You got caught driving without car insurance when you were involved in an accident, drinking and driving or just have too many other violations. So now they’re suspending your driver’s license! Oh. My. Gosh. Now you’re banging your head on the wall wondering how in the world are you going to get to work, not to mention taking the kids to daycare or going grocery shopping. This is when the panic sets in. Stop. Breathe. We’ve all made mistakes so now it’s time to get it together and move forward. One of the ways that may be a possibility is to get what’s commonly called a “hardship license.”
The States often call “hardship licenses” by official names; “Limited Driving Privilege” [LDP] is quite common. They also go by names such as “Occupational Driver License” [ODL], or “Essential Need License” [ENL]. How do you know if you can get one? An internet search to get to your state’s requirements can be effective or call your State’s licensing department. A good car insurance agent can be an ally to help you with navigating the process too, unless their carrier does not provide such policies. Of course, attorneys should also be able to help but are not necessarily required. You can call the state to ask if you qualify; then, if yes, ask what they need you to do to get it done and follow through. In some cases you must prove to the court that you need this restricted driving privilege. Not everyone qualifies but it’s worth checking. If you have certain types of convictions or administrative actions on your driver record, you may not be eligible to receive hardship status.
Note: Some states with a lot of ranches/farms/agriculture, like Texas, may consider a hardship license one for young drivers (also known as a Minor Restricted Driver License --MRDL). In this Texas example, this is a driver license one can get before age 16 years or without having a permit for a minimum of 6 months. In order to obtain this hardship license, one must show proof of why they need to drive as soon as possible. This is not the type of hardship we’re discussing here.
What is a hardship?
In a nutshell, it’s permission to drive even though your driving privilege has been taken away. The hardship license status, if granted, is written permission that allows a person to drive a motor vehicle under certain, pre-approved situations specified individually. The allowed destinations are typically written out on the letter granting the hardship driving and must be carried by the driver, as they would their driver’s license.
What does a hardship do for you?
If your driver’s license is Suspended or Revoked, a hardship gives you permission to drive under very restricted circumstances. There’s typically a checklist and you may be required to list the addresses of the places you need to go, for instance your work or daycare address. You must carry it with you to provide upon demand, like you would with your driver’s license. You specify to the DMV (or court) that you need to get to certain places in order to live your life. Places you might include are:
· Your job (or to drive a company vehicle as part of your job)
· Your school
· Your kids’ school
· Drug treatment/SATOP
· Emergency medical care, doctors, pharmacy
· Gas Stations
· Daycare for your children or older adult
Since it is restrictive privilege, you will want to take a few moments to go through all the places you’ll need to include on the list. Some people find it helpful to think about the places they’ve been during the past year or look forward to where they’ll need to go in the upcoming year. For instance, you may have to go on a job interview so check it even if you have a job now. If you’re caught driving to a place not listed on your hardship, you can plan on forfeiting the status and potentially getting a driving while suspended ticket. You’ll also want to make sure you keep up on all the requirements, such as your car insurance, so you don’t lose the license.
What are some things that could make you ineligible to receive a hardship?
Here are a few things that could prevent you from being allowed to get a hardship:
- You are already eligible for reinstatement but haven’t met all the reinstatement requirements.
- You have been convicted, during the last five years, of a felony involving a motor vehicle.
- You have a revocation for failure to pass a driving or medical examination as required.
- You have a suspension for an unsatisfied motor vehicle accident judgment (until payment has been made and compliance has been met).
- You have a suspension for failure to pay a ticket in your state or another state (until payment has been made and compliance has been met).
The above is not an exhaustive list. Each state has its own guidelines and has the final say.
Am I required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in order to obtain a hardship?
If you have one or more alcohol offenses or you have an active Chemical Revocation on your driver record, you may need proof of installation for an Ignition Interlock Device of one type or another for a hardship to be considered or issued. The IID must be maintained for at least the duration of the hardship. Some IIDs are also equipped with a camera. The court may also order your device to be equipped with a GPS. The final decision for your case is for the court and/or license bureau to decide.
Am I required to carry an SR-22 in order to obtain a hardship license?
Most likely, since it provides proof to your state that you’re keeping up with your car insurance. If you drop your insurance coverage before the hardship expires, the hardship will also be cancelled. In some cases, you may not be able to get it back.
This should help clear up the most common questions we get on “hardship licenses.” Whether you qualify is ultimately up to the state or offended court, but it often takes only a phone call to find out if you are eligible.
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