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Should I Get My Hardship License or Is It Better to Fight the Suspension at the DHSMV?



Understanding the Hardship License

When facing a DUI-related license suspension in Florida, one of the options available to you is applying for a hardship license. A hardship license allows individuals to drive for essential activities such as work, school, or medical appointments. This can be a crucial lifeline for those who depend on their ability to drive to maintain their livelihood and fulfill daily responsibilities. Understanding the eligibility criteria and the application process is vital for anyone considering this option.

Eligibility Criteria for a Hardship License

To qualify for a hardship license in Florida, you must meet specific conditions set by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). The primary requirements include:

  • Completion of DUI School: You must enroll in and complete a DUI school program. This is a mandatory step and serves as a demonstration of your commitment to rectifying the situation.
  • Proving a Legitimate Need: You need to show a genuine need for driving, such as for employment, education, or medical reasons. This involves providing detailed documentation that supports your claim.
  • Waiting Period: Depending on the specifics of your case, there may be a mandatory waiting period before you can apply for a hardship license. For instance, if you refused to take a breath test, you might face a longer waiting period.

The application process involves several steps, including submitting proof of enrollment in a DUI program and providing evidence of your need to drive for essential purposes. It’s important to gather all necessary documentation and follow the guidelines set by the DHSMV to increase your chances of approval.

What is a hardship license? A hardship license is a special type of restricted license that allows individuals with a suspended license to drive for essential purposes such as work, school, or medical appointments.

Most people choose to get their Business Purposes Only (BPO) hardship license because they need to drive for work. This type of license is specifically designed to help those who rely on their ability to drive to maintain their employment and meet other critical needs. The process of obtaining a BPO hardship license involves several steps, including:

  1. Enrollment in DUI School: As mentioned earlier, enrolling in and completing a DUI school is a prerequisite.
  2. Submitting an Application: You must submit a formal application to the DHSMV, accompanied by the required documentation that proves your need for a hardship license.
  3. Attending a Hearing: In some cases, you may need to attend a hearing where you present your case and provide evidence supporting your need for the license.
  4. Following Additional Requirements: Depending on your specific situation, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle or meet other conditions set by the DHSMV.

For more detailed information on the steps to obtain a BPO hardship license after a DUI arrest, you can refer to our comprehensive guide on getting a BPO hardship license.

Understanding the eligibility criteria and the application process is crucial for anyone considering a hardship license. By meeting the necessary requirements and following the proper procedures, you can increase your chances of obtaining this essential driving privilege.

Consequences of License Suspension

Should I Get My Hardship License or Is It Better to Fight the Suspension at the DHSMV?

Choosing to fight a license suspension at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) can have significant implications. It’s essential to understand the potential consequences before making a decision. Depending on the circumstances of your DUI arrest, the penalties can vary, and knowing these details can help you make an informed choice.

Challenges During Suspension

Facing a license suspension can be daunting, especially if you rely on driving for your daily activities. Here are some of the challenges you might encounter during a suspension period:

  • Commuting to Work: One of the most significant impacts of a license suspension is the inability to drive to work. This can jeopardize your employment, especially if public transportation is not a viable option.
  • Attending School: For students, not being able to drive can mean missing classes or important educational opportunities. This can affect academic performance and future prospects.
  • Medical Appointments: Regular medical appointments become a logistical nightmare without the ability to drive. This can be particularly challenging for those with chronic health conditions.
  • Family Responsibilities: If you have family responsibilities, such as picking up children from school or running errands, a license suspension can severely disrupt your routine.

Understanding these challenges can help you evaluate whether to fight the suspension or apply for a hardship license. For many, the need to drive for work is the primary reason they choose to get a Business Purposes Only (BPO) hardship license.

What happens if you fail a breath test? If you fail a breath test in Florida, you face a 30-day suspension without driving privileges.

On the other hand, if you refuse to take a breath test, the consequences are even more severe. Refusing the test results in a 90-day suspension without driving privileges. This extended period can have a more profound impact on your daily life and responsibilities.

Evaluating the Consequences

When considering whether to fight the suspension or apply for a hardship license, it’s crucial to weigh the potential consequences:

  1. Duration of Suspension: The length of the suspension period can vary based on whether you failed or refused the breath test. A longer suspension period means a more extended disruption to your life.
  2. Impact on Employment: If driving is essential for your job, a prolonged suspension can lead to job loss or financial instability. This is a critical factor to consider when making your decision.
  3. Legal Costs: Contesting the suspension at the DHSMV may involve legal fees and other costs. It’s essential to factor in these expenses when deciding your course of action.
  4. Likelihood of Success: The chances of successfully contesting the suspension can vary based on the specifics of your case. Consulting with an experienced DUI attorney can help you assess your chances of success.

For more information on the consequences of a DUI-related license suspension, you can refer to our detailed guide on immediate license suspension after a DUI.

Ultimately, the decision to fight the suspension or apply for a hardship license depends on your personal circumstances and priorities. Understanding the challenges and consequences can help you make a well-informed decision that best suits your needs.

Special Considerations for Specific Drivers

Not all drivers are suitable candidates for a hardship license. For instance, Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders and individuals who drive company vehicles may face additional restrictions. Understanding these special considerations can help you determine the best course of action.

Limitations of a Hardship License

A Business Purposes Only (BPO) license may not be sufficient for all drivers. CDL holders, in particular, are prohibited from driving commercial vehicles even with a hardship license. Evaluating these limitations is crucial for making an informed decision.

For CDL holders, the implications of a DUI are particularly severe. According to Florida DUI laws, a DUI conviction results in a one-year disqualification from operating commercial vehicles. This means that even if you secure a hardship license, you won’t be able to drive a commercial vehicle for work, which can drastically impact your livelihood.

What happens to CDL holders after a DUI? CDL holders face a one-year disqualification from driving commercial vehicles following a DUI conviction, regardless of obtaining a hardship license.

Additionally, if you drive a company vehicle, your employer may have policies that prevent you from operating their vehicles with a hardship license. This can create significant challenges, especially if your job requires you to drive regularly. It’s essential to discuss your situation with your employer to understand their policies and how they might affect your employment.

Another critical consideration is the nature of your driving needs. A BPO license allows driving for specific purposes, such as commuting to work, attending school, or medical appointments. However, it does not cover all driving activities. For instance, if your job requires you to drive between multiple locations or make deliveries, a BPO license may not be sufficient. Understanding the scope of your driving needs is vital in deciding whether to apply for a hardship license or fight the suspension.

For more detailed information on the limitations and eligibility criteria for a hardship license, you can refer to our comprehensive guide on obtaining a BPO hardship license.

Evaluating Your Options

When facing a DUI-related license suspension, it’s crucial to evaluate all your options carefully. Here are some steps to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Assess Your Driving Needs: Consider the nature of your job and daily activities. If driving is essential for your work, a hardship license may be necessary. However, if you primarily drive for non-essential purposes, fighting the suspension might be a better option.
  2. Consult Your Employer: If you drive a company vehicle, discuss your situation with your employer. Understand their policies and how a hardship license might affect your employment. This information is crucial in making an informed decision.
  3. Seek Legal Advice: Consulting with an experienced DUI attorney can provide valuable insights into your case. They can help you understand the potential outcomes of fighting the suspension versus applying for a hardship license.
  4. Consider the Long-Term Implications: A DUI conviction can have long-term consequences on your driving record and employment prospects. Weigh these factors carefully when deciding your course of action.

It’s also important to understand the process involved in fighting a suspension. For CDL holders, challenging the suspension at the DHSMV can be complex, and the chances of success may vary based on the specifics of your case. Our detailed guide on fighting an administrative suspension provides valuable insights into the process and what to expect.

Ultimately, the decision to apply for a hardship license or fight the suspension depends on your personal circumstances and priorities. Understanding the special considerations for specific drivers and evaluating your options can help you make a well-informed choice that best suits your needs.


Pros and Cons of Fighting the Suspension

Deciding to contest the suspension at the DHSMV has its advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, successfully fighting the suspension can fully restore your driving privileges. On the other hand, losing the case can result in a complete suspension, leaving you without any driving options.

Weighing the Risks and Benefits

Understanding the risks and benefits of fighting the suspension is essential. While the potential to regain full driving privileges is appealing, the risk of losing and facing a longer suspension period can be daunting. Weighing these factors can help you make a well-informed decision.

Should I Get My Hardship License or Is It Better to Fight the Suspension at the DHSMV?

When considering whether to fight the suspension, it’s important to recognize the potential outcomes. Successfully contesting the suspension at the DHSMV can result in the full restoration of your driving privileges. This means you can continue to drive without any restrictions, which is particularly beneficial if you rely on your vehicle for work or other essential activities.

However, the process of fighting the suspension is not without its challenges. It requires a thorough understanding of the legal procedures and the ability to present a compelling case. If you lose the case, you could face a complete suspension of your driving privileges, leaving you unable to drive for an extended period. This can be especially problematic if you need to drive to maintain your livelihood.

What happens if you lose the case? Losing the case at the DHSMV can result in a complete suspension of your driving privileges, leaving you unable to drive for an extended period.

Another factor to consider is the time and effort involved in fighting the suspension. The process can be time-consuming and may require multiple hearings and the presentation of evidence. You will need to gather documentation, possibly secure witnesses, and present a strong legal argument. This can be a daunting task, especially if you are not familiar with the legal system.

It’s also important to consider the financial implications. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney to represent you can be costly, but it may increase your chances of success. On the other hand, if you choose to represent yourself, you may save money but risk a less favorable outcome due to a lack of legal expertise.

For those who decide to fight the suspension, understanding the legal grounds for contesting the suspension is crucial. Some common defenses include challenging the legality of the traffic stop, questioning the accuracy of chemical tests, and scrutinizing the officer’s observations and procedures. For more details on these defenses, refer to our guide on how to beat your DUI case.

Ultimately, the decision to fight the suspension or apply for a hardship license depends on your individual circumstances. If you have a strong case and the resources to contest the suspension, it may be worth pursuing. However, if the risks outweigh the potential benefits, applying for a hardship license may be a more practical solution.

It’s also worth noting that some drivers may not be eligible for a hardship license, making fighting the suspension their only option. For instance, CDL holders face stricter regulations and may not qualify for a hardship license. In such cases, fighting the suspension becomes a necessity rather than a choice.

Another consideration is the long-term impact on your driving record and insurance rates. A successful challenge to the suspension can prevent a DUI conviction from appearing on your record, which can help maintain lower insurance premiums. Conversely, a failed challenge can result in higher insurance costs and a tarnished driving record.

What are the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction? A DUI conviction can lead to higher insurance premiums and a tarnished driving record, affecting your ability to secure affordable insurance in the future.

For those who are unsure about the best course of action, consulting with an experienced DUI attorney can provide valuable insights. An attorney can assess your case, explain the potential outcomes, and help you make an informed decision. They can also represent you at the DHSMV hearing, increasing your chances of a favorable outcome.

If you decide to apply for a hardship license, it’s important to understand the eligibility criteria and application process. You can find detailed information on the steps to obtain a hardship license in our guide on getting a BPO hardship license.

In summary, the decision to fight the suspension or apply for a hardship license is a personal one that depends on various factors. By weighing the risks and benefits, understanding the legal procedures, and seeking professional advice, you can make a well-informed decision that best suits your needs.


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What is a hardship license and how do I apply for one?

A hardship license allows limited driving privileges for essential activities such as work, school, or medical appointments. To apply for a hardship license in Florida, you must meet specific conditions, including completing a DUI school and demonstrating a legitimate need for driving. The application process involves:

  • Submitting proof of enrollment in a DUI program
  • Providing evidence of your need to drive for essential purposes
  • Attending a hearing at the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR)

What are the consequences of a DUI license suspension in Florida?

The consequences of a DUI license suspension in Florida can be severe. If you fail a breath test, you face a 30-day suspension without driving privileges. Refusing the test results in a 90-day suspension. Additional penalties may include:

  • First DUI offense: Revocation for 180 days to one year
  • Second DUI offense within 5 years: Minimum 5 years’ revocation
  • Third offense within 10 years: Same as first-time offense
  • Fourth conviction: Permanent license revocation

Can I drive after a DUI arrest in Florida?

After a DUI arrest in Florida, your license will be suspended immediately. However, you may be eligible to apply for a hardship license, which allows you to drive for essential purposes. If you do not apply for a hardship license, you will not be able to drive during the suspension period. For detailed steps on how to regain driving privileges, refer to our guide on license options after a DUI.

What are the risks and benefits of fighting a DUI suspension at the DHSMV?

Fighting a DUI suspension at the DHSMV has both risks and benefits. The primary benefit is the potential to fully restore your driving privileges if you win the case. However, the risks include:

  • Time-consuming legal process
  • Potential for a complete suspension if you lose
  • Financial costs of hiring an attorney

Weighing these factors can help you decide whether to fight the suspension or apply for a hardship license. For more information on fighting the suspension, visit our page on fighting administrative suspension.

Other Practice Areas We Serve

Explore additional practice areas we specialize in to find the legal support you need:

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Should I Get My Hardship License or Is It Better to Fight the Suspension at the DHSMV?

When facing a DUI charge in Florida, the decision to get a hardship license or fight the suspension at the DHSMV can be daunting. At Leppard Law, we understand the complexities of DUI cases and are here to guide you through every step of the process.

Our team of experienced DUI attorneys is dedicated to providing personalized legal support. We treat our clients like family, always putting their best interests first and fighting for the best possible outcome. With over 60 years of combined experience, we have the expertise to help you make the right decision for your situation.

If you’re unsure whether to apply for a hardship license or challenge your suspension, contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll assess your case and provide you with the best legal advice tailored to your needs.

But don’t just take our word for it. Our reputation speaks for itself:

  • Named as one of the “Top Criminal Defense Lawyers in Orlando, FL” 2023 (Expertise)
  • Highlighted among the “Top DUI Attorneys near Deltona, FL” for 2023 by Thumbtack
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  • SuperLawyers “Rising Star” (SuperLawyers) 2019 – 2020
  • Martindale Hubbell “Client Champion Platinum” 2018-24

At Leppard Law, we take immense pride in helping our clients navigate through some of life’s most challenging moments. Your trust and support have fueled our commitment to excellence, and we’re honored to be a part of our shared community.

While we hope you never face a criminal charge, we want you to know that if the need arises, we’re here for you. One call to our top-rated criminal defense attorneys can make all the difference. Schedule your consultation today, and let us provide the support and legal expertise you deserve.

Contact us at 407-476-4111 or visit our office to experience the Leppard Law difference. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

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Legally Reviewed by Joe Easton

Experienced Florida DUI Attorney

Legally reviewed by Joe Easton and the content team, this article reflects the firm’s 60 years of combined criminal defense expertise. Joe Easton, with his extensive experience and strategic prowess in DUI and criminal defense, offers more than just legal representation; he brings a commitment to turning legal challenges into triumphs. His approach, combining tenacity in the courtroom with personalized client care, ensures your DUI case is not just defended but championed with dedication and expertise.

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