General Assembly Approves Relief from the Endless Loop of License Revocation

Author’s note: The North Carolina Drivers License Restoration Act was enacted in S.L. 2015-186. The Technical Corrections Act, S.L. 2015-264, rewrote the earlier act’s effective date to render it applicable to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2015. Other clarifications made by the Technical Corrections Act are discussed here.

The General Assembly ratified the North Carolina Drivers License Restoration Act last week and submitted it to the Governor. If the act becomes law, it will relieve defendants convicted of certain types of driving while license revoked of the mandatory additional license revocation that has historically followed such convictions. Proponents for a change in the law argued that people convicted of driving while license revoked under current law drove during the revocation period out of necessity and then became locked in an unending cycle of license revocation.

The cycle developed this way:  A person was convicted of an offense requiring revocation of the person’s license.  You can find a chart of such convictions here. The person drove during the initial revocation period, sometimes because he or she had no other way to travel to and from work. The person was stopped by a law enforcement officer and charged with driving while revoked. Upon conviction, the person’s license was automatically revoked for an additional year. During that additional year, the person again was convicted of driving while license revoked. This time, the additional revocation period was two years.  The person’s third conviction for driving while license revoked led to a permanent license revocation.

H 529 ends that cycle for some defendants, effective for convictions on or after December 1, 2015.

Recodification. The legislation assigns each of the two types of driving while license revoked currently codified in G.S. 20-28(a) to its own subsection.  Driving while license revoked for impaired driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor, is codified in amended G.S. 20-28(a1).  Driving while license revoked generally, a Class 3 misdemeanor, remains in G.S. 20-28(a).

The punishment for driving without reclaiming a license is moved to G.S. 20-28(a2), and the offense of driving after notification or failure to appear is codified in new subsection (a3).

The chart below sets forth the various subsections as recodified by H 529.

G.S. 20-28(a) Driving While License Revoked Class 3 misdemeanor
G.S. 20-28(a1) Driving While License Revoked for Impaired Driving Class 1 misdemeanor
G.S. 20-28(a2) Punishment for Driving Without Reclaiming License Class 3 misdemeanor
G.S. 20-28(a3) Driving After Notification or Failure to Appear Class 1 misdemeanor


If H 529 becomes law, a person convicted of driving while license revoked under G.S. 20-28(a) on or after December 1, 2015 will no longer be subject to a mandatory additional period of license revocation. Persons convicted of violating G.S. 20-28(a1) or (a3) still will be subject to the automatic revocation periods described at the outset of this post.  Persons punished for driving without reclaiming a license are not subject to an automatic additional revocation period under current law or H 529.

A person’s license also is subject to automatic revocation under current G.S. 20-28.1 if the person is convicted of a motor vehicle moving offense that was committed while the person’s license was revoked.  H 529 amends G.S. 20-28.1(a) to provide that a violation of G.S. 20-7(a) (no operator’s license), 20-24.1 (failure to appear or pay for motor vehicle offense), or G.S. 20-28(a) or (a2) shall not be considered a motor vehicle moving offense unless the offense occurred in a commercial motor vehicle or the person held a commercial driver’s license at the time of the offense.

Ignition interlock amendment. Not all of the provisions of H 529 afford relief to defendants, however. The act amends G.S. 20-17.8(f) to specify that a person subject to an ignition interlock restriction who violates the restriction commits the offense of driving while license revoked for impaired driving under G.S. 20-28(a1) and is subject to punishment and license revocation as provided in that section. This is a change from what current law provides.

The act also amends G.S. 20-179.3(j) to provide that the holder of a limited driving privilege who violates any of its restrictions commits the offense of driving while license revoked for impaired driving under G.S. 20-28(a1) and is subject to punishment and license revocation as provided in that section.  This is a technical change that accounts for the recodification but does not change treatment of limited driving privilege violations under current law.

DWI sentencing change. Finally, the act makes a corresponding change to the grossly aggravating factor in G.S. 20-179(c)(2) that elevates the punishment for DWI when a person is driving at the time of the offense with a license that is revoked for impaired driving.  Amended G.S. 20-179(c)(2) lists as a grossly aggravating factor “[d]riving by the defendant at the time of the offense while his driver’s license was revoked under G.S. 20-28(a1), and the revocation was an impaired driving revocation under G.S. 20-28.2(a).” The last clause is confusing. Is it surplusage since G.S. 20-28(a1) only applies to persons whose licenses are revoked for an impaired driving revocation or for an ignition interlock violation?  Or does it operate to exclude ignition interlock violations from the grossly aggravating factor since they are not listed as impaired driving revocation under G.S. 20-28.2(a)? Perhaps a technical corrections bill later in the session will clear this up.

17 thoughts on “General Assembly Approves Relief from the Endless Loop of License Revocation”

  1. Our troopers can falsify their logs, give false testimony in our courts, fabricate lies about potential witnesses, the DMV can stall and delay DMV hearing records for years, and drag innocent victims of their criminal acts through the kangaroo court system for more than 5 years. 5 years and pending all based on lies, fraud, false entries in the court records, false testimony, false logs entries, and the State WILL PROTECT THEM.

    • Jim, lots of pain in what you say, but if I believed what you believe, then there is no justice and we are on our own, so, I don’t believe that. LEOs are human and some are bad and all humans err. If you are being set up, framed, misjudged, then you must prove your case to the honest officers of the court, me and others. I hear you. I’m not ignoring you.

      Still, until you prove your suspicions, your accusations, I suggest you do what you can legally but obey laws as best you can, and if stopped by an LEO, say “Yes No or I don’t know” and take your case before a judge. Wear a body cam, have a dash cam. Don’t show your attitude, never resist. Protect yourself passively, never provoke.

      The media is stirring up negative stereotypes based on way less than 1% of traffic stops for their own purposes. While you, Jim, are feeling an injustice, the rest of us can’t look at the exception and generalize to the majority. Society isn’t perfect, but it can’t survive such thinking and remain civilized.

      • Honest men with integrity (Ha, a rarity all across the board, in both the private and public sectors) don’t rock the boat. Why would they? They are making big money looking the other way. The brother hood watches their own. The State IS aware. Ask a recent resigned Secretary about properly training and supervising his staff. There is another Secretary that need to be investigated as well. Believe what you will about me. I am free to believe what I will about you. I have copies of the duty logs, so do several officials, and they do not match their testimony. You don’t have to break any laws to get stopped charged and railroaded. It happens everyday.

      • @ DJ, a lot of people are like you and suffer of denial of the truth and facts. I would agree that our law enforcement community is comprised of human beings, and like all other human beings are fallible. I would agree that many do have basic fundamental moral and ethical principles and are persons of integrity and honor, but unfortunately within their ranks there are some that are less than honorable or have any measure of integrity.

        One problem that private citizens have is that we are only afforded ‘civil remedies’ to criminal fraud as a general rule which makes it unreasonable or affordable to the majority of people. An attorney for such a ‘civil action’ starts at around $25,000 and goes up from there depending on the complexity of the matter. Especially when you have several colluding and conspiring with each other from within the Dept of Crime Prevention and Public Safety, Department of Transportation, AOC, and Department of Criminal Justice, including elected, hired, and appointed officers.

        In short, the people have no reasonable remedy to criminal acts taken against them by State, County, and City officials, and officers.

  2. Ignoring Jim’s comment, cuz… wow. Lots of personal issues it sounds like…

    This seems like a good thing, and that’s coming from a cop’s perspective. There’s nothing more frustrating than stopping someone for a traffic violation and seeing a huge history dating back years of minor violations (like DWLR), and knowing that if you write them yet another ticket it’s not going to change things, it’s just going to cost them money. But, at the same time, you sometimes HAVE to write them a ticket because your agency is doing a no-tolerance enforcement in the area or something along those lines. I hope this can reduce our “repeat customers” for these petty charges.

    • I think everyone who is familiar with the court system will be glad when/if this bill becomes law. Having people come to court over and over again, and maybe end up in jail, all because they failed to pay a speeding ticket but kept driving to keep food on their family’s table, is a waste of time and money. It’s a good idea to give these folks a chance to remedy their situation.

    • I would agree that this appears to be a good thing. We shall see.

      Yes I take it personal when officers fabricate lies concerning me and my caricature and give sworn false statements in open court (IE perjury). I would think it would concern most others as well ‘unless’ they were a member of the brotherhood that solicits people for money to hire these thugs a private attorney when they do get caught, and terminated. I broke no law, they did that’s the point of this. You say when you do a background check and see an extensive arrest record you take this into consideration. Do you see that the charge was dismissed because of the criminal acts taken by one of your own and consider that too?

  3. I’m all for changes to enable people caught in an endless cycle of increasingly unbearable court fines a chance to dig their way out of revocation, but why make it easier for drunk drivers who ignore their 30 day civil revocations or never show up to court? Under this change, these would no longer be treated as gross aggravators for DWI sentencing purposes. What a horrible idea!

  4. Maybe I missed it in the blog post, but does this mean that convictions for DWLR will now be considered a moving violation during a period of revocation, resulting in a suspension under that prong? I realize that if it’s modified from DWLR to NOL, there is no longer a need for a PJC under the new law.

  5. I would have to agree with Jim’s above rant. Although I don’t come under the category of repeat or even first offender, I’ve lost all respect for most law enforcement because I think they’re just financing the court system. And as the above link on Ray Tensing’s police report in the latest of many cop related murders shows, they and their colleagues will tell any lie on a police report to support their assertions. What say you Christopher, got a body cam on?

    • I sense impending jury nullification by Jim & Richard’s ‘losing all respect for” LEOs, if they represent a sizeable number of people. Richard has a good point to be proven which could make for a good article here on NC Criminal Law, that is, where does the money go after you pay the clerk at the courthouse?

      How much of “court costs” actually goes to the court? I thought fines went to the schools. Is that not true? Here’s an old news piece from Wilmington.

    • My guess is that they are opposed to dash cams, body cams, cams in booking, and especially TESTING AREAS. Sure wish they would had had a cam in the TESTING AREA 5 plus years ago. Of course you would have to hire an attorney and sue to get copies of the ‘public records’ (Video proving their crime).

      • Testing areas as in the room where you are observed prior to your breath test? Those are on video, and you wouldn’t have to hire an attorney to get a chance to view them. File a FOIA request. Also most departments use dash cams, as well as cameras pointed inside the vehicle to capture your interaction with the officer. It frankly sounds like you were arrested for DWI and refuse to take responsibility.

  6. Is there an enhanced punishment for a person charged with the class 3 DWLR not an impaired revocation that will take the charge to a Class 1 misdemeanor based on prior convictions?

  7. how does this help? if the dwlr is reduced to a nol, then the nol is a 1 yr revocation…ie, a moving viol in a per of revocation… and so on till your 3rd, and now you are at perm revocation… if in fact a PJC is not given… The average person out there is not going to know which DWLRs are revocable and which are not. The DAs do not understand the diff in the dwlr’s status. Ask anyone of them. They do not give advice of legal nature and they don’t understand this info anyway. They just ask defs what they want to do. The judges don’t have to understand it-they just take the plea. The poor defs are in a more difficult situation. And now the State creates these status issues, and the Insur Companies see a DWLR conviction and there goes the insur rates. The defs who can’t afford insurance drive uninsured. The defs who cannot afford a Def Lawyer may experience revocation as before , just in a diff way.The circle of rev is still here in a different way.

  8. how does this help? additionally,, we have not talked about how these diff dwlr status areas affect dmv hearings… What if we are petitioning for a perm rev hearing or better yet, a perm DWI rev hearing… how do the diff dwlrs areas affect a DMV hearing? Mov Viol or not, and does any or all negate the hearing? Wait another 3 yrs??? Also, think about it, I’ve haven’t seen discussion of Impr Equips in DMV hearings and how they are evaluated. Again, here is another area defs get hit hard.


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