How to Get a Restricted License

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years

UPDATED: Jun 21, 2021

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What You Should Know

  • Depending on the severity of the offense, a driver with a restricted license may continue to drive or have their licenses revoked permanently
  • To get a restricted license to drive to work, you will have to prove that other means of transportation like commuting are unavailable to you
  • If you have a DUI or DWI violation, then it is most likely that you are required to file an SR22 insurance

If you commit a serious traffic violation, your state’s department of motor vehicles may decide to suspend or revoke your driver’s license. In some cases, you may be able to obtain a restricted license, which will allow you to drive under a strict set of conditions. Getting a restricted driver’s license is a much better option than continuing to drive while your license is suspended, which is illegal and has substantial consequences.  

If your license has been suspended but you still need to drive, follow this guide to learn more about how to get a restricted license.  

Who Needs a Restricted License? 

Drivers can have their driving privileges put on pause or permanently revoked if they commit some kind of significant offense, such as: 

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol such as a DUI conviction or DUI offense
  • Reckless driving 
  • Causing an accident without having the legal minimum car insurance coverage  
  • Failing to pay child support 
  • Hit-and-run 
  • Vehicular homicide 
  • Committing multiple traffic violations (like speeding) in a short period of time

Depending on the severity of the offense and the severity of the restricted driving privilege, some drivers with suspended licenses may be able to continue driving by applying for a restricted license. Each state’s department of motor vehicles has its own rules for awarding restricted licenses, but in general, it’s much harder to get a restricted license after an extremely serious offense like vehicular homicide or hit-and-run.  

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How to Get a Restricted License to Drive to Work 

Your state’s department of motor vehicles won’t automatically issue a restricted license to you. Instead, you’ll have to prove that you have a significant need to drive in order to be eligible. One of the most commonly cited reasons for requesting a restricted license is to maintain employment. In other words, if you can prove that you need your car to be able to commute to work, the state may grant you a restricted license. Other common reasons cited are: 

  • To get to school 
  • To drop off children at school 
  • To obtain medical care  
  • To attend out-patient alcohol or drug treatment centers   

In all of these cases, you’ll have to prove that public transportation or other means of commuting are not available to you. 

Depending on the specific infraction that you committed, you may also have to serve a “hard suspension” before you can apply for a restricted license. This means that you won’t be able to drive at all for a certain period of time (often around 30 days).1 

After your hard suspension period is over, you can begin the application process for your restricted license. In addition to the offense that caused your license to be suspended, your previous driving record will be considered in the final decision. It’s important to note that restricted licenses are traditionally not given to commercial drivers. In some states, the department of motor vehicles may refer to the restricted license by another name, such as: 

  • Hardship license 
  • Limited driving privilege  

How is a Restricted License Different? 

Drivers with restricted licenses are usually only permitted to drive for the reasons they cited as necessary. For example, if you apply for a restricted license because you need to maintain employment, your restricted license will probably forbid you from driving outside of your commute to and from work.  

Overall, unlike a standard driver’s license, a restricted license dictates when and where you can drive. Some restricted licenses may even specify what exact routes you must stay on while you drive. Additionally, restricted licenses will often mandate that you drive only during specified windows of time, or only during daylight hours. 

Other Common Stipulations of a Restricted License

If you need a restricted license as the result of being convicted of a DUI or DWI, the conditions of your restricted license may require you to install an ignition interlock device in your car. This is a small breathalyzer that requires the driver to test their blood alcohol content before they can start the ignition. 

It’s likely that you will need to file the SR22 form with your auto insurance company. This process is also known as getting “SR22 insurance,” although it is not actually a kind of insurance policy. So, what is an SR22, and how long does SR22 last? The SR22 form is an official document between yourself, your insurer, and the department of motor vehicles that states you agree to maintain the minimum amount of coverage for a set number of years. 

How to Find an Insurance Company as a High-Risk Driver 

If you receive a suspended license or are required to file the SR22 form, you will be considered a high-risk driver within the auto insurance industry. Lots of insurers work with high-risk drivers, but finding the best policy for you traditionally takes a lot of time and energy. Many drivers wonder, how much does SR22 insurance cost a month or even how to get SR22 removed

Luckily, you can get answers to those questions and you don’t have to go the traditional route when it comes to auto insurance. 

Instead, save time and money by using our free and easy online quote comparison tool. Simply enter your zip code in the search bar, tell us your basic driving information, and we’ll provide you a list of the best quotes in your area from top-tier insurance brands. 

With all of the options right at your fingertips, you can discover the perfect policy for you and start saving today. 

References:

  1. Nolo. What Is a “Restricted” or “Hardship” License? https://dui.drivinglaws.org/resources/restricted-hardship-license.htm
  2. Nolo. Obtaining a “Hardship” Permit to Drive While on a Suspended License. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/obtaining-a-hardship-permit-to-drive-while-on-a-suspended-license.html  
  3. iDriveSafely. How to Handle a Suspended License in New York. https://www.idrivesafely.com/dmv/new-york/drivers-license/suspended-drivers-license/  
  4. LifeSafer. What is an Ignition Interlock? https://www.lifesafer.com/what-is-an-interlock/ 

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