Here at Dysart Law, we handle all types of criminal defense cases from complex federal matters to traffic citations. While I hesitate to label any case as routine, speeding and other everyday traffic infractions are often seen as run-of-mill situations that affect individuals who otherwise would not typically find themselves as a defendant in the criminal justice system.
Many of my clients then are surprised then at the complexity involved in cases where they have been charged with driving while license revoked. In situations where a defendant’s license has been suspended for an impaired driving offense, a class one misdemeanor, the consequences can be serious for obvious reasons; judges typically take a dim view of individuals who continue to drive after losing their license for alcohol-related offenses. However, even with a class three misdemeanor DWLR (non-impaired revocation), it is often difficult to resolve the charge without further consequences to the defendant’s driver’s license.
DWLRs can be some of the most difficult cases to reach a favorable resolution, especially if the driver has not yet gotten their license reinstated or if they have multiple charges. Consideration has to be paid not just to the possible sentence from the judge, but also to the potential penalties imposed by the DMV. The dual threats represented by the court system and the DMV have to be handled carefully to ensure that untended consequences do not occur.
Driving privileges can be suspended in North Carolina for a variety of reasons including accumulation of license points, reckless or aggressive driving, failure to appear in court, failure to pay old court costs or unresolved traffic issues in other states. While written notice is provided by the State in accordance with the statute, I find that individuals often do not know their license is in a state of suspension. For often justifiable reasons like driving to work or picking up kids, my clients sometimes compound these mistakes by continuing to drive on a suspended license which then results in additional charges. It is not unusual that by the time a defendant hires an attorney they are facing several counts of driving on a revoked license.
The biggest issue is that a moving violation while a license is suspended results in further suspension: twelve months for the first offense, a twenty-four-month suspension for the second, and permanent suspension for the third violation. Thus, after receiving a DWLR charge, the defendant or their attorney needs to resolve not just the pending DWLR but also the prior matter that gave rise to the suspension, if possible. The difficulty involved varies wildly from case to case. The goal is to get the defendant’s license back before having to plead to either the DWLR or a reduced charge. The willingness of the state to reduce a DWLR charge seems to depend on the county, but the client is always in a better position if he or she is able to get their license back to the active status before resolving the DWLR. The availability of a prayer for judgment continued (PJC), granted at the discretion of the court, is another tool often used to avoid license points and DMV consequences associated with a DLWR conviction.
I often tell clients that defending multiple DWLRs involves a coordinated strategy between attorney and client that may require several court appearances. If you are facing a DWLR or other traffic matter if is advisable to speak to an attorney with experience in traffic matters. Dysart Law welcomes the chance to help you with this, or any other charges you may be facing. Give us a call to discuss your case.