Hardship licenses are available under certain circumstances. They give limited driving privileges to someone without a valid driver’s license or with a suspended license. Whether or not you can get one depends on why you don’t have a clean driver’s license and why you need it.
Reasons for not having a clean driver’s license
There are two main reasons for the loss of driving privileges, although there are multiple situations that could land you in one of these predicaments.
Suspended driver’s license. A driver’s license is commonly suspended as a result of too many traffic violations or for driving while intoxicated. It’s often suspended for a specific period of time, such as three to six months.
A safe driving course and/or completion of a treatment program may also be mandated.
Revoked driver’s license. A driver’s license can be revoked for serious traffic violations, an inability to drive safely due to physical impairment, and habitually driving while intoxicated.
Having a license revoked is not the same as having it suspended. A revoked license is actually taken away completely, not just suspended for a few months. Hardship licenses are more difficult to get if your license has been revoked, but it is still possible.
Reasons for getting a hardship license
There are four different purposes for which a hardship license can be issued. If you are fortunate enough to be granted a hardship license, you must only use it for the purpose designated by the court.
To drive to work. Hardship licenses are most often granted to allow people with a suspended license to drive to work. The terms of a hardship license are extremely limited, though.
It is valid only for driving to and from work. Driving elsewhere on a hardship license granted for this purpose will get you in serious trouble.
To transport children to and from school. Hardship licenses are sometimes given to parents who must drive their children to and from school.
If they get caught driving elsewhere, though, the penalty is steep.
To drive to and from a medical facility. Hardship licenses are sometimes granted for people who must drive themselves to a medical facility on a regular basis for treatment.
Generally, though, the treatments must be fairly frequent to warrant a hardship license. Treatments that are only given once per month or every few months rarely qualify.
Not old enough to get a driver’s license. Some states will give a hardship license to young people who must drive to school or a family business but aren’t quite old enough to get a regular driver’s license. This is usually only in very rural areas, though.
How to get a hardship license
Step 1: Contact your local DMV to find out if you qualify. You may simply not qualify. It is also entirely possible that you will qualify after you complete a course. You may also need to have a hearing to see if you qualify. Each state has different requirements.
Step 2: Go to your county Clerk of Courts office to get information about your case. You may need to request a 30 day driving record search in order to get the required information.
Step 3: Satisfy the requirements. Take the course and/or wait out the length of time required. Again, this varies from state to state.
Some states will only grant a hardship license to you after you have had your license suspended for a brief period. It’s usually a shorter length of time than the original suspension, though.
Having your license suspended or taken away causes a lot of problems if you rely on your car to get around. A hardship license could be a good temporary solution for you to keep going on with life while you work on getting your regular license reinstated.