Hardship License Law and Legal Definition

Hardship licenses are restricted licenses issued administratively in accordance with statutes or by order of the court to an applicant whose driving privileges are under suspension. This license allows the applicant to drive during the period of suspension to earn a livelihood or to maintain the necessities of life. It is also issued to adolescents between 14 and 16 years of age who have proven that there is a necessity for them to drive. Usually there is a family need that requires them to take on the responsibly of getting to school or work by themselves.

Each state defines hardship in its own way and sets restrictions for the same. Hardship license is usually not available if license is suspended for one of the following reasons: Physical, mental or emotional instability; convicted of driving while suspended; convicted of involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide as a result of an automobile accident etc. Hardship license requirements vary depending on the reason for the suspension. There are penalties for violating a hardship restriction.

The following is an example of a State Statute ( New York) on hardship Licenses:

In New York when the court suspends a defendant's driving privileges under the prompt suspension law, the court may grant a Hardship Driver's License if it determines that the suspension will result in extreme hardship to the defendant. The burden of proving extreme hardship is on the defendant and must be demonstrated at a hardship hearing. [NY CLS Veh & Tr § 1193] The relevant law reads as follows:

NY CLS Veh & Tr § 1193

“If the court finds that the suspension imposed pursuant to this subparagraph will result in extreme hardship, the court must issue such suspension, but may grant a hardship privilege, which shall be issued on a form prescribed by the commissioner. For the purposes of this clause, "extreme hardship" shall mean the inability to obtain alternative means of travel to or from the licensee's employment, or to or from necessary medical treatment for the licensee or a member of the licensee's household, or if the licensee is a matriculating student enrolled in an accredited school, college or university travel to or from such licensee's school, college or university if such travel is necessary for the completion of the educational degree or certificate. The burden of proving extreme hardship shall be on the licensee who may present material and relevant evidence. A finding of extreme hardship may not be based solely upon the testimony of the licensee. In no event shall arraignment be adjourned or otherwise delayed more than three business days solely for the purpose of allowing the licensee to present evidence of extreme hardship. The court shall set forth upon the record, or otherwise set forth in writing, the factual basis for such finding. The hardship privilege shall permit the operation of a vehicle only for travel to or from the licensee's employment, or to or from necessary medical treatment for the licensee or a member of the licensee's household, or if the licensee is a matriculating student enrolled in an accredited school, college or university travel to or from such licensee's school, college or university if such travel is necessary for the completion of the educational degree or certificate. A hardship privilege shall not be valid for the operation of a commercial motor vehicle.”