Kentucky Restricted License

Kentucky offers two types of restricted driver’s licenses: Learner’s permits and hardship licenses.
Written by Brenna Swanston
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Kentucky offers two types of restricted driver's licenses: learner's permits and hardship licenses. Learner's permits serve new drivers who are too young or otherwise do not yet qualify for full, unrestricted licensure. Hardship licenses limit driving privileges to those who have had their full driver's licenses revoked.
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What is a restricted license in Kentucky?

If you don't qualify for an unrestricted driver's license in Kentucky, you may be able to obtain a limited license from the state. These licenses include: 
  • Learner’s permit: New drivers who are at least 16 years old can qualify for a restricted learner's permit. This permit limits when and with whom you can drive. 
  • Hardship license: If you lose your driver's license due to violations like a
    , you may still be eligible for a hardship license. This allows you to drive when necessary. 

How to get a Kentucky learner’s license

New drivers must meet the following qualifications to
obtain a learner's permit
in Kentucky:
  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Pass a written traffic test.
  • Pass a vision test.
  • Provide the required documents:
  • School compliance verification form
  • Social Security card
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Proof of residence
  • Permanent residence card (if applicable)
  • Pay a $12 permit fee.
  • Learner's permits in Kentucky are valid for three years. You may renew your permit if you do not go on to obtain a full, unrestricted driver's license. Depending on when you renew your permit, however, you may have to retake the written traffic test. 

    Restrictions on a Kentucky learner’s license

    To qualify for a full driver's license, new drivers in Kentucky must hold a restricted learner's permit for at least 180 days. During this time, permit-holders must complete at least 60 hours of
    supervised driving
    practice, 10 of which must take place at night. They must also go through a driver education program.
    Limits include:
    • To drive, permit holders need a licensed driver who is at least 21 years of age in the passenger seat.
    • Permit-holders may not drive between midnight and 6 a.m. unless they are traveling to school or work or there is an emergency.
    • Permit holders cannot drive with more than one unrelated person under 20 years of age in the car. 
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    How to get a Kentucky hardship license

    Severe traffic violations, like DUIs or too many violations, can result in your
    license being suspended
    or revoked. If this happens, you may still qualify for a restricted hardship license. In Kentucky, hardship licenses are granted on a case-by-case basis.
    If your license is suspended and you cannot obtain a hardship license, you are not legally permitted to drive.
    The first step to getting a Kentucky hardship license is submitting a completed
    application for a hardship driver's license
    to your local courthouse. You must pay a $5 application fee as well. You should include the following forms with your application:
    • Your approved hardship license paperwork
    • Your suspended driver's license or valid government ID
    • An affidavit completed by your employer, educator, doctor, or alcohol/drug education program provider 

    Restrictions on a Kentucky hardship license

    With a hardship license, you may drive only under specific circumstances. These circumstances may include:
    • Traveling to work or school
    • Attending alcohol and drug education classes
    • Seeking medical treatment
    Again, your eligibility for a hardship license and the license's restrictions are determined on a case-by-case basis

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