License Violations - DWLR & NOL
Information from Hensley Law Firm about license violations such as Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) and No Operator License (NOL) in North Carolina, including the law, potential consequences, and legal issues.
North Carolina considers driver's licenses to be a privilege, not a right. You must have a valid driver's license to operate a motor vehicle in North Carolina, and the license must be the proper class and endorsement for the vehicle you are operating. Driving while license revoked (DWLR) is a very serious offense and these charges are prosecuted harshly in NC and particularly in Western NC. No Operator License (NOL) is typically a one-time charge for someone who has never held a driver's license before; once a person has been "warned" that it's not okay to drive without first obtaining a license, any following instances of driving without a license are typically charged as a DWLR.
Before December of 2013, DWLR was classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, conviction of which carried heavy fines and possibly up to 120 days in prison. As of December 1, 2013, a DWLR is charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor unless the defendant's license was revoked in connection with an implied-consent offense, in which case the charge is still a Class 1 misdemeanor. If charged as a Class 3, a DWLR now only typically carries a consequence of court-imposed fines. Regardless of how it is charged, the DMV will also impose an additional license revocation for one year for the first DWLR offense, two years for a second DWLR offense, and permanently for a third or subsequent DWLR offense. The driver will also incur 8 NC Safe Driver Incentive Program (NCSDIP) points which will cause a 220% increase in insurance rates.
NOL is a Class 2 misdemeanor, conviction of which also carries fines and possible imprisonment. Conviction of NOL will cause the DMV to impose 3 license points. An accumulation of 12 points will cause license revocation. Conviction of NOL will also incur 1 NCSDIP point which will cause an insurance rate increase of 25%.
DWLR and NOL charges are typically very straightforward - either you were licensed/privileged to drive, or you weren't. There are a few instances in which issues of knowledge may arise, for example if a defendant's license was suspended or revoked and the driver was never made aware of the revocation or suspension. Additionally, how the charging police discovered the revocation or suspension should be closely analyzed as the officer needed to have a good reason to stop the vehicle that was being driven.
Why Hire an Attorney?
Most prosecutors in Western North Carolina are willing to work with attorneys if they can show the driver is eligible to obtain their license and in these situations the DWLR charge can often be dismissed. A trained and experienced attorney will also know when foreign licenses are valid in North Carolina, a fact that the charging officer often overlooks. It is also important to have a trained, experienced attorney analyze your case to determine if there are any defenses on constitutional grounds. Although rare, there are cases where the charges against a defendant are dismissed because his constitutional rights were not protected. In the majority of cases, you will need an attorney to prepare you for your court date, including preparing all paperwork and certifications, and to present all the pertinent information to the judge to minimize the consequences of driving without a valid license.
Have questions about NC driver's licenses, or a DWLR or NOL charge? I am always happy to give free consultations and speak with you about your situation to assess your options.
Hensley Law Firm provides criminal defense representation in:
Mars Hill, Marshall, Hot Springs, and surrounding areas (Madison County)
Asheville, Weaverville, Leicester, Black Mountain, Swannanoa, and surrounding areas (Buncombe County)
Burnsville and surrounding areas (Yancey County)