Conditional Hardship License

What is a conditional hardship license?

A conditional hardship license allows a Rhode Island driver to operate a motor vehicle for the limited purpose of getting to and from work during the period in which their license is suspended because of a DUI or Refusal charge.

What are the eligibility requirements for a conditional hardship license?

  • A conditional hardship license is only available to those motorists charged with:
    o DUI 1st offense
    o DUI 2nd offense
    o Refusal 1st Offense
  • A motorist is only eligible for a hardship license after they install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle(s).
  • A judge/magistrate must issue an order, after a hearing, granting the motorist a conditional hardship license.

What happens during the hearing for a hardship license?

Before the hearing, you must provide the judge/magistrate with documentation of your employment and an installation certificate for an ignition interlock device.

During the hardship license hearing, you must testify regarding your employment. This includes:

  • The name of your employer
  • The address of your employer
  • Your employment history
  • Your duties/responsibilities at work
  • Your work schedule, including the days and times
  • The times you commute to and from work
  • How far you travel to work
  • Other sources of income
  • Financial hardship

After you testify, the Attorney General will have an opportunity to ask you questions. The Attorney General also has the opportunity to object to the issuance of hardship license.

Finally, the magistrate/judge will make their decision.  Unfortunately, a conditional hardship license in Rhode Island is discretionary. This means that a judge/ magistrate may grant a driver a conditional hardship license after the hearing, but are not required to do so. If the magistrate/judge grants a conditional hardship license, they will set the terms of the license.

Because a conditional hardship license is discretionary, it is important to contact a skilled Rhode Island DUI lawyer, who can represent you at this hearing and help argue your case for a hardship license.

What are the restrictions on a hardship license?

  • The conditional hardship license is valid only during the period of license suspension.
  • The conditional hardship license will be valid for only twelve (12) hours per day to get to and from one’s place of employment.

What do I have to do if my request for a hardship license 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 Operator Control with 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 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.

What should I do after the hardship period has ended?

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 all community service and provide Operator Control with documentation on the non-profit organization’s letterhead
  • Complete DUI school and/or alcohol counseling and provide documentation of completion to Operator Control
  • 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, that 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.