Florida appears to be one of the most forgiving states in the union for drivers. When you get your license suspended just about anywhere else, you have to wait a fixed period of time before you’re eligible to drive again. The only way around it is to get your driver's license reinstated in a hearing.
In Florida, however, you might be able to start driving again with full privileges after taking the 12-hour Florida Advanced Driver Improvement (ADI) course. What’s even better is you can start driving to certain restricted places before you finish the course with the help of a hardship license.
What is a Florida Hardship License?
A Florida hardship license is a special type of license that can be issued after a driver’s license is suspended or revoked. The hardship license allows for limited driving based on necessity. In other words, you’ll be able to get to the places you absolutely need to go, like work or school, but you can’t cruise around anywhere like you used to.
Florida Hardship License Requirements
You’ll only need a Florida hardship license if your driver's license was suspended or revoked. Fortunately, the process isn’t too difficult or time-consuming, especially if you use online education to meet the requirements.
Step 1 - Register for a 12-hour Florida ADI course and get your enrollment certificate.
Step 2 - Fill out an application for a hardship hearing.
Step 3 - Take both of these items to your local Administrative Reviews Office.
Step 4 - Pay the related fees.
Step 5 - Obtain your hardship license from your hearing officer if you’re eligible.
The hearing officer will process your application and determine if you’re eligible to receive a hardship license. There are a number of limitations and restrictions on who can receive a hardship license and when they can receive one.
Florida Hardship License Costs
Getting a hardship license isn’t free because you already have a regular driver's license that was suspended. You’ll have to pay the reinstatement fee before you can receive a hardship license. Currently, the Florida driver's license reinstatement fee is $45 for any type of suspension and $75 for revocations.
Before that, there are a few other fees that you’ll have to cover to get a hardship license. The ADI course is generally around $63. And you’ll have to pay the hardship hearing filing fee, which is $12.
Related administrative fees also have to be paid. These vary depending on the moving violation. For example, the administrative fee for a drug or alcohol offense is $130.
How Do You Take a Florida ADI Course?
The Florida ADI course is a 12-hour traffic school, and can only be taken with a provider authorized by the state of Florida. There are two course options:
You can take a classroom course, in which you attend a physical classroom on a set schedule.
You can take the course online, where you learn the information at home on your computer.
Most people opt for the more convenient option and sign up for an online ADI course. As long as you’re enrolled in a course you should be able to apply for a hardship license no matter whether it’s online or in-person.
Hardship License Driving Restrictions
There are actually two reasons hardship licenses exist: one is for “business purposes” and one is for “employment purposes.” Which one you can receive depends on your personal circumstances and is determined by the hearing officer.
The hardship license restricted for “business purposes” limits you to driving to and from work, necessary driving for your job, driving for educational purposes, driving to and from church, and driving for medical purposes.
The hardship license restricted for “employment purposes” restricts you to driving to and from work and necessary driving for your job only.
The reason your license was suspended or revoked matters. There are lots of reasons that you might receive a suspended license, such as:
Failure to pay child support
Failure to appear for a summons
Certain cases of DUI suspensions
And there are suspensions for acquiring too many points on your driving record. Here’s the schedule of points for violations and the length of the suspension:
12 points in 12 months: 30 day suspension
18 points in 18 months: 3 month suspension
24 points in 36 months: 12 month suspension
There are also restrictions on who can get a hardship license in general. Anyone who has a suspended license due to child support delinquency won’t qualify for a hardship license. Some violations also require a year or more before a person can apply for a hardship license.
If you’re unsure of whether or not you qualify for a Florida hardship license, be sure to contact your local Administrative Review Office.
*This article was updated on 1/27/21