Some serious infractions, like a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction or being found at-fault in a serious accident, will cause you to lose your Florida drivers license. You can also lose driving privileges if you fail to make child support payments, fail a vision test or fail to comply with a court order to attend traffic school.
There are a number of reasons why your drivers license could be taken away, but there are only two ways to remedy the situation so that you can legally drive again.
What Happens If You Drive with a Suspended License in Florida
Driving with a suspended license is illegal - period. During the time your license is suspended, you should refrain from driving under any circumstances. The first time you’re caught driving with a suspended license it’s a second-degree misdemeanor that can come with a 60-day jail sentence and a fine of up to $500.
A second offense could put you in jail for up to one year with a fine of up to $1,000. And if you get a third conviction it could result in a third-degree felony charge. The penalty is up to five years in prison, and a $5,000 fine.
If you receive a conviction for driving with a suspended license you’ll need to check your driving record. When a driver receives three convictions within a five-year time period, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department will label you as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) and revoke your license for five years.
How to Get a Florida Hardship License
While you have a suspended license, you may be eligible for a Florida Hardship License. With this restricted license, you’ll be able to drive for school-related activities or for business. If you were convicted of a first-offense DUI or have an otherwise clean driving record, the Florida Hardship License may be a viable option for you while you wait out your suspension period.
To find out if you’re eligible to apply for a hardship license, contact the regional Bureau of Administrative Reviews. To get a hardship license in Florida, you’ll need to:
Enroll in Driving Under the Influence School or the 12-hour Florida ADI course and get your free enrollment verification letter. If your license was suspended because of a DUI you’ll have to attend Driving Under the Influence School. Everyone else needs to take the ADI course. You only need to be enrolled at the time you apply for a hardship license, but the course must be complete within 90 days of enrollment.
Get your 30-day driving record from the county clerk’s office. You’ll need to submit this with the application.
Complete form HSMV 78306 to apply for a hardship hearing so that your request for a hardship license will be considered.
Take the enrollment verification letter, 30-day driving record, application and two forms of I.D. to the nearest Administrative Reviews Office to submit the application.
Pay the related fees so that the application will be processed. This includes a $12 hardship hearing filing fee and $45 reinstatement fee for license suspensions.
Wait to be contacted by the hearing officer that’s assigned to your case. The hearing officer will be in charge of reviewing your request, scheduling the hearing by phone or in-person and determining if you are eligible for a hardship license.
Get your hardship license if you are deemed eligible. As soon as the hearing is complete you’ll know if you’ll be able to get a hardship license and start driving again.
Please keep in mind there may be additional requirements or you may have to wait to apply for a hardship license depending on the reason your license was suspended. While you may still have to wait out your entire suspension period, following the steps outlined by the judge in your case and the FLHSMV will help you get back on the road as quickly as possible.
How to Get Your Florida Drivers License Reinstated
Florida state statutes give drivers an opportunity to earn back some of their driving privileges after a suspension. Getting your license reinstated is one of the options. Unlike a hardship license, reinstatement will give you back full driving privileges.
The requirements for reinstatement of a suspended license in Florida vary depending on the conviction and if it’s your first offense. All reinstatement requirements applicable to your situation will be listed in detail on your Notice of Suspension letter. You can also contact your local Florida drivers license center to learn about the steps you must take to get your Florida drivers license reinstated. FLHSMV staff can talk with you about your situation over the phone or in person.
Below is the general steps that need to be taken to get your Florida drivers license reinstated.
Step 1. Wait Out the Suspension
Reinstatement occurs after the suspension period is complete. If you want to drive before the suspension period has ended you’ll need to apply for a hardship license.
Step 2. Enroll in an Advanced Driver Improvement Course
Before your license will be reinstated you must complete or be enrolled in an Advanced Driver Improvement (ADI) course. It’s the same course that’s needed for a hardship license. Once enrolled you’ll receive an enrollment verification letter that must be submitted before your license will be reinstated.
Step 3. Complete the Conditions Related to the Charge
You may also be required to complete the following:
Drug and alcohol course
DMV-approved traffic school
Court-ordered community service
The conditions are different from one case to the next. You’ll need to review the Notice of Suspension letter and other court documents to know exactly what conditions must be met prior to reinstatement.
Step 4. Submit the Enrollment Verification Letter Pay All Fines
Once you complete the first three steps you’ll need to make a trip to your local Florida drivers license service center. You’ll need to pay any and all outstanding fines. That includes the $45 reinstatement fee. You’ll also need to provide the enrollment verification letter to get your license reinstated.
There you have it! If your license has been suspended it doesn’t mean you’ll never drive again. What it means is you need to take some additional education, identify the skills you need to work on and then slowly work your way back to driving like normal.
*This article was updated on 2/18/21.
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