Hardship Driver’s License


Driving You Crazy

Well your kid has finally done it. They’ve convinced you that they need a driver’s license before they turn 16. I remember getting a hardship license when I was 15 because of my job’s hours.

However, before you start shopping for a safety-focused car for your child, let’s discuss the requirements and the new law.

Who Qualifies for Hardship License?

The Department of Public Safety (aka DMV) may issue a license to a person if failing to issue one “will result in an unusual economic hardship for the family of the applicant, the license is necessary because of the illness of a member of the applicant’s family, or the license is necessary because the applicant is enrolled in a vocational education program and requires a driver’s license to participate.”

Recent Change in Law

In addition to qualifying for a Hardship License, the child must meet some requirements. They must pass a “driver’s training course,” be a certain age, and pass the licensing test. Here’s the tricky part; as of September 1, 2011, the law has changed 2 of these.

Driver’s Ed—The applicant, your child, isn’t eligible to take the driver’s training course until they are 15 (was 14), and this course now must be approved by the Texas Education Agency and conducted by a licensed driver’s education school. No more home-taught driver’s ed?

Certain Age—To apply for the license, the applicant must now be at least 15 years and 180 days. For those of you doing math at home, yes that is 6 months. (15 1/2 years old)

Exceptions and Possible Loophole

The law states that “if the department determines that an applicant must assist in the responsibilities imposed by a family illness, disability, death-related emergency, or economic emergency, then they may issue a temporary license to an applicant who has satisfied” the driver’s education requirement.

In my interpretation, it looks like someone can get a Hardship License earlier than age 15 1/2, but would be limited to the earliest they can complete driver’s ed after turning 15.

New Law, New Penalty

One big change to the Hardship License law is the penalty if the hardship license holder receives a Moving Violation. (i.e., speeding, running stop sign, failure to signal turn)

The previous law gave the department the option of suspending a Hardship License if the licensee is convicted of a moving violation. Under the new law, the department shall (must) suspend the license for that moving violation conviction.

Oh, and just in case you are wondering, paying the ticket fine is a plea of guilty and is a “conviction” for that violation.

–Authored by Matthew L. Harris, Esq.,


Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Family Law Division

1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309

Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479

[email protected]