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Hardship License in Louisiana

Hardship license in Louisiana

Our driver’s license is the key to driving in any state in the United States. Without it, you would probably have no need to have a car. However, there are situations where we can have our license suspended or taken away by the government. One of the major reasons why this happens is because of drinking while driving.

In the State of Louisiana, this offense is known as “DWI” which means driving while intoxicated. If you are caught, you would be tried and convicted if proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The effect would be that you would be stripped off all the things that could allow you to drive. Chief among this would be your driver’s license. Once seized, you would not be able to drive anywhere anymore. This is where a hardship license comes in.

However, only your driving privileges in Louisiana can be suspended by the Louisiana Department of Public Safety. If you are licensed to drive in another state, Louisiana DPS cannot suspend your ability to drive there.


Hardship License

A hardship license is a license which is given to someone who has had his license seized or suspended. This license is only given to that person if there is enough proof to show that without the use of his or her driving ability, he or she would not be able to live life the way they ought to. 

The hardship license would allow them to drive at restricted periods. For example, it could allow you to drive yourself to work and back. You could also be allowed to pick up your groceries with the aid of the car and so much more.

Also, the hardship license allows the person to drive on all only roads which are approved by the license. If the person driving the car is stopped by a policeman, it is in the absolute discretion of the policeman to decide if his excuse for driving is a reasonable one.

Ignition Interlock Device

An in-car breath alcohol screening system linked to a vehicle’s ignition system, preventing the vehicle from starting if it detects a blood alcohol level above a predetermined limit.

Lease and Installation Agreement

A documented confirmation of the proper lease and installation of an ignition interlock device in a vehicle. You must use a certified installer such as SmartStart.

Necessity of Life

Activities essential for maintaining one’s livelihood and basic needs. For example, driving to the grocery store, which law enforcement may evaluate to determine necessity.

SR-22 Filing

A certificate of liability insurance from an authorized insurer in Louisiana. In some cases, a non-ownership policy may apply. An SR-22 binder can be accepted for 90 days, serving as an alternative to the original SR-22 filing for certain offenses.


Court orders or ignition interlock installation is NOT always necessary for these violations:

  • First School Bus Violation
  • First Unlawful Use
  • Child Support Enforcement (if recommended by DSS)
  • Non-alcohol-related Driving Under Suspension (e.g., Out of State Affidavit, Written Promise, In Lieu of, TESS Affidavit, and DOTD Affidavits)
  • Nonpayment of Income Taxes

Ignition Interlock Device is Required

For the following violations, an ignition interlock device must be installed, and only the vehicle equipped with the device can be driven:

  • Submitting to a breath alcohol content test
  • Refusing a chemical test for intoxication
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI or DUI)
  • Vehicular Negligent Injury
  • Alcohol-related Driving Under Suspension (applicant was under suspension for an alcohol offense on the date of violation).

Documentation Required for Hardship License Issuance

Depending on the reason for the suspension, the requirements to obtain a hardship license may include the following.

  • SR-22 Filing
    • SR-22 certificate is not required for a submittal over the limit
  • Ignition Interlock Lease and Installation Agreement
  • Recommendation Letter from Support Services
  • Court Order/Judgment

Employment Exception to Interlock Device

If an applicant drives their employer’s vehicle for work, the court may permit this without the interlock device, provided proper documentation and employer awareness are provided. However, if the applicant owns the company and drives the company vehicle, the interlock MUST be installed in that vehicle. Applicable fees must also be paid.


A hardship license is only available for Class D or E license holders, not for operating Commercial Motor Vehicles (Class A, B, or C). Applicants can downgrade to a Class D or E license if eligible.

Applicants suspended in another state upon becoming Louisiana residents must first fulfill the other state’s requirements before being eligible for a Louisiana license.

NOTE – Hardship licenses vary in accordance with multiple statutes, so applicants should contact the DMV for eligibility and requirements prior to visiting a Field office. We recommend contacting the DMV online.

Can you get a hardship license for DWI?

The answer to that question is yes. However, it would depend on a lot of factors. The first thing you would have to consider is the offense. For people who are only first-time DWI offenders and are more than 21 years of age, they would likely have their license suspended for just three months. Please note that it could go up to one year if you refuse to take an alcohol test. If you are a second-time offender, then you can expect your license to stay seized for four years.

For this reason, it is important to avoid being convicted of DWI charges, if you can help it. Once you are charged, it is important that you get yourself a DWI lawyer in Louisiana. This would ensure that you have a good defense.

Other things to bear in mind

You do NOT have to apply for a hardship license right after your arrest. If you contact our lawyers, we will request an Administrative Hearing within 30 days of the date of arrest to fight the proposed suspension of your driver’s license.

You can only have a hardship license if you are going to drive a class D or E vehicle. This means that the hardship license cannot be used for any form of commercial business.

If you are granted a hardship license, you will have a hard copy driver’s license with a large ‘R’ on your license which represents ‘Restricted.’

It would also be important to point out that you may be deprived of getting a hardship license if the crime which you committed was not in Louisiana. In that case, you would have to wait for your suspension to be over.

If you should violate the hardship license rules, there would be penalties. It is important then to stick with all the rules that you have been given.

Lawyer For DWI

The process to get and maintain a hardship license simply shows how important it is that we get ourselves a DWI lawyer in Louisiana as soon as we have any challenges with DWI. Our DWI defense attorneys would be happy to help you present a strong defense on your behalf. We make sure that our clients get quality services irrespective of how big or small the case may be. Contact us if you have a DWI or any other charge in Louisiana.

Carl Barkemeyer wrote the published book on DWI: Practical Information for the Accused and Attorneys in Louisiana. He regularly gives lectures and advice to other attorneys regarding how to successfully defend clients for DWI.

Louisiana DWI & Criminal Lawyers

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Louisiana criminal lawyers and DWI attorneys at the Barkemeyer Law Firm providing legal defense services for clients in Baton Rouge, Ascension, Livingston, Tangipahoa, Port Allen, Alexandria, New Orleans, Lafayette, Metairie, Kenner, Gretna, Hahnville, Chalmette, Slidell, St. Tammany, St. Charles, St. John, St. Bernard, Mandeville, Covington, Shreveport, Bossier, Jefferson, and all of Louisiana.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not formal legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

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