What is a hardship or "business purposes only" driver license?
Florida allows a person whose license has been suspended or revoked to apply for driving privileges on a restricted basis in some cases. If such a privilege is granted, the person's ability to drive legally is "limited to any driving necessary to maintain livelihood, including driving to and from work, necessary on-the-job driving, driving for educational purposes, and driving for church and for medical purposes." Fla. Stat. Section 322.271(1)(c)(1).
How do you get a hardship driver license?
You must apply for the privilege to drive on a restricted basis. You fill out the application, email it to the appropriate Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) office, and you will receive a phone call for a hearing. At the phone hearing, you will be asked why you need to drive, whether it is for work or for some other reason that causes you a serious hardship. You may be asked to provide letters of recommendation from "from respected business persons in the community, law enforcement officers, or judicial officers" to show you can be trusted to operate a motor vehicle. I have not heard of this being requested, but it can be. (Fla. Stat. Section 322.271(2)(a)). The hearing is informal.
Habitual Traffic Offender: 12-month waiting period
If your driver license is suspended because you are declared a Habitual Traffic Offender, you must wait twelve months from the suspension date before applying for a restricted driver license. Fla. Stat. Section 322.271(1)(b).
If your license was suspended because of a DUI arrest, you will have to enroll in a DUI program substance abuse education course (DUI school) before applying for the hardship license. There is a particular process for getting a hardship license for a DUI arrest. See my blog post on that here.
If you enrolled in DUI school and get your hardship license, you have 90 days to finish the DUI school education course. If you don't finish it, or you don't do the treatment recommended by the program, then your hardship license will be revoked.
You get one more chance to enroll and prove you are participating in the program, and your hardship will be given back. But if your hardship is revoked a second time for failure to complete DUI school and treatment, you have to show you've completed all of it before you will get your license back. Fla. Stat. Section 322.271(2)(a).
If your license is suspended after a DUI conviction, you have to actually complete the DUI school before you will be able to get a hardship driver license.
Second or subsequent DUI: required waiting period to apply for hardship license
If you have just been convicted for your second or subsequent DUI, you may be wondering whether you qualify to get a hardship license. Under Florida law, you do have a waiting period before you can apply for the hardship driver license. The waiting period depends on how long your license was suspended at the time of your DUI plea.
If your license was suspended for 5 years or less, you have to wait 12 months before applying for a hardship driver license. Fla. Stat. Section 322.271(2)(c).
If your license was suspended for 5 years or more, you have to wait 24 months before applying for a hardship driver license. Fla. Stat. Section 322.271(2)(c).
Also, you will have to install an ignition interlock on your car in order to get the hardship license. The length of time you have to have the device on your car depends on how many DUI convictions you have on your record. Fla. Stat. Section 322.2715.
Fleeing or eluding conviction
A conviction for fleeing or eluding comes with a mandatory one to five year driver license revocation. Fla. Stat. Section 316.935(5). While the suspension period doesn't start until you get out of jail or prison, there does not appear be any bar to applying for a hardship license right away.
Possession of drugs while driving a motor vehicle: not eligible
If you are convicted for felony drug possession while in control of a motor vehicle (driving or behind the wheel with keys), you are not eligible for a hardship driver license. You will have to wait until your suspension period ends to get a driver license. Fla. Stat. Section 322.27(6).