Pretrial Limited Driving photo

The Thirty-Day Civil Revocation and the Pretrial Limited Driving

Privilege Date: March 26, 2020 – Updated October 27, 2021 

Questions Answered:

  • What does Revocation Mean?
  • What is a thirty-day civil revocation? 
  • What is a Pretrial Limited Driving Privilege? 
  • How do I obtain a Pretrial Limited Driving Privilege in NC? 

Relevant Statute: North Carolina General Statute § 20-16.5 

What Does "Revocation" Mean?

North Carolina's G.S. 20-16.5 statute specifically addresses the immediate civil revocation of a driver's license in cases related to driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Essentially, revocation means the temporary withdrawal of driving privileges. Under this statute, if a law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe an individual has been driving under the influence, and if certain conditions are met—such as refusing a chemical analysis or having an alcohol concentration above the legal limit—the person's driver's license can be revoked. This revocation is immediate and remains in effect for a standard period of 30 days, although it may extend longer if there are other pending offenses.

Importantly, individuals facing revocation have the right to a hearing to contest the validity of the revocation. If successful at the hearing, they may have their driving privileges reinstated sooner. This aspect of the law underscores the balance between public safety and individual rights, ensuring that those accused have an opportunity to present their case.

When the Civil Revocation Applies 

In North Carolina, thirty-day civil revocation occurs most frequently when a law enforcement officer charges a person with the offense of Driving While Impaired (DWI), and when the person has a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) automatically revokes a driver’s license for thirty days as a result of the civil revocation. Civil revocations also can occur when the person is charged with an offense similar to DWI, such as driving after consuming alcohol while under twenty-one years of age. These offenses are called implied consent offenses.

Civil revocation also can apply in cases when the officer alleges that the person charged with an implied consent offense refused to submit to a breath or a blood test. In other words, a civil revocation occurs when a person is charged with an implied consent offense, like DWI, and when the person either refuses to take a breath or blood test or the person has a BAC of 0.08 or greater. 

The Scope of the Privilege  

During the first ten days of the thirty-day civil revocation, the defendant cannot drive at all. From the tenth day of the revocation to the thirtieth day, the Defendant is eligible for a Pretrial Limited Driving Privilege. This privilege allows the Defendant to drive whenever needed for work and school purposes. It also allows the defendant to drive for household purposes Monday through Friday during the hours of 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM. We call these hours standard working hours. Household purposes cover transportation that is necessary to maintain one’s home and life. I most commonly give my clients examples of going to the bank, the doctor, the grocery store, and childcare.  

The Requirement and the Process for Obtaining a Privilege 

To obtain the Pretrial Limited Driving Privilege in NC, most defendants will find it necessary to seek the advice of an experienced DWI defense attorney. The Defendant must complete a substance abuse assessment prior to applying for the pretrial privilege. The Defendant also must obtain a copy of his or her driving record, produce proof of insurance, and provide documentation relating to hours of employment if the defendant works outside of the standard working hours described above. The next steps require filing a petition requesting the privilege, preparing the details of the privilege, and having a judge sign the privilege. Preparing the petition and the privilege and obtaining the judge’s signature are tasks that generally are reserved for attorneys to complete. Finally, prior to obtaining the official signed and sealed privilege, the Defendant must pay a $100 fee to the court. 

How to Get Your License Back 

After thirty days of the civil revocation, the defendant can pay $100 to the Clerk of Court to lift the civil revocation and obtain his or her full license again. The Clerk will return the physical license upon payment, and the DMV will officially lift the suspension shortly thereafter. The defendant would only lose his or her license again as a result of the DWI case if he or she were convicted.  


In summary, a civil revocation results when a person is charged with a DWI-related offense and when that person has a BAC of 0.08 or higher or refuses to take a breath or blood test. The defendant cannot drive during the first ten days of the revocation but then can obtain a limited driving privilege in NC for the next twenty days. On the thirtieth day, the Defendant can reinstate and retrieve his or her full license. Please contact my office if you are dealing with a civil revocation and you either need advice or assistance obtaining a Pretrial Limited Driving Privilege in NC. 

Facing a 30-Day License Revocation? Contact the Law Offices of Christopher R. Detwiler for Expert DWI Representation

If you're dealing with the stress and uncertainty of a 30-day civil license revocation, it's crucial to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney by your side. At the Law Offices of Christopher R. Detwiler, we specialize in navigating the complexities of DWI cases in Raleigh.

Our dedicated team understands the intricacies of the law and is committed to fighting for your rights. Don't let a revocation disrupt your life more than it has to. Contact us today for a consultation, and let us help you explore your options for a pretrial-limited driving privilege. With our expertise, we'll work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. Remember, the right legal support can make all the difference. Call us now at  (919) 526-7545 or fill out our form below and take the first step towards regaining control of your driving future.

Detwilerlaw bg

Contact Us

Don't Delay! Contact our Law Office Today

We are available 24/7.
Call us at  (919) 526-7545 or fill out the form to request a free consultation.

We look forward to assisting you with your legal needs.

"*" indicates required fields

Your Name*
By submitting this form, you are consenting to our privacy policy.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.