How to Get a Hardship License After a DUI/DWI Conviction in California

September 13, 2023 by Seppi Esfandi in California  Criminal Defense  
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How to Get a Hardship License After a DUI/DWI Conviction in California

Your driver’s license will likely be taken away if you are found guilty of a DUI in California. This will make it harder for you to travel because you won’t be allowed to drive a car legally anymore. Because of these limitations, many people can no longer attend school or work.

This is the reason why certain drivers in California are given hardship licenses. These licenses, also known as restricted licenses, are provided to specific people who meet specific requirements.

Drivers with restricted licenses can drive legally for specific purposes. The places they can go are usually restricted to essential things like attending a DUI education program, work, or school. Typically, visits to healthcare centers are permitted as well.

Who Qualifies?

To qualify for a hardship license, an individual must satisfy the following conditions:

  • According to California Vehicle Code Section 13353.7, they have had no prior DUI convictions or charges reduced to reckless driving within the past decade, making this their first offense.
  • Their driving ability has not been taken away due to any other illegitimate action.
  • They complied with the request by undergoing either a blood or breath test.
  • They are over 21 years old.
  • They seek permission to drive for personal use, not for operating commercial vehicles.

In some cases, even if all the mentioned facts are correct, the person may still not qualify for a hardship license. For instance, if the person committed additional crimes while already facing charges for their first DUI offense, including causing a severe injury.

When To Apply For A Hardship License In California

In California, drivers who have been arrested and convicted have multiple opportunities to apply for a hardship license between the time of their arrest and their sentencing. That’s why there are different answers to the question: When is the right time to apply for a hardship license? Usually, the worrying period starts when someone is arrested for DUI, and the police officer takes away their driver’s license. The officer gives the person a document called an Order of Suspension and Temporary License.

The person can drive for 30 days starting from the day the order was given, thanks to the temporary license. The person’s driving license will be suspended for four months by the California DMV after 30 days. If the person asks for a DMV hearing within ten days of arrest, they will not have their driver’s license taken away during the suspension period.

What You Need To Get A Hardship License

It’s necessary to understand that your chances of getting a hardship license, which allows limited driving privileges, depend on factors such as the specific DUI charge you’re facing, your driving history, and the kind of license you had before your DUI suspension.

The requirements and exclusions for getting a hardship license in your specific situation will be explained on websites like those of your attorney, state and local government, and your local DMV.

Although you usually apply for a hardship license at your DMV, your state might ask you to go to court to submit your application, all necessary documents, and evidence of an ignition interlock device.

In addition to that, you must have an SR-22 filed with your state before your hardship license can be approved. What is SR-22? An SR-22 is a document that proves you have car insurance that meets your state’s standards.

You will receive a message from the DMV or be informed by the judge at your DUI hearing that you require an SR-22 form, sometimes both. Your insurance company can give you this form if you ask for it. However, remember that not all insurance companies do not provide SR-22s. So, if you are looking for insurance, asking about this in advance is a good idea to save yourself time and frustration.

Hardship License for Minors

A Critical Need Restriction Driver’s License is a special kind of hardship license that can be obtained by those who are under 21 and have committed their first offense, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The driver must have undergone a preliminary alcohol screening or a chemical test having a 0.01 percent blood alcohol concentration/ BAC or higher to qualify for a license with a critical need restriction. A particular urgent situation, such as the need to get to work without anyone else being able to provide transportation, should also be made clear by the driver.

Following Vehicle Code Sections 12513 and 13353.8, they must also show that other modes of transportation are insufficient, such as the lack of a bus route that serves the particular location.

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Lara S.
December 3, 2019
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How to Win Your Case

We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:

  1. Don’t ever talk to the police
  2. Do not discuss your case with anyone
  3. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
  4. Tell police you need to contact your attorney
  5. Never consent to any search by the police
  6. If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
  7. Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
  8. Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
  9. Information on your cell phone is evidence
  10. Early Intervention is the key

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