What the Driver’s License Office May Not Tell you About DUI Hardship Licenses

What the Driver’s License Office May Not
Tell you About DUI Hardship Licenses
— DUI Hardship License Tips —

DUI Hardship License TipsOur office can assist you in determining your eligibility for a hardship license and counsel you on effective methods for making application to the DHSMV for the reinstatement of your driving privileges. Click here for further information on Getting Your Hardship License.

A great deal of confusion exists with respect to the lawful use of a DUI hardship license. Given the somewhat vague nature of the statute governing permissible use, it is no wonder that we see a wide variety of interpretations by law enforcement. Even driver’s license office personnel will often offer conflicting opinions as to the extent of the permitted use.

Avoiding Trouble

Our office represents a large number of clients who come to us charged with “driving while license suspended” or “violation of their drivers license restriction.” (Improper use of a business purpose or employment only license.) We have come to learn that many law offices fail to properly inform their DUI clients of the complexities in this area and how to avoid further trouble. These subsequent arrests might have been avoided if the drivers better understood the limitations associated with their hardship license and had offered law enforcement a more complete explanation at the time of their motor vehicle stop. The following information was prepared by our office in an effort to help you avoid pitfalls often encountered in this misunderstood area of the law.

Where Can I Drive on a Hardship License?

— A BPO License Allows Driving to Maintain Livelihood —

  • A “C” restriction license authorizes driving for “business purposes only” (BPO). The Florida Legislature defines BPO in Florida Statute 322.271 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.
  • A “D” restriction license is much narrower in scope. This license only permits driving limited to “employment purposes only.” Under this license restriction, the Florida Legislature authorizes “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.”

The “C” restriction license or “D” restriction license “shall not be used for pleasure, recreational, or nonessential driving.”

Note: Most first time DUI offenders secure a “C” restriction license, while multiple offenders who qualify under the Special Supervision Program, are typically granted a “D” restriction. However, there are exceptions to these rules and it is important that you closely examine the hardship license issued to you to fully appreciate the limitations that apply.

Debunking the Myth that the License is Limited to Specific Times of the Day

There are no limitations as to the time of day a hardship license may be lawfully used. Rather, the hardship license is limited solely to approved purposes. However, experience has shown us that police officers will more closely scrutinize your reason for driving if you are stopped at late hours of the night.

The Police have Broad Discretion to Determine if Your Stated Purpose for Driving is Lawful

If you are subject to a traffic stop while driving on a hardship license, the individual facts and circumstances associated with your operation of a motor vehicle will be closely examined by the police. Law enforcement officers aggressively enforce violations of restricted licenses. These charges are criminal in nature and subject you to a potential arrest. Therefore, great care must be taken on your part to limit your driving to only those permitted purposes described above.

The Importance of “Fitting-the-Bill” to Avoid Confusion

Your appearance and the manner in which you are dressed should comply with your stated reason for driving. For example, law enforcement will be inclined to disbelieve your account that you are headed to work when you are dressed in a bathing suit. Likewise, a police officer might expect a driver to have in his possession the “tools of his trade.” (i.e. businessman accompanied by his briefcase or construction worker with his tools.)

The Penalties Associated with Being Convicted of Violating a Hardship License Restriction
The Penalties Associated with Being Convicted of Violating a Hardship License Restriction

It is a criminal offense to drive for an improper purpose while subject to a driver’s license restriction. You are subject to immediate arrest and the possible impoundment of your vehicle. A conviction in court for this offense includes penalties that may entail fines, probation or incarceration within the Pinellas County Jail. Consequences likewise typically include the revocation of your hardship license. In other words, if the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Division of Drivers Licenses, determines that you have abused your hardship privilege by getting caught driving for an improper or unauthorized reason, it will revoke your hardship license privilege.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense
The Best Offense is a Good Defense

Obviously, the best way to avoid being arrested for “Violation of a Restricted License” is to avoid being stopped in your motor vehicle. For instance, driving a car with an expired tag is an open invitation to trouble. Likewise, having the odor of alcohol on your breath coupled with a restricted license designation, begs a new DUI arrest. Accordingly, the best defense while driving on a restricted license status is to avoid the commission of any traffic infractions. If you are pulled over, be prepared to offer an explanation for driving that is consistent with “maintaining livelihood” and supports your location and direction of travel.

Secure a New “Duplicate License” When Your Driver’s License Restriction Expires

When your restriction term expires, it can be helpful to get a duplicate license. A duplicate license will no longer display the driver’s license restriction notation. Your failure to do so might otherwise cause a police officer to devote extra attention at your next motor vehicle stop and possibly exercise less discretion in his decision to issue a traffic citation. When you are ready to obtain your duplicate license, be sure that you have all the necessary identification documents.

If You Get Charged with Violation of Driver’s License Restriction… Our Office Can Help

Remember, if you are ever stopped by a police officer while operating with a hardship license, be prepared to accurately and clearly state your intended destination and lawful purpose for driving. If you do get charged with “violation of drivers license restriction,” our office can help. We may be able to prove that your driving was within the permitted use of your restriction. Even in the worst circumstances, we may be able to secure a withholding of adjudication that will otherwise save your hardship license from being revoked for its improper use. You should always feel free to call us should you have any additional questions.

Call our office for a free consultation at (727) 578-0303


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The Koger Building
Corner of 9th Street North & Gandy Blvd.
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Consultations also available at:
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