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Getting a hardship license after a DUI: 3 things you should know

One of the hardest aspects of a DUI arrest is its impact on your driver's license. Losing your license may be more than just an inconvenience. It can also sidetrack your job, education and ability to care for your family. And given the harsh consequences of driving without a license, ignoring the law and getting behind the wheel anyway is not a smart decision.

Fortunately, you might have another way to get your driving privileges back, at least on a restricted basis: a hardship license. Below are three things you should know about hardship licenses in Florida.

1. There are actually two types of hardship licenses.

One gives you more freedom than the other. Depending on your offense and prior record, you might qualify only for the more restricted license.

The better option for those who qualify is a "business purposes only" or class C license. It allows you to drive:

  • To and from work
  • During work, for job-related functions
  • For educational opportunities
  • For religious activities
  • For medical purposes

The second type - "employment purposes only" or class D - is more restricted. You can only drive to and from work and on the job, if required for your work.

Neither type of license allows recreational or nonessential driving. Still, some driving privileges are better than none.

2. Even if you have a prior record, you could still qualify.

What if you're facing a second, third or fourth DUI offense? Can you still get a hardship license?

As with almost everything in this tricky area of law, the answer is, "It depends." The timing of your prior convictions can affect your ability to qualify for a hardship license. Even if you're eligible, you will have to wait a certain timeframe before you can apply.

However, you should never assume you're out of luck. An experienced DUI defense lawyer can help you determine whether you're eligible based on your unique situation.

3. Getting a hardship license requires time and money.

It's not as simple as filing an application. You must also invest the time and effort to:

  • Show that your inability to drive would cause serious hardship for yourself or your family
  • Complete DUI school within 90 days
  • Participate in any required substance abuse treatments
  • Take required examinations
  • Submit proof of adequate insurance coverage

Depending on your circumstances, you may have to participate in the Special Suspension Service (SSS) Program and get approval to apply for a hardship license. This intensive program is mandatory for those facing certain serious offenses. As part of the program, you may have to abstain from alcohol and drugs, fulfill regular reporting requirements, participate in recommended treatment programs and submit to random drug and alcohol testing.

Getting a hardship license also involves money. These expenses may include:

  • Examination fees
  • Administrative fees
  • Revocation reinstatement fee
  • License fees
  • SSS program fees
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device

Despite the challenges and costs involved in getting a hardship license, for many, it's still well worth the trouble to get back into normal life and back on the road.

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