How to Get Your North Carolina Driver’s License Reinstated


John WaitAttorney at Martin & Gifford, PLLC

A driver license may be the most important privilege afforded by the State. Over the years I have been in practice, I have helped many people get their North Carolina driver license reinstated. Below is a checklist of things you should do, along with some suggestions on how an attorney can help you.

  1. Find out why your driver license was suspended or revoked. This can most easily be accomplished by calling the North Carolina DMV at (919) 715-7000. You may have to wait on hold, but the DMV will be able to tell you what traffic tickets in which counties caused your license to be revoked. Be sure to write down the case numbers and the county when the DMV gives you the information over the phone. Driver licenses are most often suspended because of:
    • Unresolved speeding or other traffic citations; and
    • Failure to comply with DWI suspension conditions, such as the alcohol or drug class requirement and the DWI reinstatement fee.
  2. Resolve all of your outstanding traffic tickets, including your tickets in North Carolina and any out-of-state tickets. You will likely need an attorney for this step. A good attorney will:
    • Double check to make sure you have found all of your outstanding tickets.
    • Re-calendar your traffic tickets in court, and get any failure to appear fines waived, if possible.
    • Get some of your outstanding traffic tickets dismissed, if allowed, and get any remaining traffic charges reduced. The reductions you get are very important. Depending on what kind of charges you need to address, a reduction might be essential to making sure that your license is not suspended for a year or more even after your outstanding tickets are resolved and paid.
  3. Go to your local driver license office to get reinstated or request a DMV hearing. By the time your attorney has finished resolving your outstanding tickets, you should be able to walk into a DMV driver license branch and pay to have your license reinstated. If you are not eligible to be reinstated by paying the reinstatement fee, then you should be eligible to request a hearing before a DMV hearing officer.


This means that at least one of your resolved cases needs to be changed to another kind of conviction. In these situations, an attorney can help you by approaching the district attorney and asking the court to change one of your convictions to something else. This procedure is commonly called a motion for appropriate relief, and it is not something you want to attempt on your own without help from a lawyer.

If the district attorney and the judge agree to allow your motion, your conviction will be changed to another kind of traffic conviction. Once this happens, you should be able to either get your driver license reinstated at your local DMV office, or you should be able to request a hearing to see if a DMV hearing officer will allow your license to be reinstated. Note that DMV hearing officers do not have to reinstate your license. They can issue a limited privilege or deny your request altogether. To put your best case before the North Carolina DMV Hearing Officer, you should strongly consider hiring an attorney to present your case.


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