Hardship Driver's Licenses

Authored By: Louisiana Employment Task Force


About A Hardship License

If your license is suspended in Louisiana, you might still be able to drive for special reasons. After 30 days of suspension for a first offense, you may be eligible for a hardship license. To obtain it, you must show that you need to drive in order to “maintain the necessities of life.” Examples include driving to and from work, medical care, school, or the grocery store. Drivers under this restriction are only permitted to be on certain designated streets and may be on the road only during hours when working, attending school, or receiving medical treatment. If you’re stopped while driving under a hardship license, it’s up to the officer’s discretion to determine that you were in fact driving for an authorized purpose.

What You Need To Know

A hardship driver's license is a restricted license issued by the Office of Motor Vehicles (Department of Public Safety) to someone whose driving privileges are under suspension. This type of license allows you to drive during the suspension for the purpose of earning a livelihood, for medical hardship, or for the necessities of life. A hardship license can only be issued for a Class D (chauffeur) or E (personal vehicle) license. 

No. You can't get a hardship license to operate a commercial motor vehicle (Class A, B, or C). But, you may be able to downgrade a Class A, B, or C operator's license to a Class D or E and, then, you may apply for a hardship license.

By law, the restrictions have to include the following:

(a) You can drive only on such streets as would enable you to earn your livelihood or for the treatment of your debilitative condition;

(b) Your driving is restricted to such times during which you are involved in earning a living or for treatment of your debilitative condition;

(c) If earning your living or getting necessary medical treatment will require a change in any of the court's restrictions during the period of your suspension, you have to go back to court to get those restrictions changed.

(d) Any other restrictions that the court determines to be necessary and proper.

Maybe. The judge can order that your restricted license include permission to drive to and from meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and to drive to and from approved group therapy or special education courses for or about the disease of alcoholism, alcohol abuse or drug abuse in a suitable public or private institution or program approved by the appropriate state authority.

Before the judge orders this, the judge may require a medical evaluation, a doctor's recommendation that you are pathologically addicted to alcohol or other drugs, and require that you submit to medical treatment and/or medically approved group therapy or special education courses for or about the disease of alcoholism, alcohol abuse or drug abuse in a suitable public or private institution or program approved by the appropriate state authority.

Yes. A copy of the order with the restrictions must be attached to your license and must be in your possession whenever you drive. It's a good idea to keep a certified copy of the order in your glove box along with your proof of insurance and certificate of registration. The clerk of court will certify your copy for a small fee. DPS/OMV will issue you a restricted license with a big red R printed on the front.

Maybe. Usually, the losing party must pay the court costs, but remember that you're suing a state agency. Under the law, the court may hold the state liable for court costs, but the state agency doesn't have to pay any such costs until the judgment becomes final and the funds have been appropriated by the Legislature in a specific dollar amount.

How To Apply

How Do I Apply For A Hardship License?

If your driver's license was suspended, revoked, or cancelled, and after the initial notice from the department, you have the right to apply to the department for a restricted license.  In the event that the department fails or refuses to issue the restricted license, you have the right to file a petition for a hardship driver's license in the district court of the parish that you are domiciled.  

Steps To Apply

To apply for a hardship license, you must wait 30 days from the time your driver's license is suspended. You must also be able to show that you need a hardship license to maintain your livelihood or support yourself. 

The only drivers that may successfully get a hardship license are those that hold a Class D or Class E license. A Class D license is one for a personal vehicle. A Class E license is a chauffeur. Classes A, B, and C are for commercial vehicle drivers and are not eligible to apply for a hardship license. 

If you have a suspended license in another state and you then move to Louisiana, you will not be eligible for a hardship license in Louisiana. 

Be sure you can afford all of the fees necessary. Depending on why your license has been suspended, you will may need to pay for all or some of the following: the reinstatement fee, the cost of a new license, court costs, attorney fees if applicable, SR-22 insurance (high-risk insurance), and liability insurance.

Ignition interlock devices are also known as car breathalyzers. The devices are installed and connected to your starter to require a breath test before driving. The devices:

  • Won’t allow you to start your car if your BrAC (breath alcohol content) is above the pre-set limit
  • Often requests random retests during trips to ensure the driver remains sober

Some offenders may be eligible to regain their driving privileges if they agree to install an ignition interlock device. Drivers can then apply for a hardship license. This will allow them to drive to approved places such as work, school, medical appointments, and scheduled treatment. In order to get a hardship license drivers must:

  • Install an IID at an approved provider and provide proof to the court or office of motor vehicles
  • Pay any applicable fines
  • Provide proof of SR-22 insurance
  • Complete any mandated treatment programs or community service

The court may require additional criteria depending on the specifics of the incident.

Louisiana law on hardship license states the following for a petition to the court for a hardship license: 

Such application or petition for a restricted license shall allege that revocation of his driving privileges will deprive him or his family of the necessities of life, will prevent him from earning a livelihood, or prevent him from obtaining proper medical treatment if disabled.  The district court is vested with jurisdiction to set the matter for contradictory hearing in open court upon ten days written notice to the department, and thereupon to determine whether the allegations of hardship have merit.  Upon determination by the department or the court that the lack of a license would deprive the person or his family of the necessities of life or prevent the licensee from obtaining proper medical treatment if disabled, the department may grant or the court may order that the person be granted, by the department, a restricted license to enable the person to continue to support his family or to obtain such medical treatment as provided for in this Section.

Other Issues To Consider

Other Issues When Obtaining A Hardship License

There are several reasons why you may have your driver’s license suspended in the state of Louisiana. Among the most common is a DWI (driving while intoxicated) violation. Below you can find more information regarding the specific situation with your suspended license. 

Other Issues When Obtaining A Hardship License

You may still be able to get a hardship driver's license to travel to and from your job during specific time periods but only if

  • the Department of Social Services recommends it to DPS/OMV and
  • there are no other suspensions on your record.

You will need (1) a letter from the Department of Social Services recommending that you get a hardship license, and (2) a $60.00 reinstatement fee plus the cost of the license.

You may have to have an ignition interlock device installed in your car for a restricted driver's license after:

(1) a first- or second-offense DWI conviction;

(2) driving under suspension if the suspension resulted from a first- or second-offense DWI conviction;

(3) your refusal to submit to blood alcohol testing when arrested for a first- or second-offense DWI, or

(4) if you had a blood alcohol test and the test results showed more than 0.08 grams of alcohol or less than 0.08 grams but you were nevertheless convicted of first- or second-offense DWI.

No. You may drive your employer's car in the course of your job without an interlock device. But, before you can do that, your employer has to send DPS/OMV a letter that he knows that you are otherwise restricted to driving with an interlocking device. If you don't drive your employer's car, you don't need that letter.

If you're self-employed or you own the company, the interlock device must be installed in the company vehicle in order for you to drive it. But, an interlock device cannot be installed in a commercial vehicle just to get a hardship license.

No. You can only drive the vehicle with the interlock device.

Yes. You will need:

(1)A written request for the interlock to DPS;

(2)A certificate of installation of the interlock;

(3)A copy of the lease agreement for the interlock;

(4)An SR-22 or SR-22 binder;

(5)To pay all reinstatement and license fees, and

(6)A letter from your employer (if you're driving a company vehicle) stating that the employer is aware of the interlock device.

Yes, if you haven't been suspended more than once for DWI. You first should talk with a lawyer who knows this area of law. You could make a mistake that would harm your case. If you can't afford a lawyer, contact your local Legal Services office.

Going to court starts with a petition in the state district court of the parish where you live. You would have to show that loss of your license will deprive you or your family of necessities of life, will keep you from earning needed income or will keep you from getting needed medical treatment. The court will set the case for a hearing after ten day's written notice to DPS/OMV because the state has a right to take a position for or against you. If the judge refuses a restricted license, you can appeal to a higher court.

In Louisiana, high-risk driving offenses like DUI or reckless driving require a driver to obtain an SR-22 form. Your insurance carrier will submit the form to the state on your behalf. SR-22 insurance in Louisiana is not a separate policy but a document that will prove that your auto insurance policy has enough coverage to comply with the state minimum requirement.

You will be required to have SR-22 insurance for a period of time that will be decided by the DMV. The default period of time in Louisiana is 3 years. During these 3 years of carrying the SR22 Licence, you will have to maintain continuous coverage of the SR22 insurance policy. Otherwise, if there are any lapses in or cancellations of the SR22 insurance policy, your car insurance company is required to inform the DMV who would then seize the hardship license of the driver.

Auto insurance for a driver who needs SR-22 insurance in Louisiana is more expensive than a standard policy due to the severity of the violation. You can find out detailed information by contacting your insurance policyholder. 

Last Review and Update: Nov 03, 2021
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