Suspended License in North Carolina
Driver's License Suspension in NC
Your North Carolina driver's license can be suspended or revoked by the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a number of reasons, including:
- Reckless driving.
- DWI, or refusing to take a blood or breath test.
- Accumulating driver's license points.
Read below to learn more about your suspended NC driver's license, license reinstatement, and other related information.
If your North Carolina driver's license is suspended by the NC DMV, you will be notified immediately in writing.
The suspension period varies based on the reason for the suspension.
To reinstate your driver's license once your DMV suspension period has ended, you will have to:
- Pay restoration fees. (See “Fees for Suspended Licenses in NC" below.)
- Apply for a new NC driver’s license.
- This may involve taking a written test and/or driving test again.
In addition to DMV suspensions, your license can be suspended as part of a criminal court sentence or by the request of another agency. For example, failure to pay child support can lead to a suspension of your driver's license.
To reinstate your license after a suspension initiated by the court or another agency, you may have to meet their additional requirements before your driver's license can be reinstated.
NOTE: A driver's license suspension becomes part of your official, permanent North Carolina driving record.
Suspension vs. Revocation
A revoked license is a bit different from a suspended license. A revoked license means your driving privileges are rescinded for longer periods of time; they typically result from more serious violations. Either way, you've lost your driving privileges.
Length of Suspension
The length of a driver's license suspension depends on the reason it was suspended. Common causes for suspension and the length of the first suspension include:
First DWI offense
|Second DWI offense||4 years|
|Third DWI offense||Permanent|
|Refusing to take a breath or blood test||1 year|
|Death by vehicle (misdemeanor)||1 year|
|Death by vehicle (felony)||Permanent|
|Obtaining a driver's license/permit using false information||1 year|
|Speeding and driving recklessly (same incident)||60 days|
|2 charges of driving recklessly in 12 months||1 year|
|Placing bets, watching, or loaning out a car for racing||3 years|
|Intentionally racing another vehicle||3 years|
|Speeding at least 15 MPH over the limit of 55 MPH||30 days|
|Speeding at least 15 MPH over the limit of 55 MPH (second offense)||60 days|
|Speeding at least 15 MPH over the limit of 55 MPH while avoiding arrest||1 year|
Your license can also be suspended for:
- Having 2 convictions of speeding (over 55 mph) in 12 months.
- Having 1 conviction of speeding (over 55 mph) and 1 conviction of reckless driving in 12 months.
- Part of a sentence or suspended court sentence that revokes your driving privileges.
- A conviction for speeding over 75 mph.
NOTE: Some suspensions last until the driver meets certain requirements. For example, if your driver's license is suspended for failing to pay child support, it cannot be reinstated until you have paid the money you owe.
Provisional License Suspensions
If you are younger than 18 years old, you face suspension of up to 6 months, depending on how many violations you've committed.
Driver's License Points Suspension
One of the most common causes for a suspended North Carolina driver's license is the accumulation of driver's license points. Your driving record shows the points currently accumulated against your NC driver's license.
Points are put on your driving record for moving violations and other infractions. The amount of points you get will depend on the violation.
Once you receive 7 points, you may be required to attend a Driver Improvement Clinic. Completing this clinic will remove 3 points from your license. You can only attend a Driver Improvement clinic 1 time in a 5-year period. In order to reduce your points, you will need to qualify and complete a conference with a driver license hearing officer.
Your driver's license will be suspended if you accumulate 12 points or more in 3 years (or 8 points or more in the 3 years following a license suspension). Suspension length is dependent upon the number of suspensions you've had:
- First suspension: 60 days maximum.
- Second suspension: 6 months maximum.
- Any subsequent suspensions: 1 year.
For more information regarding points and NC driver's licenses, please see our NC points page.
A driver improvement clinic can help you reduce points and may even get you lower insurance rates. Learn more about driver training courses here.
Check Your License Status
A driver's license suspension becomes part of your official, permanent North Carolina driving record. Your driving record is a comprehensive view of your driving history and includes any accidents, moving violations, tickets, etc.
Your driving history can affect factors like:
- Car insurance rates.
- Employment opportunities.
- Background checks.
Visit our Driving Records section to learn more about your driving history.
Once you receive notification that your license has been suspended by the DMV, you may be able request an administrative hearing, depending on the reason for the suspension.
If you request a hearing, you will retain your license and driving privileges until the hearing.
To request a hearing or find out if you are eligible for one, contact the central DMV office in Raleigh:
- By phone: (919) 715-7000.
- By mail:
Driver License Hearings
3116 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-3116
You are also able to appeal the decision of the first hearing to the NC Superior Court. Appeals must be made within 30 days.
To reinstate your suspended driver's license once your DMV suspension or revocation period is over, you will need to:
- Go to a North Carolina DMV office.
- Pay the restoration and service fees.
- (See “Fees to Reinstate Your NC License" below).
- Apply for a new NC driver’s license.
- Depending on the reason(s) for your suspension, you may have to take the written test and/or driving test.
Once your license is reinstated, any driver's license points leading to your suspension are canceled.
If your license has been suspended as part of a criminal court sentence or non-driving-related reasons (e.g., failure to pay child support), you may have to take additional steps before you can have your license reinstated.
These extra steps may include paying court fees, paying fines, or acquiring paperwork from a court or agency showing that you are eligible for reinstatement.
For questions, you can call the DMV's customer service at (919) 715-7000.
Fees to reinstate a suspended license include:
- Restoration of driver's license: $50.
- Restoration following a DWI conviction: $100.
- Service fee: $50.
- Does not apply if you surrendered your license to the DMV prior to the effective date of suspension.
Restoration and service fees are payable by any of the following:
- Money order.
- Personal check.
A conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) will result in a mandatory driver's license suspension by the DMV. Once the DMV is notified by the court of your conviction, it will suspend your license immediately. *
In addition to these DMV suspensions, you can also face immediate suspension of your driver's license during a traffic stop or certain violations:
- Refusal to take a blood or breath test: 30 days and 12-month revocation of your license.
- 30 days for a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher (0.04% or higher if you are driving a commercial vehicle).
* Note that you may also be subject to additional criminal penalties and fines imposed by the court.
For more information about the penalties of driving while intoxicated, please see our NC DUI & DWI page.
Are you headed to court for a DWI? Find a local lawyer.
Other Alcohol-Related Violations
Other alcohol-related violations include:
- Lending your driver's license or ID to an underage person using it to buy or try to buy alcohol.
- Giving alcohol to an underage person.
If you are convicted, these violations carry a revocation period of 1 year.
Alcohol Violations and Minor Drivers
North Carolina has stricter DWI regulations for drivers under 21 years old, including suspensions for other alcohol-related violations.
Drivers under 21 years old can be charged with a DWI violation for driving with ANY alcohol in their blood. Conviction results in a 1-year revocation of your driver's license.
Other convictions resulting in 1-year revocations for underage drivers include:
- Buying or trying to by alcohol.
- Using a fake license or ID to buy or try to buy alcohol.
- Helping another underage person buy or try to buy alcohol.
Certain drivers whose licenses have been revoked are eligible to request limited driving privileges. To apply for a hardship license, you must file a petition with the district court in your county of residence.
The following drivers CANNOT apply for limited driving privileges in NC:
- Drivers suspended for DWI convictions.
- Drivers with multiple concurrent suspensions.
- Drivers who have requested a limited license with the last 3 years.
- Drivers facing pending charges in NC or any other state.
If you are eligible for a hardship license, you can request it after you've complied with your revocation for a certain amount of time:
- 1-year revocation period: apply after 90 days.
- 2-year revocation period: apply after 1 year.
- Permanent revocation: 2 years.
Additional requirements for a limited license are:
- A valid and permissible reason to drive, such as:
- To and from work.
- To maintain your household.
- To provide emergency medical care.
- Proof of current NC car insurance.
A limited license is valid for 1 year or for the remainder of your revocation, whichever is shorter. If you violate the terms of the hardship license, your limited privileges will be suspended.
If you have a commercial driver's license (CDL) in North Carolina, you are subject to higher points and stiffer penalties for violations.
CDL licenses can be suspended or revoked for any of the following offenses:
- Hit and run.
- Using a commercial vehicle in a felony.
- Refusing a blood test.
- Vehicular manslaughter or homicide.
- Driving with a suspended CDL.
Several other offenses carry permanent revocations, including using a commercial vehicle to transport illegal substances and repeated offenses.
Your CDL will be suspended if you get 12 points or more in 3 years, following the same suspension periods as regular driver's licenses.
For more information about commercial driver's licenses, please see our section on CDLs in North Carolina.