What Is a Hardship License and Can I Apply after DUI in Pennsylvania?

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
April 20, 2021

If you’re facing driving under the influence charges in Pennsylvania, you may be worried that the consequences associated with a conviction will take a toll on your mental health, finances, social life, and career. That’s not to mention the potential for court appearances, fines, and a suspension of your license. The latter, which encompasses a restriction on your driving privileges, is perhaps the most dreaded penalty following a DUI arrest.

If a license suspension is issued, offenders must continue to operate their daily lives without the ability to drive, which is an inconvenience for just about everyone. After all, it’s nearly impossible to get around Pennsylvania without the use of a vehicle, whether you’re going to school, running errands, seeing family, or heading to and from work. Fortunately, it may be possible for you to get what is colloquially known as a “hardship license” in Pennsylvania if you meet the requirements. Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Hardship License?

A hardship license—more formally called an “occupational limited license” in Pennsylvania—is a Class C Driver’s License issued to a driver whose Pennsylvania driving privileges have been, or will be, suspended. An OLL authorizes you to drive a designated vehicle when necessary for your occupation, work, trade, medical treatment, or study.

These licenses can be obtained if you can explain why you need to drive in order to get to and from these locations. You’ll also have to provide information about the location to which you’ll be traveling, and you’ll be restricted to driving only to and from those locations. You may also be allowed to go to and from your medical appointments.

It’s important to note that if your driving privileges have been revoked, disqualified, canceled, or recalled, you’re not eligible for an OLL. You’re also ineligible to apply if you’ve never been licensed or have been issued an OLL in the last five years.

How to Apply for a Hardship License in Pennsylvania

To apply, you must complete an Occupational Limited License Petition, which is available on the PennDOT website. Mail the form along with a check or money order, proof of insurance, and the required restoration fee. A fee for applying for an OLL is $50 and is non-refundable. Within 20 days, you’ll receive a letter in the mail from the department which tells you if you’ve qualified.

The OLL will be valid only for the length of time specified on the document. Once your regular driving privileges have been restored, your driver’s license will be sent to you.

What Offenses Are Eligible for a Hardship License in Pennsylvania?

As noted, you may be able to obtain a hardship license after a DUI charge if you meet the eligibility requirements set forth by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. . Note that some OLL applicants will not be eligible until they have served a certain amount of their suspension.  For instance, if a person is facing a combination of reasons for their license suspension, one of which is a 60 days suspension for an ARD for DUI, then that 60 day suspension must be served before an OLL can be granted. Likewise, a driver qualifies for an OLL if the conviction results in an 18-month suspension and the defendant has no more than one prior offense within the past 10 years, has served 12 months of the 18-month suspension, has satisfied all restoration requirements, and has the ignition interlock installed on their vehicle.

Other violations that could allow you to be eligible for an OLL include the following:

  • Passing a school bus
  • Racing on highways
  • Homicide by vehicle
  • Fleeing a police officer
  • Driving without lights
  • Reckless driving
  • Accidents involving death or injury
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Failure to respond to a citation
  • Driving while suspended
  • Refusal to submit to a chemical testing
  • Failure to maintain financial responsibility
  • Underage alcohol violations
  • Any serious traffic offense
  • Any violations relating to accidents and accident reports

If you’re unable to secure a limited occupational license, you may be able to get a restricted license if you agree to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle under Pa. CSA § 3805.

Contact a Seasoned DUI Defense Lawyer in Montgomery County.

If you or a loved one have been arrested for driving under the influence, speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. The expert lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford are here to protect your rights, not only by helping you obtain a hardship license but also by potentially reducing or completely eliminating your DUI charges altogether. Our legal team will investigate your case in detail and work to build you a robust defense. We’re well versed in DUI defense law and may help you avoid the consequences that stem from this offense.

For more than 65 years, our lawyers have been serving clients’ legal needs in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Chester County, Delaware County, and throughout the surrounding areas. We’ve earned the respect and trust of clients facing a diverse range of legal problems. Our attorneys serve to protect your rights. Call us at (215) 822-7575 or complete our online contact form today.


Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
April 20, 2021
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.