How to Get an Alabama Hardship License

If you were recently released from prison or your license is suspended, you might be able to drive again with an Alabama hardship license.
Written by R.E. Fulton
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Thanks to a new law,
drivers with suspended licenses or criminal records may qualify for a hardship license that grants certain limited driving privileges for essential functions.
Hardship licenses are fairly new to Alabama, but they offer a chance at freedom for drivers who have lost their free driving privileges for a number of reasons. In this guide, we’ll go over how they work, who qualifies, and how to get one.

Does Alabama offer hardship licenses?

Yes—as of 2019.
In Alabama, a hardship license is a special type of
driver’s license
that allows drivers whose licenses have been suspended or revoked to drive in certain limited circumstances: e.g., to work, school, polling places, or the doctor. 

Who’s eligible for a hardship license in Alabama?

The state of Alabama restricts hardship licenses to a fairly limited group of drivers. Under the new law, you’re eligible to apply if:
  • Your license was
    suspended or revoked
    and you can’t obtain any reasonable alternative transportation
  • You’re participating in a state-recognized Community Corrections Program or a work-release program regulated by the Alabama Department of Corrections 
  • You were recently released from Alabama’s Department of Corrections custody
But there are a few exceptions. Certain serious traffic offenses listed under
Alabama Code Title 32
will make you ineligible for a hardship license.
Leaving the scene
of a car accident with injuries or fatalities,
drunk driving
, vehicular manslaughter, or using a motor vehicle to commit a felony can all disqualify you from an Alabama hardship license. 
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Where you can drive with an Alabama hardship license

The point of a hardship license is that it restricts your driving privileges while allowing you to complete basic responsibilities and care for yourself and your family members. With that in mind, here are the places you can drive if you have an Alabama hardship license:
  • Work: You’ll be permitted to drive to and from your place of work, as well as job training and job interviews. 
  • Education: You’ll be able to drive to and from any state-recognized school where you’re regularly enrolled, as well as school events for a family member or dependent (e.g., you can pick up your child or sibling from school). 
  • Household: You can drive to purchase food and other necessities, and to carry out other essential household duties. 
  • Voting: If you’re eligible to vote in Alabama, you can use a hardship license to drive to and from your polling place. 
  • Medical: You’ll be permitted to drive to and from scheduled doctor’s appointments (both medical and mental health), to and from the pharmacy, and in medical emergencies (e.g. bringing someone to the ER). 
  • Religious: You can drive to and from a religious service as well as civic events that meet basic secular needs. 
  • Court: If you have any court-order programs (e.g. rehab or AA), court appearances, community service, work release program, etc., you can drive to and from those programs.
That’s a pretty extensive list—but it leaves out all driving solely for pleasure or for social events. With an Alabama hardship license, you can’t drive just to meet up with friends; you can’t take a road trip; you can’t drive your date to the movies. And no matter what, you must follow all the traffic laws that any standard Class D driver’s license is subject to.

How to apply

The Alabama hardship license application process is fairly straightforward. You’ll need to fill out
a simple application form
and submit it via email, fax, or mail.
The complicated part of the application process is obtaining all the documentation required for your hardship license. You’ll need to include all of the following with your application:
  • A complete list of the places you expect to travel (e.g. work, home, school, etc.) along with addresses for each
  • Documentation for the anticipated routes of travel (e.g. Google Maps or MapQuest)
  • A complete list of the times you expect to travel (e.g. your work shifts, school schedule, or church service time)
  • A complete list and description of all the vehicles you expect to drive (including owner, make, model, and license plate number) along with
    proof of mandatory liability insurance
    for each
Depending on your reasons for applying for a hardship license, you may also need to provide some or all of the following:
  • A letter from the director of your work release or community service program documenting your enrollment 
  • A statement explaining your inability to find reliable alternative transportation
  • (for renewals only) Documentation of good cause to the reasonable satisfaction of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA)
To submit your application to ALEA, use the following information:
By email
By fax
By mail
ALEA Driver License Division – Hardship License Unit 
PO Box 1471 
Montgomery, AL 36102

How much does an Alabama hardship driver’s license cost?

An Alabama hardship license costs the same amount as any other Alabama driver’s license: $36.25, with an additional 4% surcharge for credit cards.
MORE: How to get car insurance with a bad driving record
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Because every application is reviewed individually, approval time can vary widely. Once you are approved, you’ll have 60 days to pick up your license at an ALEA driver’s license office.
No. Unlike certain other states, Alabama doesn’t issue hardship licenses to minors.
Not always. While some Alabamians can get a hardship license after a license suspension, your eligibility depends on why your license was suspended in the first place. For example, if the Department of Public Safety suspended your license due to a DUI, you’ll have to wait until you’re eligible for a full reinstatement—even if you can’t find reasonable transportation.
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