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We’ve talked previously about the Interlock Ignition System (IIS) that North Carolina law requires certain individuals to install in order to drive, following a DWI conviction.  But what if you fall into a category in which you are only permitted to get your standard license back after having driven with an IIS installed in your vehicle for a year?

This is an area that is not adequately addressed by the NC DWI laws, but clearly affects a percentage of people with drunk driving charges in Raleigh and surrounding areas in Wake County and other parts of North Carolina.  Certain people convicted of driving while impaired are prohibited by law from getting their license back until they’ve had an IIS installed for one year, during a probationary period.  And according to the letter of the law, if you don’t have a car, your only option is to find a car to have the device installed into.  You’d think that simply not driving for a year would satisfy the lawmakers, but even agreeing to refrain from driving altogether doesn’t necessarily meet the legal requirement.  NC General Statute 20‑17.8 requires that the DMV shall require individuals subject to the interlock requirement to agree to the installation of the device at the time of restoration of the license, which means that it may not be possible to get your license restored even after the revocation period has expired.

So what if you don’t own your own car?  What if you borrow a car from a family member when you need to drive?  Or drive a Zipcar when you need to drive?  Or, what if you ride a motorcycle (the interlock device cannot be installed in motorcycles)?

In one of these situations, there is no easy answer.  One practice that has been used, which seems (and is) ridiculous to have to do, is to buy the cheapest car you can find just to have the system installed, in order to get your license back in order.  Without finding a car in which to install the system, it appears that the only legal option remaining is to attempt to persuade the DMV to restore your license after the IIS restriction period has run, which may prove more difficult than just finding a way to comply with the requirement.


Raleigh DWI defense attorney Ben Hiltzheimer is a criminal lawyer in Raleigh, North Carolina, who represents individuals charged with DWIs and the full spectrum of misdemeanors and felonies. Contact us for a free, confidential consultation and case evaluation at (919) 727-9227.

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Ben is an experienced trial lawyer who earned his law degree from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He was trained in trial practice at the nation’s preeminent Public Defender agency, the federally funded Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, described by United States Attorney General Eric Holder as “the best public defender office in the country.”

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