Getting a Hardship License After a DUI

If you are convicted of a first-time DUI, penalties include jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record. Additionally, a conviction can result in a lengthy period of driver’s license suspension.

When you lose your driving privileges, it can be difficult to conduct your daily activities, such as commuting to work, picking up your children from school, making important appointments, or even running necessary errands. You could lose your job or fail your classes due to frequent tardiness or absences without a valid driver’s license.

However, you may be eligible to obtain a hardship license—also known as a non-commercial restricted license—which enables you to only drive to and from work, school, household duties, and medical appointments. In general, those who have already served a driver’s license suspension upon getting arrested for a DUI or refused to take a post-arrest chemical test.

The following are the steps to obtain a restricted driver’s license in California:

  1. Wait until your “hard suspension” period ends – Before you can apply for a hardship license, you must wait 40 days, which is known as a “hard suspension” by the DMV. You are prohibited from driving at all throughout this period. Yet, you can shorten this period if you agree to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
  2. Take DUI traffic school classes – Enrolling in DUI school is a common part of any drunk driving sentence. These series of classes will teach you how to become a safer driver. Keep in mind, you don’t have to wait until you complete the course to apply for a hardship. Enrolling alone will suffice.
  3. Enroll in other programs required by the court – Whether its’ Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) or even drug rehab, the court may require you enroll in an addiction treatment program. Again, you just need to provide proof of enrollment to apply for a hardship license.
  4. Obtain proper auto insurance – Before you can drive, you must show “proof of financial responsibility,” which is another way of saying proof of car insurance. Unfortunately, a DUI conviction will result in increased premiums, which means your insurance will be costlier compared to the average motorist. Contact your insurer to request form SR-22 for the DMV.
  5. Apply for a hardship license – When you complete all steps mentioned above, you can apply for a restricted driver’s license by bringing your proof of enrollment, the SR-22, and other required court documents associated with your sentence to the DMV.

Unfortunately, obtaining a hardship license isn’t an option for all DUI offenders. To avoid getting initially convicted in Santa Barbara, contact our experienced legal team at Appel & Morse if you have been charged with drunk driving and schedule a free criminal consultation today.