What can happen if I get caught driving on a suspended license?

Suspended Licenses in North CarolinaBecause most people rely on driving a vehicle to get to work and take care of family and personal affairs, it can be devastating to have a suspended driver’s license. Public transportation may be readily accessible in some cities in North Carolina, but it may be unavailable, time-consuming, and expensive where you live. As a result, you may find it almost impossible not to drive—even if you have a suspended license. However, if you are caught, you could face even more serious penalties.

Why Are Driver’s Licenses Revoked in North Carolina?

Your North Carolina driver’s license can be suspended for many reasons. Some of the reasons are for fairly minor offenses while others are for committing serious offenses or unsafe driving practices. Here are some of the reasons that your driver’s license could be suspended:

  • Failing to pay court costs and fees
  • Failing to attend a required court hearing
  • Failing to pay child support
  • Failing to complete required community service
  • Accumulating 12 Department of Motor Vehicle points on your driver’s license in a three-year period or accumulating three points in a three year period when you have a driver’s license suspension on your record
  • Speeding over a certain speed or receiving a certain number of speeding tickets
  • Refusing to submit to a chemical test to determine if you are intoxicated
  • Being convicted of impaired driving
  • Failing to stop after an accident

What Are the Penalties for Driving While Your Driver’s License Is Suspended?

Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) is a serious misdemeanor offense in North Carolina—even if your original suspension is for failing to pay fines or another more minor cause. However, the law was changed on December 1, 2015, to reduce the harsh consequences for some offenses. There are now four offenses:

  • DWLR. You could be convicted of this offense if you drive a motor vehicle on a highway—which is broadly defined to include most roads—while knowing that your driver’s license has been revoked. This is a Class 3 misdemeanor, but under the new law, a violation may not result in an additional driver’s license suspension.
  • Impaired driving suspension. It is a violation of the law to drive when your license has been suspended for impaired driving, and you have received a required notice under North Carolina law of the suspension. This is also a Class 1 Misdemeanor, and a violation could result in an additional driver’s license suspension.
  • Driving without reclaiming license. If you are charged with DWI, your driver’s license will be immediately revoked. If the time period for the revocation has expired and you have not reclaimed your license, but are caught driving, this is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Under the new law, this violation may not result in an additional revocation of your license.
  • Driving after notification. If you drive after failing to appear for a DWI (Driving While Impaired) court date or after receiving a notice from the DMV that your license has been suspended, this remains a Class 1 misdemeanor. You may face an additional driver’s license suspension.

The consequences of driving when your drivers’ license is suspended are serious and include a permanent criminal record if you are convicted of a misdemeanor offense. You could face these punishments:

  • Up to 120 days in jail
  • Fines to be set by the judge
  • Driver’s license suspension of an additional one year for the first offense, two years for a second offense, and lifetime revocation for a third offense
  • Eight points on your vehicle insurance policy, which can result in your premiums increasing up to 220 percent for the next three years under North Carolina’s Safe Driver Incentive Plan

Let Us Help If Your Driver’s License Has Been Suspended

Rather than try to handle your case on your own, we recommend speaking with a traffic ticket lawyer to understand how the legal process works. If you have been charged with driving while your driver’s license was suspended, our experienced traffic law attorneys are here to help you fight the charges you face. Depending on your situation, we may be able to help you get your driving privileges restored. Call our office today to schedule your free case evaluation to learn more about your legal options.