How to Get a Hardship License in Florida

Most people don’t need an attorney to get a hardship license because they can represent themself. However, in more serious cases, you might consider having an attorney set up the hearing for you and walk you through the process.

Our office typically charges $1,500 for this service to set up the hearing and help you understand the eligibility requirements.

Fill out the evaluation form on this website with your contact information and a summary of your situation. Then we can call you back to discuss helping you set up the hardship hearing.

If your license is suspended or revoked in Florida, you might be eligible for a hardship license. This article discusses the requirement to get a hardship license and includes the script used by the hearing officer during the hearing.

If you need information about how to get a hardship license immediately after pleading DUI in court, then read our blog article that explains it here – how to get a hardship license after a DUI conviction.

The DHSMV updated their procedures and revised form HSMV 78306 (Rev. 3/2024) entitled “Application for Administrative Hearing.”

To expedite the process, you should submit the “Application for Administrative Hearing” with a $12.00 filing fee via check or money order made payable to the “Division of Motorist Services.”

You must enclose payment with the application. You are not permitted to send cash. Your application will not be considered complete until the filing fee is received. Your check should be payable to the “Division of Motorist Services.”

Along with the application and payment, you must submit proof of enrollment in or completion of Advanced Driver Improvement or DUI School to any driver license examining office, as applicable. Your restricted license will be canceled if the school is not completed within 90 days of enrollment.

Suppose you have been convicted of a first DUI in court. In that case, you can obtain a temporary 45-day driving permit from the Bureau of Administrative Review in Tampa or Clearwater if you also submit a signed “order of reinstatement” tracking the language of Section 322.282.

That statute provides:

“The department shall issue a temporary driver permit to a licensee who presents the court’s order of reinstatement, proof of completion of a department-approved driver training or substance abuse education course, and a written request for a hearing under s. 322.271.”

Florida DHSMV BAR’s Application for Administrative Hearing

The newly revised HSMV 78306 form provides:

I hereby request reinstatement of my driving privilege on a restricted basis as provided in Section 322.271, Florida Statutes.

By requesting the reinstatement of my driving privilege, I request the Bureau of Administrative Review (BAR) waive the hearing requirement pursuant to Section 322.271(2)(b), Florida Statutes, and determine my eligibility for a restricted license based on this Application and any written evidence/documents I am submitting.

I understand that BAR is not precluded from requiring a hearing for any suspension or revocation that it determines is warranted based on the severity of the offense.

If a hearing is required I will be contacted to complete said hearing.

I may be required to submit additional documents depending on the type of suspension or revocation on my driving record.

I understand that waiver of a hearing is not available for suspensions or revocations that involve death or serious bodily injury, multiple convictions for DUI pursuant to Section 322.27(5), Florida Statutes, or a second or subsequent suspension or revocation pursuant to the same provision of Chapter 322, Florida Statutes.

I understand that I must have enrolled in or completed the applicable driver training course or DUI substance abuse education course and evaluation period as required by Section 322.271(2)(b), Florida Statutes.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS: Please answer all the below questions.

  1. Why is your driver license suspended, cancelled, or revoked? __________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________
  2. Have you ever been issued a driver license in any other state? Yes No.
    1. If you checked “Yes” to the above question, in which state? _______________________________________________________
  3. Have you ever had your driver license suspended, cancelled, or revoked in another state or country? Yes No.
    1. If you checked “Yes” to the above question, in which state or country and for what reason? _____________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________
  4. Do you understand that if your driver license is currently suspended for an unlawful blood/breath alcohol level or refusal to submit to a breath/urine/blood test, and you are subsequently convicted of DUI in a criminal court, a restricted license received via this Application will no longer be valid? Yes No

The requirements for all hardship hearings include the following:

  • submitting a completed Application for Hardship License (HSMV 78306);
  • paying a $12.00 filing fee made payable to the Division of Motorist Services (Please enclose payment with this application. Please do not send cash. Your application will not be considered complete until the filing fee is received);
  • waiting for a CDLIS check to be completed; and
  • waiting for a CCIS check/inquiry to be completed by the Hearing Officer (with a traffic search for out-of-state residents).

The out of state license holder must do all of the following before obtaining a hardship license:

  • obtain a Florida license for hardship; and
  • be willing to surrender OOS DL (privilege).

If both of those conditions are met, the hearing officer will hold the hardship hearing and send the person to the DL office after proving the requirements for DL issuance. If the person cannot comply, then no hearing will be set.

Attorney for Hardship License in Florida

If you need to hire an attorney to help you contest a suspension or obtain a hardship license in Florida, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL.

We charge $400 an hour to review your driving record and explain the steps you need to take. That initial consultation usually takes one hour, and we need a copy of your Florida driving record.

During this initial hearing, we can also help you understand the problems you might have when seeking a hardship license.

Most people do NOT need an attorney to obtain a hardship license. Some people, however, want to hire an experienced attorney to help them through every step of the process. If you need help, call Sammis Law Firm to schedule a consultation.

Call (813) 250-0500 today.

Read the Script – Questions Asked During the Hardship Hearing?

Prior to COVID-19, the hearings could be scheduled in person. The hearing officer would greet you and ask you to have a seat. Since COVID-19, the hearings are only being conducted telephonically.

The hearing officer will inform you that the hearing will be recorded before turning on the tape recorder. After the recording begins, the hearing officer will read from the script:

I am ___[name of hearing officer], HSMV Field Hearing Officer. This hearing is regarding the suspension / revocation for ___[type of susp / rev]___, with effective date of _______, with an expiration date of ______.

Your hearing today is an informal proceeding of an administrative nature, therefore, judicial procedures do not apply. Florida Statute Section 322.271 gives the department the authority to conduct your hardship hearing. This hearing allows you and the department an opportunity to evaluate your driving record and to determine whether a hardship license should be granted.

Before we begin this hearing, I must place you under oath. Please raise your right hand. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

For the record, please state your full name, date of birth and your current address.

The hearing officer will then ask any witness, criminal defense attorney, or interpreter in the room to identify himself or herself for the record.

Then the hearing officer will ask a series of questions so that he or she can fill out his report.

  1. What is your date of birth?
  2. What is your race?
  3. What is your sex?
  4. Are you married?
  5. If so, is your spouse employed?
  6. Are you a U.S. citizen?
  7. Do you have a license in your possession? [If so the hearing officer will ask you to turn it over since you are not supposed to possess a driver’s license if your driving privileges have been revoked or suspended.]
  8. Are you employed?
  9. What days do you work and what hours do you work each day?
  10. What is your occupation?
  11. What is the name and address of your employer?

The hearing officer will then note whether he or she has checked the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) and Comprehensive Case Information System (CCIS), offered by Florida’s Clerks of Court. Using those records, the hearing officer will note the following:

  1. the number of previous hearings;
  2. the number of previous conviction(s);
  3. whether a traffic crash occurred;
  4. the number of previous suspensions; and
  5. the number of previous revocations.

The hearing officer will then review the subject’s driving record and discuss both current and past violations on the transcript.

The hearing officer will also inform the subject of the consequences resulting from future or similar violations (such as points, revocations, suspensions, or designation as a habitual traffic offender).

In many cases, the subject might have another suspension or revocation in another state or country that is not showing up on the Florida driver’s license. If the subject does not want to disclose this information to the hearing officer, then he or she should not request a hardship hearing.

In some cases, it might just be best to forgo the hardship hearing and just wait to reinstate the license until after the suspension is over.

Questions related to any out-of-state revocation or suspension would include:

  1. Have you ever been licensed in another state or country?
  2. If yes, in what state or country did the revocation or suspension occur?

Be aware that if that revocation or suspension is not showing up on the driving record, then the hearing officer may take steps to request that the out-of-state revocation or suspension be added to the Florida driving record.

For suspensions or revocations that are alcohol-related, the hearing officer will ask the following questions:

  1. Have you ever been convicted of an alcohol-related offense in any other state?
  2. Has your privilege to drive ever been suspended or revoked in any other state or country?
  3. If so, for what reason?
  4. Do you have any violations, convictions, revocations, or suspensions that have not been mentioned?
  5. If so, what are they?
  6. Do you understand what caused the revocation or suspension of your driving privilege?
  7. Were you incarcerated as a result of this revocation or suspension of your driving privileges?
  8. If so, what was the date of your release? [For purposes of determining your eligibility for a hardship license, some time periods do not begin until after the subject is released from incarceration.]
  9. What did you learn in the ADI / DUI School?
  10. How can you prevent future violations from occurring? [Don’t drive without a license and don’t drink alcohol].
  11. What are your driving needs? [work, school, church, doctor, grocery store]
  12. How did you get here today? [The hearing officers will often watch everyone that pulls into the parking lot. If you drive to the hearing they will know. Don’t drive to a nearby parking lot and walk over. Do not drive to the hearing.]
  13. How many licensed drivers are in your household?
  14. How have your driving needs been met since your revocation or suspension?
  15. When was the last time you operated a motor vehicle? [If you have a permanent revocation and you drove on that revocation during the last five years then you are NOT eligible for a hardship. If you have a DUI suspension and drove during the suspension, then you will not be eligible for a hardship.]
  16. For what reason did you operate a motor vehicle?

At this point, the hearing officer might discuss any F.R. (financial responsibility) Suspension. The hearing officer might also note whether the subject has a good or bad attitude (so tell your client to have a “good attitude”).

The form also says

“M/O’s (Multiple DUI Offenders) ONLY: When was the last time you consumed any type of alcoholic beverage or controlled substance?”

The bottom part of the form notes whether the D300 was issued, the date issue, who it was approved through, and whether the database was updated. The hearing officer will then note whether the person is eligible for:

C = Business Purposes
D = Employment Purposes
Y = Educational Purposes

The hearing officer will indicate whether the subject failed to submit. Whether the request was denied, the reason, and the reconsideration date.

The Hearing Officer will also talk with the subject about any requirement for the ignition interlock device and other conditions required by DUI special supervision services (if applicable).

The Hearing Officer will note whether the person has completed ADI, DUI School or another requirement, the completion date or the enrollment date. The bottom of the form also has a section for comment and the amount paid for the reinstatement or license fee. Finally, the form has a place for the hearing officer to sign.

Who is Not Eligible for a Hardship License?

Not everyone is eligible for a hardship license. You are not eligible for a hardship license if you have any of the following:

The following miscellaneous triggering events make a person not eligible for a hardship license:

  • Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance under §322.27(6)(has to have been driving a vehicle at the time of possession);
  • Theft of a Motor Vehicle or Parts or Components of a Motor Vehicle under §322.274(1)
    • Unless Court Order directs reinstatement
  • Suspension resulting from the “Drop-Out Law” under §322.091
  • Possession of Tobacco by a Minor under §569.11
  • Excessive Drinker/Habitual Drunkard
    • Referral to Medical Advisory Board
  • Failure to Pay Child Support under §322.245(4)
  • Fail To Pay Ct Financial Obligation under §322.245(5)
  • Failure to Pay/Appear – Traffic Fines under §318.15
  • Financial  Responsibility Suspensions under Chapters 627 and 324, Florida Statutes, and F.A.C. 15A1.019(5)(g)
    • FR ineligibility does not apply to Fraudulent Insurance Claim Revocation under §817.234(8)(9) & §817.505
  • CDL must be downgraded to Class E under §322.271(6) & 322.64(10)

Florida’s 15A-1.019 for Reinstatement and Hardship Privileges

Any driver whose driver’s license has been suspended, revoked, or canceled for any reason (other than those that are statutorily prohibited) and habitual offenders during the first year of their five-year revocation may apply immediately to the Department for the modification of the order or the reinstatement of a license.

Those requests pursuant to Section 322.271, F.S., include:

(1) Furnish the Department with a completed Application for Administrative Hearing (form HSMV-78306, Revised 12/13, and herein incorporated by reference), obtained from a Department office, and the following:

(a) Driver’s license, if in the applicant’s possession.

(b) A list of all arrests for traffic violations in this and any other state.

(c) Proof of driver improvement school requirements as provided in Section 322.271, F.S.

(2) If, after the hearing, the Department modifies its suspension, revocation or cancellation order or reinstates the use of the applicant’s driver’s license, such use will be for employment or business purposes only as defined in Section 322.271, F.S. for the remaining period of the original suspension or revocation.

(3) If, after the hearing, the Department affirms its original order, no further hearing shall be held, except that another hearing shall be granted by the Department if proof of new evidence is submitted.

(4) A violation of the restrictions imposed on the use of a reinstated license shall cause the license to be automatically suspended or revoked for the remainder of the period of the original suspension or revocation.

The administrative rule, F.A.C. 15A-1.019, was previously numbered as 15A-1.19 when created on 11-20-75. The rule was last amended on 12-22-92 and 6-3-14. Related statutory provisions include Florida Statute Sections 318.15, 322.16, 322.245, 322.271, 322.28, and 322.282.

What Happens if the First DUI is Not on the Record?

In many cases, a person will go to the Bureau of Administrative Reviews office in order to get a hardship license after a DUI conviction in court. Because it takes time for the court-ordered suspension to show up on the person’s driving record, the BAR will not have any record that the First DUI court-ordered suspension is on the driver’s record.

When the first DUI is not on the record, no hardship hearing will occur. Instead, the hearing officer will check for the driver’s eligibility.

If the driver is eligible, the hearing officer will issue a 30-day temporary permit with a C restriction. If the driver is not eligible, the hearing officer will tell the driver the reason he or she is not eligible and the way to take corrective actions.

The hearing officer will tell the person to check back near the end of 30 days. If the driving record is not updated with the DUI conviction within 30 days, then the driver needs a certified court order (with court seal and signature) containing the driver’s name, DL#, citation number, conviction information, and the length of sanction.

The hearing officer will make a copy of that record for the file and upload the document to SharePoint.

Getting a Hardship with Multiple DUI Convictions

If a person will multiple offenses has a DUI that is not yet listed on their driving record, then no hardship hearing will be scheduled.

Instead, the records are sent through SHAREPOINT. The hearing officer needs certified court documents (with court seal and signature) containing the driver’s name, DL#, citation number, conviction information, and the length of the sanction.

The hearing officer will obtain the customer’s phone number to advise the person when the record has been updated.

Multiple DUI Offenders Must Comply with the Special Supervision Service Program

Even out-of-state customers must be able to comply with SSSP. The driver must call the provider prior to the hearing to see if they can comply. The out-of-state multiple offenders will be told about two SSSP locations that can be contacted:

  • Bridgeway Center in Ft. Walton at (850) 833-7474; and
  • Tri-County in Winter Haven/Lakeland at (863) 701-1919.

If other sanctions are not on record, then no hearing will be scheduled.

Instead, the hearing officer will send records through SHAREPOINT using instructions. The hearing officer needs certified court documents (with court seal and signature) containing the driver’s name, DL#, citation number and conviction information and length of sanction.

The hearing officer will obtain the customer’s phone number to advise when the record has been updated.

What happens if the out of state license holder has a DUI Conviction?

There is no hardship hearing in Florida. The conviction will go to another state and the driver must deal with the requirements in that state. The conviction will NOT be recorded on the Florida driving record.

If a Florida driver’s license has been issued, the conviction should be transferred back through NDR so that no revocation occurs.

School Requirements for Hardship Reinstatement

Under Florida Statute Section 322.271(2)(a):

“Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the department shall require proof of the successful completion of the applicable department-approved driver training course … or DUI program substance abuse education course and evaluation …

If a driver’s license has been suspended under the point system or pursuant to s. 322.2615, the department shall require proof of enrollment…”

No School Required for these Convictions

As explained in BAR Bulletin 98-03, Bulletin 010-98, Fla. Stat. §322.271, and F.A.C.15A-1.019(4), unless specifically required by court order, the following non-driving suspensions or revocations do not require school attendance:

  • Firearms Violation under §790.22;
  • Fraud under §322.27(1)(d);
  • Worthless Checks under §832.09 & 832.05;
  • Lewdness or Immoral Acts under §322.26(7);
  • Petit Theft under §812.014;
  • Fraudulent Insurance Claims under §817.234(8) & (9), §817.505 and §322.26(9);
  • Upgrade In Restriction (D To C) under §322.271; and
  • Reinstatement Rescinded/ Non-Multiple DUI Offenders – F.A.C.15A-1.019(4).

Hardship Hearing for a Fraudulent Driver License

In Florida, the DHSMV will suspend a driver’s license for one year if the person is accused of fraudulently obtaining a driver’s license.

The driver may petition the department for a hearing to determine whether or not fraud has been committed. If during the hearing, it is determined that fraud was not committed, the suspension will be removed.

If fraud is proven, the driver may apply for a hardship license. If approved for a hardship license, or if the suspension has expired, the driver must take the required examination and pay a suspension reinstatement fee and any other applicable license fees. A hardship license restricts driving to employment or business purposes only.

Read more about the Florida DHSMV driver license fraud suspension and how we fight these cases.

Additional Resources

Hardship after a Driver License Suspension and Revocation – Visit the website for the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to learn more about the driver license suspension and revocation. Many suspensions can be cleared by paying an unpaid fine or submitting proof of completing driver improvement school. Find information on drivers who are incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle, point accumulations on the driver record, violations not-DUI related but resulting in death or serious bodily injury, and fraudulent driver’s license.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, April 16, 2024.