Has your license been revoked or suspended due to tickets or a DUI?
Driving is a fundamental part of our daily lives. From work to running errands, we rely on the ability to get from Point A to Point B at a moment’s notice. But what happens if your license has been suspended? How do you get to school or work?
Obtaining a “Hardship License” may be the answer.
In this guide we’ll explore how to get a hardship license, getting you back on the road in no time.
What is a “Hardship” or “Restricted” License?
Most of us are highly dependent on the ability to drive. Losing your license may mean you can no longer get to school or work, having potentially devastating consequences on your life.
A “hardship license” (sometimes called a ‘restricted license’ or ‘restricted driving permit’) provides the holder with a legal right to continue driving to specified locations at designated times.
If you’ve lost your license, don’t pinch pennies for Uber rides or sign up for a bus pass just yet. Depending on your situation you may be eligible to apply for a restricted license. In this guide, we’ll help walk you through the ins and outs of what this type of license can do for you, how it works, and how to get one.
How Hardship Licenses Work
The intended purpose of a restricted license is to enable those with suspended licenses to continue to meet their adult obligations, namely, avoid losing their job or getting kicked out of school.
A restricted license does not restore your usual driving privileges. If granted, hardship licenses also have several restrictions placed on them.
These typically include restrictions on:
- The number of miles that can be driven
- The days of the week you can drive
- The hours of the day you can drive
- Where you are allowed to drive to and from
- Specific routes you may or may not take when driving
- And more…
What Can You Do With a Hardship License?
A Hardship License May Be Issued to Allow you To:
- Travel to and from work so you don’t lose your job
- Take or pick up your children from school
- Attend school/classes yourself (i.e. College)
- Attend drug or alcohol treatment
- Drive to get medical treatment or care
- And more…
However, just because you NEED a permit for work, school or other obligations doesn’t automatically mean that you are eligible or entitled to one.
Who Is Eligible for a Hardship License?
Eligibility to apply for a hardship license varies per state, but is generally based on the following criteria:
- Your past driving records
- Your license type
- The reason for your suspension
- Whether or not this is your first suspension
Commercial licenses aren’t usually granted a restricted license, and those who have been involved in accidents where major damage and/or injuries were sustained, or who have been charged with more serious crimes such as reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, or vehicular homicide may not qualify.
Some states or situations may also call for a ‘hard suspension’ to first be served for a designated period of time, before which an individual becomes eligible to apply for a hardship license. In many cases, a hard suspension is set for one month, and are most common with DUI suspensions.
How Can I Get a Hardship Permit?
Again, the process may vary slightly state by state, but we’ll walk you through the basics.
General Requirements for Applying: a quick overview
- Prove that you are not a danger to the public
- Attend a hearing before a public officer of the court
- Provide proof of medical evaluation and treatment
- Prove that hardship exists
- Prove that public transportation is not a viable option
- Pay a fee
This is the first step you’ll need to take. Regardless of which state you reside in, the application is typically requested and completed through your state’s DMV. Once submitted, issuance of a hardship license is not automatic. It may take time to process and validate that you are eligible, and that failure to approve your request would result in a significant hardship.
As part of the application process, you may be asked to provide proof, such as a class schedule for college, a doctor’s note confirming a medical necessity, or proof of employment. Additionally, you may need to substantiate that public transportation is not a viable alternative for you and your family.
If approved, you will likely need to pay a ‘hardship license fee’. Those requesting a restricted license due to a DUI or DWI will likely need to pay for the installation of an ‘ignition interlock device’ (IID), requiring the driver to pass a built-in breathalyzer before starting and operating the vehicle.
Attend a Hearing on Your Case
Once you have applied, you must typically attend a hearing in court, during which you will demonstrate your eligibility for the permit by submitting all required documentation and supporting evidence requested. Formal hearings are often requested by mail only, and require a specific form provided by your state.
In some jurisdictions and/or cases, you may be able to request an ‘informal hearing’ on a walk-in basis during regular business hours.
Possible Outcomes of Your Hearing:
- Full reinstatement of your driver’s license
- Denial of license reinstatement
- Issuance of a Restricted driving permit (Hardship license)
Virtually all states mandate a minimum required amount of coverage on your vehicle in order to legally operate it on a public roadway. However, if you’ve had your license suspended due to a DUI (for example), you may also be at risk of losing your insurance. If your insurance carrier opts to drop you, or if you didn’t have insurance to begin with, you still have options.
SR-22 insurance was created to help ‘at risk’ individuals obtain the legal coverage necessary to drive in any state. Although not technically an ‘insurance policy’, SR-22 meets state mandated minimum insurance coverage needed to get back on the road.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Hardship License?
Once you have passed any mandated ‘hard suspension’ periods, you can then apply for a restricted license. After applying you will be given a hearing date. Once you have had your hearing, it may take between 10-90 days to get an answer as to the results.
Once you have the results of your hearing, it can take weeks to months to obtain a hardship license. Notification of approval is usually made by mail and may require further paperwork to be completed.
License Suspended? – don’t lose hope
Losing your license can feel overwhelming. If you’re overcome with worry about how to get to work, school, or even run essential errands, you may have options. Applying for a Hardship License may be the solution you need to get to and from those places that are absolutely essential. Read more about these topics such as What happens if you get caught driving without insurance.