NC driver's licenses are considered a privilege, and not a right. NC DMV has powerful discretion to regulate that privilege, and knowing what you can and can't do after DWI conviction can be confusing.
There are a number of different scenarios that can affect how, and when you get your license back after a DWI conviction. Typically, most convictions will end in a 1 year suspension of your driver's license. This generally can be remedied during the year of suspension with a limited driving privilege. Certain facts such as finding of a high blood alcohol content can require an interlock system on the car, but the privilege is still possible. If, based on aggravating factors found at sentencing, you are a level A1, 1, or 2, no driving privilege will be available through the courts. DMV offers no petition in these cases either.
If you have refused the breathalyzer, you'll be suspended under NC implied consent laws for 1 full year with no driving privilege. This suspension runs separate, and sometimes overlaps, the court imposed license suspension from the DWI conviction. However, if you would qualify for a privilege otherwise, a refusal specific limited privilege exists, and can be had after 6 full months of suspension served without driving.
Some more extreme situations, such as multiple DWI convictions within a certain period, can cause lengthy DMV suspensions. For example, if you've been convicted of DWI twice within three years, your license will be suspended for 4 years. You'll also have no driving privilege available during this period. You can however petition for a hearing on getting a privilege after 2 years, and you'll need to show that those 2 years suspended were served without driving, among other things.
A third DWI conviction will lead to a permanent revocation, however you can be hearing eligible after 3 years of abiding by the suspension. In the case of Habitual DWI, 4 convictions within 10 years, you'll be permanently revoked and eligible for hearing 10 years after the most recent conviction. Again, these hearings are DMV discretionary hearings, so you don't have a right to be restored in any way. You only have a chance to get privileges at these hearings after showing that you may deserve the chance.
If you are in need of a limited privilege, or a DMV hearing for restoration, hiring a knowledgeable DWI Lawyer to represent you is of great value. Proper preparation for your DMV hearing will greatly improve your chances of regaining your privilege.