In the state of Arkansas, some drivers can apply for a hardship license, which grants them limited driving privileges after a driver's license revocation. An individual with a suspended license may need a hardship license to avoid economic difficulties that not being able to drive would impose upon them. Teen drivers between the ages of 14 and 16 are also eligible for a hardship license – also known as an age waiver – to get to and from work or school if they meet specific requirements.
What Is a Hardship License?
A hardship license is a restricted license that allows individuals to drive on a limited basis to meet necessary obligations. To get one, a driver must prove that they need to drive to:
- Maintain their job.
- Get themselves or their kids to school.
- Attend substance abuse treatment.
- Get emergency medical care.
- Complete another essential task.
A hardship license will not restore all the driving privileges that come with a standard license. In each state, there are conditions that dictate where and when a hardship license holder can drive. For example, a hardship license may permit a driver to drive only during daylight hours. Some states even limit drivers to specific routes when going to and from permitted locations.
Who Can Apply for a Hardship License in Arkansas?
An individual with a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction in Arkansas can receive restricted driving privileges for financial hardship reasons, but the court may require a minimum license suspension period before it allows them to drive. A driver with a suspended license who is eligible for an ignition interlock device (IID) may petition the court for a hardship license. A person who has four DUI offenses cannot receive a hardship license, and those who have two or three offenses must wait a year before applying for one. The court counts convictions within the last five years of the driver's current offense.
If an employer requires an employee to drive under the course and scope of their employment, and the employer owns the vehicle, the employee may operate that vehicle during working hours without an ignition interlock device, as long as it is part of their job. However, they must notify the employer of their driving privilege restriction and have proof of that notification.
Age Waiver Eligibility Requirements for Minors
Hardship licenses, or age waivers, are for minor drivers in Arkansas between 14 and 16 years of age. If a person attends school regularly and has at least a C grade average, they may apply. If they do not have that grade average, they can petition the court for an age waiver. The Office of Driver Services will hold a hearing after an individual files their application.
If someone other than a parent has legal custody of a minor, they must show copies of these legal documents with dates and signatures from the last 30 days:
- Valid learner's license with correct address.
- At least six months of driving experience, beginning on the issuance date of their learner's license.
- Applicant cannot have any traffic violations, at-fault accidents or suspensions on their record, in state or out of state.
Requesting an Age Waiver Hearing
Hearings for age waivers are held in person at the applicant's local Driver Control office. The applicant's parent or guardian must also be at the hearing, which they can request after gathering all the necessary documents and completing the application.
The applicant's parent or legal guardian must have an Arkansas driver's license or ID card. The person who signs the age waiver application on behalf of the minor must be the same person who signs for financial responsibility of the applicant. The Driver Control office will deny any incomplete applications.
Age Waiver Ineligibility
A traffic conviction, age waiver violation or an at-fault accident revokes the age waiver, and the state will not consider any other waiver for the minor driver. The Driver Control office may also review an age waiver's issuance to determine its necessity. An applicant will not receive an age waiver for:
- Voluntary or religious services or extracurricular school activities.
- Transporting a minor's siblings to destinations other than the educational institution the minor attends.
- Out-of-state travel.
- Employment requiring delivery or lawn care services, babysitting, driving to multiple locations, or the driving of a business vehicle.
Age waivers only allow drivers to operate a vehicle between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Minor drivers cannot drive more than 30 miles on an age waiver when driving one way.
Learner's Permits and Intermediate Licenses
An Arkansas learner's license is for drivers up to 15 years old and authorizes them to operate a motor vehicle accompanied by a licensed driver 21 or older. To be eligible for a learner's license, an applicant must pass written and physical tests and a vision exam. They must have a clean driving record free of serious accidents or driving convictions over the previous six months.
An intermediate license is for drivers from 16 to 17 years old; at 18, they can apply for an unrestricted license as long as they have a clean driving record for a year. All passengers in a minor's vehicle must wear seat belts at all times, and drivers cannot use any wireless devices except in the event of an emergency.
Intermediate license applicants must acknowledge in writing that they understand these restrictions. They cannot drive with more than one unrelated passenger who is a minor unless a licensed driver 21 or older is also in the vehicle. They cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. unless they are with a person at least 21 years old, driving to or from school, church, work or due to an emergency.
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.