Hardship License in Clearwater, Tampa, St Pete & other Florida Locations: Contact a DUI Attorney for Assistance

Losing your drivers license is one of the most difficult penalties to cope with after you are pulled over for DUI in Florida. Whether you need to commute to work every day in Clearwater or drive back-and-forth to school in Tampa, losing your license will stop you from completing the necessary tasks of life. Thankfully, a person stopped for DUI can often qualify for a hardship license. The hardship license is also available to some drivers who have been convicted of a DUI.

Your DUI attorney should be able to advise you of the hardship license options available to you. If you would like to receive a free initial consultation about your case, DUI attorney Charles Holloway, P.A., would like to hear from you. We have an office in Clearwater to assist you, and we invite you to call or e-mail us for more information.

Hardship Drivers License

This section will attempt to advise those who wish to obtain a “hardship license” from the Dept. of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). This hardship license information applies to the entire state of Florida including Clearwater, Tampa, and St Petersburg, as well as Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, and Pasco County.

The term, “hardship license” refers to a license that restricts the driver’s ability to drive to specific, limited purposes (such as employment or medical). Below, the following Florida hardship license issues will be addressed:

(1) Who would want or need a hardship license?
(2) What are the various types and restrictions of the hardship license?
(3) Who is eligible for a hardship license?
(4) What are the rules & procedures associated with obtaining the hardship license?
(5) How should the driver use the hardship license?

(1) Who Wants or Needs a Hardship License?

If your license has been suspended by the DHSMV, whether it’s because of a DUI in Clearwater or refusal to take an Intoxilyzer (commonly known as a breathalyzer) test in Tampa, you may wish to obtain a hardship license in order to continue driving for work and/or the essential needs of daily living. If you qualify, you may obtain this restricted license in order to drive while your criminal/traffic charge is pending with the Court, or after your charge has resulted in a conviction by the Court. Your DUI attorney should be able to help you determine whether or not you qualify for a hardship license in your particular case, but the following information is a good summary of how the hardship license process works.

(2) What Are the Types & Restrictions?
(1) “Business Purposes Only”: This license is officially designated as a “C” type restricted license. It is defined by statute as “a driving privilege that is limited to any driving necessary to maintain livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on-the-job driving, driving for educational purposes, and driving for church or medical purposes.”

(2) “Employment Purposes Only”: This license is officially designated as a “D” type restricted license. It is defined by statute as “a driving privilege that is limited to driving to and from work and any necessary on-the-job driving required by an employer or occupation.”
Note: Neither the “C” nor “D” type restricted license can be used for pleasure, recreational or nonessential driving. The “Business Purposes” license permits driving that includes buying groceries. The “Employment Purposes” license is more limited in scope and only permits driving to, from, and during work. Getting any type of hardship license may also require you to participate in an ignition interlock device program, which would require an Intoxilyzer-type device to be installed in your vehicle.

(3) Who is Eligible for a Hardship License in Florida?
(1) DUI Charge Pending: If your license has been suspended by the DHSMV as a result of your arrest for DUI, you may qualify for a hardship license while your DUI case is still pending in the Court system. This temporary hardship license would have to be renewed after a conviction for DUI, provided you qualify for a hardship license at that time.

(2) 1ST DUI Conviction: If you are convicted of DUI by the Court, your license will be revoked for a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 12 months. This revocation period begins on the date of conviction by the Court.

(3) 2nd DUI Conviction (more than 5 years): If you are convicted by the Court, your license will be revoked for a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 12 months. You are not permitted to obtain a hardship license and must complete the period of revocation before obtaining the reinstatement of your regular license.

(4) 2nd DUI Conviction (within 5 years): If you are convicted by the Court, you license will be revoked for a period of 5 years. You may apply for a hardship license after first completing 1 year of the revocation.

(5) 3rd DUI Conviction (more than 10 years): If you are convicted by the Court, your license will be revoked for a minimum of 6 months to a maximum of 12 months. However, if the 2 most recent convictions are within 5 years of each other, your license will be revoked for a period of 5 years, as described above.

(6) 3rd DUI Conviction (within 10 years): If you are convicted by the Court, your license will be revoked for 10 years. You may apply for a hardship license after first completing 2 years of the revocation.

(7) 4th DUI Conviction: If you are convicted by the Court, your license will be permanently revoked. You are not eligible for a hardship license.

(8) DUI Manslaughter: If you are convicted of this charge, your license will be permanently revoked. However, you may apply for a hardship license after first completing 5 years of the revocation.

(9) DUI Manslaughter (with prior DUI): If you are convicted and have a prior DUI conviction, your license will be permanently revoked. You are not eligible for a hardship license.

Note: To determine whether your present DUI conviction falls within either 5 or 10 years of a prior conviction, you must first determine the relevant dates of conviction. In other words, if the date of your present offense is within 5 or 10 years of the date of your most recent prior conviction, then the revocation and hardship periods described above will be applied.

(4) What Are the Rules & Procedures for Obtaining a Hardship License?

In many cases, you will have to serve some or all of your other DUI penalties before you can obtain a hardship license.
(1) DUI Charge Pending: You may be eligible to obtain a hardship license while your DUI charge is still pending in the Criminal Court. At the least, you would need to show proof of enrollment in the DUI Driving School and any counseling that may be required. You may apply for the license from the Driver Improvement Office in the county where you reside, be it Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, etc.

(2) 1st DUI Conviction: If you have been convicted by the Court, the rules change and you would need to show proof that you have completed the DUI Driving School and are at least enrolled in any counseling that may be required.

(3) 2nd and 3rd DUI Convictions:
(A) 2nd Conviction requires that you wait 1 year from the date of the DHSMV revocation before you can apply for a hardship license.

(B) 3rd Conviction requires that you wait 2 years from the date of the Court-imposed 10 year revocation before you can apply for a hardship license.
The requirements for obtaining this type of hardship license include:

1) Obtaining a recommendation from the Special Supervision Services Program.

2) Completing the DUI Multiple Offender Driving School.

3) No driving at all during the 1 or 2 year period following revocation.

4) No use of drugs or alcohol during the 1 or 2 year period.

5) Completing any other conditions such as counseling and treatment.

6) Showing a valid photo ID

7) Presenting a recent report from the Clerk of Court to confirm no driving offenses occurred during the 1 or 2 year period.

(4) General Procedures: If you are applying for a hardship license on a 1st DUI conviction, you should contact the Driver Improvement Office of the DHSMV in the county where you live. If you are applying for the license on a 2nd or 3rd DUI conviction, you should first contact your local Safety Council office and register for the Special Supervision Program. This program will require that you complete several conditions and pay associated fees and expenses. Some of the conditions include:
A) That you report to the program at least 3 times per year, and as often as every month.

B) That you submit to an alcohol evaluation, in addition to the one that is required by the Court as a condition of your conviction and sentence. You will be required to complete any additional counseling that may be recommended as a result of this evaluation.

C) That you submit to any special conditions of the program such as random alcohol and/or drug testing and counseling for relapse prevention.

Once your entire revocation period is completed, you will still need to reinstate your regular license. This is a simple process, provided you applied for a hardship license during the revocation period. If you did not apply for a hardship license, you will be required to show proof of enrollment in, or completion of, DUI School and counseling (if required). Failure to complete the school within 90 days of reinstatement or failure to complete treatment will result in the cancellation of your license.

(5) How Should the Hardship License Be Used?

If you have a hardship license and are caught driving for an unauthorized purpose, such as driving to Clearwater for a day at the beach or to Tampa for an evening on the town, you may be arrested and your car impounded. You would then be subject to prosecution and punishment and the DHSMV would revoke your license for violation of the restrictions. Some examples of unauthorized driving would include stopping at a friends’ house, a bar, a movie theatre, or a restaurant. In other words, driving for purposes of pleasure or entertainment is not permitted.

The best defense to arrest and suspension for violation of a hardship restriction is to limit your driving to only those purposes which are authorized. However, if you should be stopped for such common infractions as having an expired tag, a burned-out tail light, or for speeding, the officer will likely ask whether you are driving for legitimate hardship purposes. With this in mind, you should consider the following suggestions to minimize the chance that the officer will suspect that you are driving for pleasure or entertainment:
(1) You should not drive late at night, as this raises the suspicion that you are not driving for legitimate purposes. If you do have to drive at night, make sure that you have an explanation and some proof, if possible, of your intended goal or obligation. For example, if you are going to a job, have the name, address and phone number of your boss or customer handy.

(2) If you have to drive for school, you should have a copy of your class schedule and your registration available to demonstrate your purpose.

(3) If you have a doctor’s appointment, you should have some proof of the appointment or the name, address and phone number of the doctor’s office.

(4) You should be mindful to dress appropriately for the intended purpose. For example, if you are going to work you should not be dressed for the beach, golf course or tennis court.

(5) If you are driving to, during or from work you should have your materials, equipment or tools on board in order to demonstrate that your purpose is legitimate.

(6) Avoid drinking alcohol before driving, as the officer may assume that you just came from a bar, or worse, suspect you of DUI.

(7) Make sure that your vehicle equipment is operating properly (e.g. tail lights, tag lights, headlights) and that your tag has not expired. Also avoid committing any traffic infractions such as speeding or running a red light. This will help to minimize the opportunity for law enforcement to stop you in the first place.
This list is not all inclusive, but is intended to better prepare you to avoid arrest and revocation of your license, and thereby avoid all of the stress, expense, inconvenience and trouble that would ensue.

For more information about DUI evidence, penalties, and defense options, please contact DUI attorney Charles Holloway, P.A. today.