Hardship License Rules in North Carolina

by Mary Jane Freeman

If you have a suspended or revoked North Carolina driver's license, you may qualify for a hardship license. You can legally drive with this permit, but are limited in when and where you can. North Carolina courts approve limited driving permits, so you must petition the court in your county to be considered for one.

Losing Your License

Your license can be taken away in North Carolina for several reasons, including driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, causing another person's death with your vehicle and excessive speeding. If your license is suspended, your driving privileges are lost temporarily. If your license is revoked, your privileges are canceled altogether. To get them back, you must reapply for a license and meet all the requirements, which may include participating in a hearing.

Limited Driving Privileges

Limited driving permits are available to some North Carolina drivers with suspended or revoked licenses. If eligible, you will be allowed to drive for essential tasks, such as going to work, school or a doctor's office. Contact the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles at (919) 715-7000 to determine your eligibility for a limited permit.


You will need to submit a petition to your county for a limited driving permit. Contact the county courthouse to determine the proper form to use since this is determined by the reason you lost your driving privileges in the first place. The forms are available on the "Forms" page of the North Carolina Court System website. Personal information, such as your name and driver's license number is required, as is the date the license was suspended or revoked. The court may hold a hearing before making a decision.

Reinstating Full Driving Privileges

If you get the hardship license approved, it's still not official until you visit the local DMV office. You'll need to show them your personal identification, proof of insurance and pay a restoration fee. The fee is normally $50 as of 2015, but can double if your license was revoked because of a DWI. An additional $50 service fee is required if you didn't previously return your license to the DMV or court. Fees can also be paid by mail to NCDMV, DL Audit Unit, 3111 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-3111. Some states do require some drivers apply for a new license and take some state-required tests.

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