The Law Dictionary

Your Free Online Legal Dictionary • Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed.

How Does A Restricted License Work?

A normal driver’s license allows people to operate a vehicle at any time to visit any locations with any passengers they see fit. A restricted license offers much more limited driving rights or privileges. This is how a restricted license works.

“Special Categories for Licenses”

All just laws are supposed to apply equally to all parties. In order to create special driving categories, there must be a reason for not believing that an individual can adhere to the same standards as a normal motor vehicle operator. The primary two reasons for a conditional permit or restricted license are 1) underage status or 2) commission of a crime.

Before the age of adulthood (18 in most states) most teenagers can qualify for a conditional use permit (CUP) or conditional driving permit (CDP). Depending upon the state, the teenage may not have passengers or drive at certain hours. These restrictions are removed upon becoming an adult.

“Moving Violation or Controlled Substance Influence”

Each state has its own driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws. Typically, a repeat offender with a certain number of violations over a certain period of time could receive a license suspension. Some states may confiscate the automobile, require restrictive plates or install a breathalyzer key ignition system.

But as the government attempts to “reintroduce” an offender back into regular society, the government must gradually allow a driver to perform necessary travel. Normal actions like buying groceries, picking up a child or getting to work may qualify a driver for a restricted license. An applicant can claim “hardship” to a court meaning that the “inability to drive creates an undue hardship making it impossible for the individual to live a real life.”

In these hardship cases, the courts will allow for an individual, convicted of a serious moving violation (alcohol or drugs), to receive a restricted license detailing what can and cannot be done. There are many names given to these licenses: occupational, work, hardship or Cinderella to name a few. Traveling to school or observing a religious service might also be acceptable functions under said license.

“Some Courts Require Fulfillment of Rehabilitation Program”

The court might also require an individual to complete a drug rehabilitation treatment program or perform community service. The restricted license could allow the individual to drive to and from these court-mandated appointments.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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