugs in their systems.

The time period for suspended drivers licenses in North Carolina in such cases is set at one year, upon which the driver must meet the requirements for drivers license restoration.

Car Insurance Suspensions

Drivers license suspensions in North Carolina can be also based on failure to maintain state-required car insurance. In NC, the minimum amount of liability insurance is set as follows:

  • $30,000 for injuries to a single individual in a crash.
  • $60,000 for all personal injuries in a crash.
  • $25,000 for property damage in a crash.
  • $750,000 for commercial vehicles.

Driving with expired vehicle insurance or without any coverage is against the law and may lead to additional fines and penalties.

Traffic Summons or Failure To Pay

A driver with a suspended driving license in North Carolina due to unpaid traffic tickets may have the option to waive their ticket. Waivable tickets (when the driver pleads guilty and thus waives his or her right to a hearing) can be paid online, in person or by mail to the county clerk’s office.

On the other hand, non-waivable tickets require the driver to appear at a court hearing for payment purposes. The fees owed must be paid until the deadline stated on the ticket.

North Carolina Hardship Drivers License

For drivers license suspensions in North Carolina resulting from DUI-related violations, drivers may have the option to apply for a hardship license. Known as a Limited Driving Privileges license, this credential allows drivers to operate a motor vehicle exclusively to and from work/school, substance abuse education classes, court-ordered treatment facilities or an ignition interlock service institution.

Drivers younger than 21 years of age can be issued a restricted license only if they do not have any previous DUI convictions related to a suspended driving license.

Applying For A North Carolina Hardship License

Depending on your drivers license revocation or suspension, the process to apply for a North Carolina hardship license or a limited driving privileges credential will require you to meet certain requirements set by the NC DMV. To begin the required steps, contact a DOT office directly to inquire about the special terms and conditions under which you can apply for a restricted license.

If you have an NC suspended drivers license due to DUI with a BAC of 0.15 or higher and wish to apply for a Limited Driving Privileges license, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. This device is used similarly to a breathalyzer and prevents the individual from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Any time the vehicle starts, as well as randomly during driving, the driver will be required to breathe into the device.

Fees to Reinstate A North Carolina Drivers License

NC drivers license reinstatement fees are based on a variety of factors such as violations on a driver’s DMV record, the number of previous suspensions (if applicable) and more. The general drivers license restoration fee is $65, charged upon expiration of the suspension period. If your drivers license is not returned to the DOT prior to the commencement of your revocation or suspension period, you will be required to pay $50.

If a drivers license suspension in North Carolina is a result of a DWI violation, you will be charged $130 when the suspension term ends. Note that you may be subject to additional fees if you need to reapply for a new or a duplicate credential, or if you need to pay select court fines for your suspension.

Fees can be paid either in person, at any NC DOT office, or by mail, via money order. It must be made payable to the NCDMV. If paying by mail, drivers must include their drivers license number, date of birth and their full name on the money order.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 3 2020.