If you have been convicted of a serious vehicle offense, such as reckless driving or a DUI, your driver's license may be suspended or even revoked by the state that issued it as a penalty. For example, in Massachusetts, the RMV must suspend or revoke your driver's license based on various criminal or civil traffic offenses, such as having 3 speeding tickets within a year or 3 convictions for failing to have transparent windows.
Various terms may be used to refer to a hardship license. It may be called a conditional license, a restricted license, or a limited driving privilege. The purpose of these types of licenses is to permit people to avoid job loss or losing the ability to go to school or rehab, all of which may require driving, even though those people may not be allowed to drive for social or other reasons.
Process of Applying for a Hardship License
Each state has its own laws regulating the circumstances under which you can apply for and receive a hardship license. For example, in New York, the DMV can issue a conditional license to a driver with a license suspension or revocation based on an alcohol or drug-related violation, but the driver needs to go to a program, complete a course, and complete any required alcohol assessment or treatment in order to qualify. The New York DMV can also issue a restricted use license to eligible drivers if their license is suspended or revoked due to non-alcohol or drug-related vehicle violations.
Each state also has its own rules about how to apply for a hardship license. Often, you need to submit an application through the State Department of Motor Vehicles. In some states, you may need to go to a hearing before a judge or the DMV to ask for the hardship license, and a judge or an official will set restrictions for the license based on your reason for asking for the hardship license. As part of your application, you will usually need to show that you must be able to drive to go to a job, attend school or get your children to school, receive alcohol or drug treatment, get emergency medical care, or execute other critical tasks.
Restrictions on Hardship Licenses
Hardship licenses do not restore all of your driving privileges. Usually, they specify when you are allowed to drive and where you are allowed to drive. There are states in which you might be required to take a certain route to work or school. You may also face restrictions on the times of day during which you can drive, such as from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
There may be a definite period, prior to getting your hardship license, during which you will not be allowed to drive. Usually, you cannot apply for a hardship license immediately after your license is suspended or revoked. This period during which you cannot drive serves as a penalty for the vehicle offense or multiple vehicle offenses you were charged with. Many states also require the installation of an ignition interlock device as a condition of issuing a hardship license.
You should be aware that if you are granted a hardship or restricted license, and you violate the restrictions set by the judge or official, you may face a revocation of that license. In that situation, you will not be able to apply for another restricted license.