Hardship License: How Do I Get My License Back?

One of the most important steps following a first time DUI arrest is to get your hardship license. After your arrest your license is automatically suspended, which can potentially leave you without the ability to drive for up to an entire year. This post will outline the basic steps you can follow in order to get your hardship license so that you can drive.

Please be aware that in order to get your hardship license you must waive your right to formally challenge your license suspension. This means that you are forfeiting your right to have an administrative hearing and challenge the suspension of your license. This does not mean that you are admitting to the crime of DUI, just that you are choosing not to fight the license suspension. However, if you waive the hearing your driving history can show your DUI suspension and can impact you for insurance purposes. Contact us if you have any questions about waiving your right to the administrative hearing.

License suspensions:

Following a first time DUI arrest your license can be suspended either for six months or one year:

Six months – if you perform the breathalyzer and your result is .08 or higher your license will be automatically suspended for six months.

One year – if you refuse the breathalyzer your license will be automatically suspended for one year.

Note: these time periods are for first-time DUI arrests only. If you have previously refused a breathalyzer a second refusal can be a criminal offense by itself.

The ten-day hardship license

Your DUI citation (given to you by the officer) is also a ten-day hardship license. This means you can drive for ten days starting from the date of your arrest, as long as you keep that citation with you. This gives you ten days to go and get your hardship license.

Important: If you do not get your hardship license during the ten days, you have to serve either 30 or 90 days of the license suspension (30 if you did the breathalyzer, 90 if you refused) before you are eligible for the hardship license. 

So don’t wait until eleven days after your arrest – make getting your hardship license a top priority.

Register for a DUI class

One of the conditions of getting your hardship license is registering for an approved DUI class. You can register for the DUI Counterattack Program online here. Be sure to print out proof of your registration for the class and take it with you when you go to get your hardship license. Level I DUI school costs $263.00 total.

If you fail to complete the DUI school within 90 days after you get your hardship license your license will be suspended until you complete the course.

Where do I go to get my hardship license?

The Tampa DMV Office that issues hardship license is located at 2814 E. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, FL 33610


How much is the hardship license?

Here are some of the fees you will be asked to pay:

  • Administrative fee of $130.00
  • DUI program fee of $15.00
  • Suspension fee of $45.00.

There may be other administrative fees assessed by the local DMV office as well. You will also have to take a test.


Now that you have your license, does this mean you can drive anywhere you want any time you want?

Not necessarily. Under Florida law, your hardship license limits you to “any driving necessary to maintain livelihood,” including:

  • to and from work
  • for any necessary on-the-job duties
  • for educational purposes
  • for getting food, groceries, and necessary household items
  • for church purposes, and
  • for medical purposes.

As you’re probably realizing by now, the phrase “necessary to maintain livelihood” is very broad. If you are pulled over the police officer will be the one deciding if you are driving in violation of your hardship license. In other words, don’t get pulled over driving to the beach on Saturday afternoon.

So what exactly do I all have to do?

In order to get your hardship license you will need to go to the DMV and:

  • Take the test
  • Show proof you registered for a DUI class
  • Pay the fees

Do you need help with your hardship license?

The time after any first time DUI arrest can be confusing. Hopefully this post will help guide you in the process of getting your hardship license.

If you have any questions about getting your options in getting a hardship license, please contact us immediately.