The Effect of Drug Crime Charges on Your North Carolina Driver’s License

Have you been charged with a drug crime in North Carolina? 

Whether you have been charged with possession, driving while intoxicated (DWI), or any number of drug-related crimes, it is important to hire an experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney to advocate on your behalf. Even a misdemeanor drug offense charge can carry penalties that extend well beyond any time you might serve behind bars. 

Here, we discuss the potential consequences a drug crime conviction can have on your driver’s license.

Will My License Be Suspended for a Drug Offense (Other Than a DWI)?

The short answer is no. Your license will not be suspended or revoked in North Carolina for a

drug offense that is not a DWI (more on the consequences of a DWI below).

However, this was not always the case in North Carolina. There is a federal law that encourages

states to pass laws that add at least six months of license suspension to any conviction for a drug offense. In the past, if states did not do this, the federal government would withhold certain

federal funding.

Luckily, some states, including North Carolina, have found a way to maintain this funding

without having to keep this license suspension law on the books. There remain states that do

suspend driver’s licenses for drug offenses, so it is important to understand a little bit of the

history surrounding this law and be aware that not all states are as lenient as North Carolina

when it comes to license suspension and drug offenses.

When Will My License Be Suspended or Revoked for a Drug Crime?

The short answer is: if you are convicted of a DWI. While most people associate a DWI with

drunk driving, in North Carolina it also includes:

  • Driving while under the influence of an “impairing substance,” which is defined very

broadly and can include many prescription drugs and illegal substances, depending on

how they affect a person’s body; and

  • Driving with any amount of a “Schedule I controlled substance” in your blood or urine.

Schedule I controlled substances include highly addictive opiates such as heroin.

If you are found to have consumed a Schedule I controlled substance or were driving under the

influence of an impairing substance, you may be convicted of a drug DWI.

What Are the Consequences of a DWI on My Driver’s License?

If convicted of a DWI in North Carolina, your driver’s license will be revoked for at least one


It is important to note that if you refuse a blood test, that will also result in the immediate revocation of your driver’s license for one year. The suspension and potential revocation

penalties increase based on past offenses:

  • DWI First Offense: one year suspension
  • DWI Second Offense: four years suspension
  • DWI Third Offense: permanent revocation

Being charged with a drug-related DWI or other drug offense in North Carolina is very serious

and can carry with it penalties beyond fines and jail time. 

If you’ve been charged with a drug crime in North Carolina give Cotten Law a call to discuss your options.

We are an aggressive and AFFORDABLE defense firm that will provide you with high-quality representation. Jeremyhas represented tens of thousands of clients charged with offenses such as yours and has hundreds of stellar reviews. Give our office a call or click over to our main page to chat live with an assistant 24 hours a day. Our offices serve clients in central North Carolina including Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham Counties.