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How to Get a Hardship License in Indiana

Navigating life with a suspended driver’s license in Indiana can turn routine tasks into significant challenges. Without the ability to drive, simple activities like commuting to work, shopping for groceries, or transporting children to their various activities become complicated. Fortunately, there’s a viable solution: applying for a hardship license in Indiana. This legal provision provides individuals with specialized driving privileges in Indiana, allowing them to drive for essential daily activities despite a license suspension. 

Applying for a hardship license, while straightforward in theory, involves navigating complex statutory requirements and adhering to precise petition guidelines. For those seeking assistance in this process, the experienced attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are ready to help. Our team has extensive experience assisting Hoosiers as they seek to obtain specialized driving privileges. We can offer you the expertise and insight required to improve your chances of getting back on the road and putting your life back on track. To speak with an Indiana specialized driving privileges attorney today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Specialized Driving Privileges in Indiana

Understanding Hardship Licenses in Indiana: Essentials, Eligibility, and Limitations 

A hardship license in Indiana, often synonymous with specialized driving privileges, offers a lifeline for those with a suspended driver’s license. It’s a legal provision that allows individuals to maintain essential driving activities under strict court-imposed conditions. Here’s a deeper look into what these licenses entail, who can apply, and the limitations involved. 

What is a Hardship License? 

A hardship license in Indiana is not a separate license but a modification to a suspended license. It grants the license holder the right to drive under specific, limited circumstances. The scope of these privileges is determined by an Indiana court and tailored to each individual’s needs and situation. Generally, it includes permission for necessary daily activities such as commuting to work, attending necessary medical appointments, and fulfilling family responsibilities, such as taking the kids to school or making a parenting time exchange.  


To be eligible for a hardship license in Indiana, an applicant must meet the criteria outlined in Indiana Code 9-30-16-1. Under this section of Indiana law, specialized driving privileges are only available to individuals who possessed a valid driver’s license at the time of the offense that led to their suspension. On top of that, in order to be eligible, the conviction that led to the suspension must fall into one of the following categories:  

  • The offense involved the operation of a motor vehicle or boat 
  • The offense involved operating a motor vehicle or boat while intoxicated 
  • The offense was an infraction for exceeding the worksite speed limit for the second time in one year 

While those eligibility requirements apply to a broad population of offenders, it’s important to understand that some offenders are NOT eligible to obtain a hardship license in Indiana. This includes offenders who have never been Indiana residents; whose offense resulted in the death of another person; or whose license/driving privileges have been revoked due to being found incompetent or unfit to operate a motor vehicle. In addition, a person may be ineligible for a hardship license if their suspension was the result of refusing a certified chemical test despite having given implied consent under Indiana law. However, Indiana Code 9-30-6-8(d),  courts may grant these individuals specialized driving privileges, provided that they consent to having an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.  

Limitations and Conditions

Hardship licenses come with strict conditions and limitations. For the most part, courts only allow individuals with a hardship license to drive to and from work or attend to the needs of their children. Furthermore, they often limit the individuals driving privileges to highly specific hours, days, and routes. This means that otherwise normal errands, like going to the grocery or picking up dry cleaning, may be off the table, unless the court specifically approves those locations.  

As alluded to earlier, courts can also impose additional conditions on a driver’s hardship license. For example, a person arrested for a DUI in Indiana, may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their car in order to gain specialized driving privileges. This device would require them to pass a breath-alcohol test to turn on the vehicle’s engine. While this may sound reasonable to most people, it’s important to understand that these devices are costly and, as prescribed by Indiana law, the driver must cover the costs of renting the device and absorb the cost of the device’s installation.  

Hardship License Violations 

Adherence to the terms of a hardship license is crucial. In fact, if a person is found to be “knowingly or intentionally” in violation of the conditions of their specialized driving privileges, they can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor under Indiana Code 9-30-16-5. When this occurs, the court that issued the specialized driving privileges may elect to revoke the offender’s hardship license, or place additional modifications upon it. They may also order the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to lift the stay of a suspension of driving privileges and thus, suspend the person’s driver’s license, as originally ordered. 

How to Apply for a Hardship License in Indiana 

Eligible individuals who wish to apply for a hardship license in Indiana must follow the detailed statutory guidelines outlined in Indiana Code 9-30-16-4 when drafting and filing a petition for specialized driving privileges. Under these guidelines, a petitioner must include a variety of personal information (like their name, address, DOB, etc), the grounds for relief (why they’re requesting permission to drive), and the relief sought (where they need to drive to and when).  

Furthermore, the guidelines require that the petition be filed in the circuit or superior court of the “appropriate county.” Depending on the circumstances of the suspension, the appropriate county may be one of the following:  

  • The county in which the person resides  
  • The court that has ordered or imposed the suspension 
  • The county in which the individual’s most recent moving violation judgment was entered.  

Finally, once the petition has been drafted and filed with the appropriate court, the petition must be served on the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and the prosecuting attorney responsible for their case. For court-ordered suspensions, the prosecutor will appear in court to argue the State’s position regarding a request for a hardship license in Indiana. In some situations, they may oppose the petition or seek further limitations than requestion.  

Given the complexity of the application process, the legal nuance required to determine the appropriate court, and the importance of a well-prepared petition, many applicants seek legal assistance. An experienced specialized driving privileges attorney in Indiana can guide you through the eligibility requirements, help prepare a compelling case, and represent you in court. They can also assist in navigating any potential challenges, such as opposition from the prosecutor or skepticism from the judge. 

Need Assistance Getting an Indiana Hardship License? 

Obtaining a hardship license in Indiana can significantly ease the burden of a suspended license, enabling individuals to maintain essential aspects of their daily life. However, understanding eligibility criteria and application requirements is crucial towards ensuring that everything is being done to get you back on the road.  

When seeking a hardship license, professional legal assistance can be extremely valuable. By enlisting the services of a specialized driving privileges attorney, you’ll avoid making common mistakes, like filing your petition in the wrong county/court or improperly serving the prosecutor/BMV, thus increasing your chances of having your request granted.  

If you’re facing a suspended license in Indiana and wish to apply for a hardship license, contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We’re committed to helping you navigate this process with expertise and care, so that you can begin your journey towards regaining your driving privileges. 

Article Name
How to Get a Hardship License in Indiana
This article discusses the topic of hardship licenses in Indiana, including eligibility, conditions, and violations. It also addresses how to get a hardship license in Indiana
Publisher Name
Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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