What is a Hardship License?
If your license is suspended in Louisiana, you might still be able to drive for special reasonsBy Judy Malmon, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on June 29, 2023
Use these links to jump to different sections:
- Driver’s License Suspension for a Louisiana DWI
- Eligibility for a Hardship Driver’s License
- The Process of Obtaining a Hardship License
- Requirements for Driving an Employer-Owned Vehicle
- Commercial Drivers and Out-of-State Drivers
- Penalties for Violating a Hardship License
- Contact a Louisiana Criminal Defense Attorney
There are several reasons why you may have your driver’s license suspended in the state of Louisiana.
One of the most common reasons is a DWI (driving while intoxicated) violation.
Driver’s License Suspension for a Louisiana DWI
If you’re over 21 years of age and arrested for a DWI:
- Louisiana will suspend your license and driving privileges for 90 days
- For a second offense within five years, your license will be suspended for one year.
Refusing to submit to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test will also result in a license suspension of 180 days for the first offense.
Eligibility for a Hardship Driver’s License
After 30 days of suspension for a first offense, you may be eligible for a hardship license and limited driving privileges.
To obtain it, you must show that you need to drive on a restricted license in order to “maintain the necessities of life.” Examples include:
- Driving to and from work;
- Medical appointments;
- School; or
- Going to the grocery store.
Drivers of motor vehicles 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.
The Process of Obtaining a Hardship License
Getting a hardship license includes petitioning the district court in the parish where you reside. Any change in a court order or your driving needs during the hardship period requires that you re-petition for approval.
When you receive a court order approving a hardship license, you must keep it with you, attached to your driver’s license, anytime you drive.
You may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car, requiring you to blow into a machine measuring your blood alcohol content before the car will start. If this is a requirement, you must show proof of interlock installation on your vehicle before having the issuance of a hardship license approved.
You must also offer proof of insurance (SR-22 “high risk driver” coverage) on the car you’ll be driving.
Additional requirements may include:
- A recommendation letter from Support Services;
- Medical documentation; and
- Your court order.
Requirements for Driving an Employer-Owned Vehicle
If you’ll be driving an employer-owned vehicle under a hardship license, you must provide a statement from your employer stating that they’re aware you’ll be driving under a suspended license.
An employer-owned vehicle is not required to have an ignition interlock device (IID). An interlock device is not necessary for non-alcohol-related suspensions, such as:
- Failure to pay child support;
- Failing to stop for a school bus;
- Texting while driving;
- Littering violations; or
- Nonpayment of income taxes.
An interlock is mandated for refusing to submit to a blood test, DWI, vehicular negligent injury, or for a violation occurring while under an alcohol-related suspension.
Commercial Drivers and Out-of-State Drivers
A hardship license may only be approved for a Class D or E license, not for a commercial license.
Commercial drivers may petition for a downgrade to Class D or E if they are otherwise eligible for a hardship license, and may be approved to drive a non-commercial vehicle.
If a driver holds a suspended license from another state but relocates to Louisiana, they would not be eligible for a hardship license.
Penalties for Violating a Hardship License
Violation of hardship restrictions can result in additional penalties, depending on the reason for issuing the hardship license.
In most cases, a violation will result in an extension of the license suspension for an additional year. When your suspension has run, if you have not incurred any additional violations or penalties, you’ll receive a notice that you’ve completed your suspension period, and you may have reinstatement of your license.
To do so, you must apply for a new license, complete all court-ordered requirements (such as completion of drug and alcohol treatment or drivers education), provide proof of insurance, and pay all reissue fees or fines to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Contact a Louisiana Criminal Defense Attorney
If your license has been suspended due to drunk driving or refusing a breath test, you have a very limited amount of time to contest the suspension, and you may be eligible for a hardship license.
Using the Super Lawyers, directory, consider contacting a law firm and a DUI/DWI attorney as soon as possible to get help with your case.
If you’d like more general information about this area of the law, see our DUI/DWI law overview.
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