Everybody makes mistakes, but when that mistake includes getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, most states will take away your driving privileges. But many states do recognize what a burden that can be on people whose families depend on them for income or who need to get their education.
In those cases, many states will allow you to obtain what's known as a hardship license. A hardship license comes with limits, though. The laws vary by state. For example, in some states, like Florida, would limit your driving to certain approved places, like to school, work (or driving necessary for work) or a medical appointment. Other states are more broad and only limit your driving to specific hours. But as you may have suspected, it's not that simple.
It Depends on Whether Your License Was Suspended or Revoked
In many states, they only allow you a hardship license if your license was suspended. Suspension is a punishment. Revocation means they believe you're a potential hazard on the road and that includes driving to work or school. If they do allow individuals with revoked licenses to have a hardship license, the driver will usually have much stricter limitations on the circumstances that allow them to drive.
There Are Usually Additional Requirements
It's unlikely most states that have bothered to suspend your license will just hand out a hardship license. There are probably going to be fees associated with it and you may have to take classes or provide additional documentation. There may also be a required waiting period — a number of days during which you must not drive after your DUI was issued before you can even apply for a hardship license (which is just as well since you'll have a lot of documentation to put together anyway). You may even be required to install an ignition interlock device (a device that requires you to take and pass a breathalyzer before your car will start. You may also be required to see a probation officer or comply with other conditions established by the court.
For example, in Florida, where we have a waiting period of 30 days if you blew over the 0.08 limit or 90 days if you refused a breathalyzer, the court may require you to attend DUI school and treatment, in which case you'll have to provide proof of enrollment or completion. If you don't complete the course within 90 days, your license will be cancelled. You'll also have to take a 12-hour driver improvement course (and provide your proof of enrollment) and get your 30-day driving record from the county clerk's office. You'll show up at the DHSMV with all your documentation and then the hearing officer will decide whether or not you qualify for a hardship license. If you fail to continue to comply with the court's other requirements (such as missing an appointment with your probation officer), your hardship license may be canceled.
Not Everyone Qualifies for a Hardship License
Some states won't offer hardship licenses for those convicted of DUIs. States may also refuse a hardship license to anyone who caused property damage, injury or death related to drinking and driving. They may also restrict availability based on whether the conviction was a felony or misdemeanor (making it very important to hire an experienced DUI lawyer to handle your case). It may also be based on how many DUI convictions you have on your record. Obviously, it's easier for first-time offenders than repeat offenders. If you do have multiple convictions, expect more stringent restrictions if they do allow you to apply.
It's Even Worse if You're a Commercial Driver
If you're a commercial driver, you won't be allowed to drive a commercial vehicle for at least one year and you won't be eligible for a hardship license.
Were You're Pulled Over for DUI?
If you were caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it's best to get a qualified DUI attorney involved early, as the severity of your conviction will affect everything that happens in the future — your penalty (your fines, punishments, requirements and even whether you serve jail time), your qualification for a hardship license and possibly (though hopefully not) what happens if you're caught again.
If you're facing DUI charges in the Kissimmee, Florida, area, call the experienced DUI lawyers at Draper Law Offices at 866.767.4711 for a free, no-obligation consultation.