Florida Hardship License Rules & Regulations

By Beverly Bird - Updated July 16, 2018
Woman looks away after being pulled over, horizontal

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Having your driver’s license taken away can throw you and your family into a tailspin if you don’t have another way to get to work and earn a living. Like many states, Florida offers hardship licenses so you can drive for necessary purposes while your license is suspended. If you were convicted of a DUI, however, you must ask for an early reinstatement for hardship, which is different from asking for the hardship license that applies to other offenses.

The DUI Temporary Permit

When a Florida police officer issues you a citation for driving under the influence, the citation serves as a temporary license that’s good for 10 days. You can ask for a formal review hearing during this time, and request a temporary driving permit at the hearing if this is your first DUI. The permit allows you to drive for business purposes, which includes personal business such as grocery shopping or seeking medical care. The permit is good for 45 days.

Unfortunately, the license revocation period for a DUI is anywhere from a minimum of six months for a simple first offense to as long as 10 years for a third offense. You’ll have to serve at least some of this time before you can ask for early license reinstatement for hardship.

Hardship License Restrictions

How much of your license revocation you must serve depends on the nature of your DUI offense. The clock begins ticking the day your temporary permit expires.

  • If this is your first DUI offense, you must serve at least 30 days of your revocation period.
  • If it’s your first offense but you refused the breathalyzer, you must serve 90 days before you can apply for a hardship reinstatement.
  • If it’s your second DUI in more than five years, you’re not eligible for early hardship reinstatement. The maximum revocation for a second offense is one year.
  • If it’s your second DUI in less than five years, you can apply for hardship reinstatement after one year. This may seem unfair considering that you’re ineligible for reinstatement if it’s been more than five years, but it still works out to the same period of time you can’t drive –one year in either case.
  • A third DUI offense in more than 10 years makes you ineligible for reinstatement. Your revocation period can be as long as five years if two of the offenses fell within five years. Otherwise, it’s a maximum of one year.
  • You’re eligible to apply for a Florida hardship reinstatement after two years if this is your third DUI within 10 years.
  • If it’s your fourth DUI, you must serve five years of your revocation.

After you’ve served the required time, you can apply for early hardship reinstatement at any of Florida’s Administrative Reviews Offices.

Getting a Hardship License for a Florida DUI

Florida law requires that you attend DUI School for early reinstatement, and the judge might order you to get treatment as well. You must have a recommendation for early reinstatement from the Special Supervision Services Program, and if your reinstatement is approved, you must remain in the program until the initial period of your license revocation has expired. You must take a driving exam, and there are associated reinstatement fees. You’ll need a copy of your driving record when you apply.

Other Qualifications for a Hardship License

Your license can be revoked in Florida for a number of other reasons, including accumulating too many points against your license, failing to respond to a summons for a moving violation, failure to pay child support or not meeting Florida’s vision requirements. In these cases, you must go to the local DMV and turn in your license. In some cases, you can get your license reinstated as soon as you take care of the problem –for example, when you’ve had your vision corrected or you’ve paid past due child support. Otherwise, the requirements for a hardship license are much the same as for a DUI conviction, but you must attend an Advanced Driver Improvement Course instead of DUI school.

About the Author

Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.

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