Do I Qualify for a Hardship License in Florida?

When you are arrested for a DUI, two processes are at work: criminal and administrative. The criminal process is the matter handled in court and determines the penalties you face for a conviction. The administrative are those taken care of by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV). In either process, one of the penalties you could face is the loss of your driving privileges, which could have a significant impact on your life. Without a driver’s license, you could have difficulty getting to your job, school, or carrying out work-related tasks. Fortunately, you might be eligible for a hardship license that allows for restricted driving privileges.

How Long Is a Driver’s License Suspended?

The length of time you could lose your driving privileges depends on the specifics of your case and whether you are facing an administrative or court suspension.

The first driver’s license suspension you face is that imposed by the FLHSMV, and it occurs when you:

  • Refuse to submit to a chemical test; or
  • Submitted to a chemical test and the results indicated you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher

You have 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a formal hearing with the FLHSMV and challenge the driver’s license suspension.

If you do not request the hearing, or the department denied your case, you could lose your driving privileges as follows:

  • 6 months if this was your first suspension and you are 21 years of age or older and had a BAC of .08 or above.
  • 1 year if this is your second suspension and you are 21 years of age or older and had a BAC of .08 or higher
  • 1 year if you refused to submit to a chemical test
  • 18 months if this is the second time you refused to submit to a chemical test

The second driver’s license suspension you face is that imposed by the court if you are found guilty of driving under the influence.

The driver’s license suspension periods for a DUI conviction are as follows:

  • 180 days to 1 year for a first offense without bodily injury
  • At least 3 years for a first offense with bodily injury
  • A minimum of 5 years for a second offense that happened within 5 years of the previous
  • A minimum of 10 years for a third offense that occurred within 10 years of the prior conviction

It’s important to note that the administrative and criminal driver’s license suspension periods are separate. That means the outcome of one does not affect the other. For example, if the FLHSMV approves your request for reinstatement during the formal hearing, you could still lose your driving privileges if you’re convicted. Additionally, even if you aren’t convicted, the FLHSMV may still suspend your driver’s license.

Hardship License Eligibility and Process

Losing your driving privileges for any amount of time can make life challenging. Fortunately, Florida offers a hardship driver’s license that restores your driving privileges for specific activities.

Under Florida Statute 322.271, there are two types of hardship licenses you could apply for:

  • Business: This restriction would allow you to drive to and from your job, for work-related purposes, to school, to church, and for medical purposes.
  • Employment: If you are approved for this type of hardship license, you can drive to and from your job and for work-related reasons.

Your eligibility for a hardship license depends on whether or not you lost your driving privileges because of administrative or criminal processes.

If your license was suspended by the FLHSMV, you must:

  • Enroll in a DUI school
  • Have served 30 days of your suspension for an unlawful BAC level
  • Have served 90 days of your suspension for a first-time chemical test refusal
  • Apply for an administrative hearing

You are not eligible for reinstatement for an administrative suspension if you refused a chemical test more than once.

If your driver’s license was suspended because of a conviction, you must meet the following requirements:

  • For a first-time DUI conviction:
    • Complete DUI school
    • Apply for a hardship hearing
    • Install an ignition interlock device on your car for up to 6 months

Second and subsequent convictions are generally not eligible for a hardship license, except as noted below.

  • Second conviction within 5 years, with a 5-year revocation:
    • Complete DUI school
    • Remain on DUI supervision program for the revocation period
    • Refrain from drinking alcohol or using a controlled substance for 1 year before reinstatement
    • Install an ignition interlock device for 1 to 2 years
    • Apply for hardship reinstatement after 1 year
  • Third conviction within 10 years, 10-year revocation:
    • Complete DUI school
    • Remain on DUI supervision program for the remainder of revocation
    • Refrain from consuming alcohol or using a controlled substance for 1 year prior to reinstatement
    • Install an ignition interlock device for 2 years
    • Apply for a hardship hearing after 2 years

To request a hardship hearing, you must complete an application and pay the required fee of $12. When you report for your scheduled hearing, you must bring proof that you are enrolled in or completed a DUI school.

Speak with Roegiers Law About Your DUI Case

The process for reinstating your driving privileges is complex. Attorney Kathryn Roegiers can provide legal advice on how to proceed and whether or not you qualify.

If you were charged with a DUI, call (772) 646-0044 or fill out an online contact form for the defense you need.

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