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A conditional hardship license can allow a Rhode Island driver to operate a motor vehicle during the period in which their license is suspended due to a DUI or breath/chemical test refusal charge.

If you are facing DUI charges and would like to find out if you are eligible for a conditional hardship license, we encourage you to reach out to our firm for counsel. Our skilled Rhode Island DUI attorneys can review your case and help you take the next best step forward.

Get informed on your rights—call our firm today at (401) 245-5100.

Eligibility Requirements for Hardship Licenses

A conditional hardship license is only available to those motorists charged with a first/second DUI offense or a first offense refusal. A motorist must also install an ignition interlock device to be eligible for a hardship license. However, eligibility alone does not result in a conditional hardship license. To be granted this license, a judge or magistrate must issue an order after the motorist demonstrates a “need” for the license.

What Qualifies as a Need for a Hardship License?

A 2016 update to the hardship license law still requires first-time offenders to show a “need” for a hardship license, but this need has been expanded beyond employment purposes. Hardship licenses will also be granted to those who can prove they need a hardship license to drive to necessary medical appointments, therapy appointments, job training, school, or any other valid reason approved in advance by the judge.

In order to receive a hardship license, individuals will have to submit a sworn affidavit to the judge, detailing their need for a hardship license. Some judges may also require a hearing, during which the motorist must testify regarding their need.

Preliminary License Suspensions from Refusals

Motorists who are charged with a Chemical Test Refusal at the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal will typically receive a preliminary order of suspension, suspending their license during the pendency of their case. A 2016 amendment to the conditional hardship license law extends to drivers with preliminary license suspensions. These drivers can operate a motor vehicle with a hardship license, so long as an ignition interlock device is installed and they show a valid “need” to drive.

What to Do if Your Request Is Granted

Once your request for a hardship license is granted, you must go to the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and speak with a hearing officer within the Operator Control Department.

You must provide the following documentation:

  • A copy of the court order granting you a conditional hardship license
  • An installation certificate for an ignition interlock device
  • Proof of SR-22 insurance

Then, you must pay a $100 administrative fee to Operator Control. Finally, you must turn in your Rhode Island driver’s license to receive your new conditional hardship license. Your Rhode Island driver’s license will now have two restrictions: a “Y” designation for hardship license and a “U” designation for an ignition interlock device. The DMV will issue you a temporary/paper copy of your new license, with a hard copy to be mailed to your home. Keep in mind, the conditional hardship license will only be valid for 12 hours per day for you to get to and from work.

What Should I Do After the Hardship Period Ends?

You must go back to the DMV to change your license status. Once the hardship period has ended, you will be entitled to reinstate your license.

As a result, you will be required to:

  • Pay all fines associated with your DUI / Refusal to the appropriate court
  • Complete community service and provide documentation on the organization’s
    letterhead
  • Complete DUI school and/or alcohol counseling and provide documentation
  • Pay a reinstatement of license fee of $351.50 to Operator Control

Once Operator Control confirms that you are eligible for reinstatement, you will once again receive a new temporary license because the “Y” designation will be removed.

Please note, if you are required to maintain the ignition interlock device in your vehicle for a period of time longer than the hardship license period, you will still have the “U” designation on your license. At the end of the interlock period, you will have to see the DMV for removal of the “U” designation, so that you may return to an unrestricted license. At that time, the DMV will review your driving record and your compliance with the ignition interlock order to ensure that you demonstrated behavior that warrants the reinstatement of your license.

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