A restricted license is a limited use license that can allow you to drive for approved purposes, during defined times. Other states refer to them as “hardship licenses” or “work licenses.”
There are two parts to a restricted license in Virginia. The first part is the 8.5 X 11 green sheets that the court will issue on or about the day of your conviction. You fill out an application, turn in your DMV driver’s license, and if the judge approves, the clerk (or ASAP in some courts) will hand you 2 or 3 sheets of green paper. The “green sheets” list all of the approved places you can travel.
After a month or so, you will go to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). DMV will issue you another plastic hard copy of your license – this is the second part of the restricted license. You will have to carry the green sheets and the plastic DMV license until your license is fully restored.
Fill out a restricted license application form online here.
How long will I have to drive on a restricted license?
That depends on what type of DWI you were convicted of:
- DWI 1st … license revoked for a year … will drive on restricted for about a year.
- DWI 2nd within 5 years … license revoked for 3 years … no driving for a full year … can drive on a restricted for the last 2 years.
- DWI 2nd within 5 to 10 years … license revoked for 3 years … no driving for 4 months … can drive on a restricted for 2 years and 8 months.
Can I drink alcohol and drive with a restricted license?
Virginia Code 18.2-272 makes it a crime for you to drive with a 0.02% blood alcohol level. That’s about one 12 ounce beer or one shot for a 160 pound man. That’s not much!
If you are caught, you face another Class 1 misdemeanor and an absolute loss of driving privileges for an entire year. No restricted license can be granted.
Where can I drive with a restricted license?
Under Virginia law, a judge can grant you:
- travel to and from your place of employment. A restricted can allow you to drive for multiple jobs.
- travel during the hours of your employment if the travel is a necessary for employment. Sales reps, plumbers, and those in construction often travel quite a bit for work. You will probably be required to carry a work schedule to prove that you are driving for work.
- travel to and from an alcohol rehabilitation or safety action program, the education classes, and any treatment they require. This usually covers A.A. and N.A. groups.
- travel to and from school if you are a student, but you need to provide the court with a class schedule.
- travel for (a) your health care, (b) medically necessary transportation of an elderly parent, or (c) any person residing in your household with a serious medical problem upon written verification of need by a licensed health professional. Many judges require you to carry an appointment card from your doctor if you are going to drive there. Some judges will even let you drive out of state in order to take your parents to the doctor.
- travel necessary to transport a minor child under your care (a) to and from school, (b) day care, and (c) medical service providers.
- travel to and from your court-ordered visitation with a child. Judges are split: some require a court order, others don’t.
- travel to a screening, evaluation and education program if you have entered a first offender drug program (§ 18.2-251 or subsection H of § 18.2-258.1). This is for a first offender drug or underage possession of alcohol program.
- travel to and from court appearances in which you are (a) a subpoenaed witness or a party, (b) appointments with your probation officer, and (c) to and from any programs required by the court or as a condition of probation.
- travel to and from a place of religious worship one day per week at a specified time and place. Sometimes this is a nice way to get out on a Sunday or some other day. You don’t have to go – but you can if you want to.
- travel to and from appointments approved by the Division of Child Support Enforcement of the Department of Social Services as a requirement of participation in a court-ordered intensive case monitoring program for child support.
- travel to and from jail to serve a sentence when you are sentenced to confinement in jail to be served is on weekends or nonconsecutive days. If you can get ignition interlock installed quickly enough, you can drive to weekend jail.
- travel to and from the facility that installed or monitors the ignition interlock in your vehicle. You usually have to get someone to drive you to get ignition interlock installed but then you can drive for the monthly calibration and data download.
Click here for a Restricted License Form application.
Where can’t I drive on a restricted license?
Almost everywhere else. There is no other official list of where you can drive other than the list above. All judges I know, agree that you can stop for gas between the places you are specifically allowed to travel to. But what about oil changes?
There is no exception to drive for groceries, or to funerals, or to make hospital visits. A restricted license is very restrictive in Virginia.
Where do I get the Restricted license?
This varies. In some courts, the clerk types out your restricted license; in other courts ASAP does the typing.
How quick can I get the restricted? What do I need to get it?
Most courts will hand you the restricted license the same day of court; others make you come back the next day. Some courts require full payment of all fines and costs before they issue it; most do not. A few require written verification of your job from your employer.
What exactly do I get from the court?
First, before you get anything, you will need to turn in your license to the clerk. In turn, the clerk (or ASAP in some jurisdictions) will give you three green sheets of paper that will function as your restricted license for the year. The green sheets list everywhere that you are legally allowed to drive.
In a month or two, you will go to DMV and pick up another hard copy of your license. You will have to drive for the period of your suspension with both the hard copy and the green sheets.
I have to drive for work. Am I guaranteed to get a restricted license?
Judges give the vast majority of people convicted of driving while intoxicated a restricted license whenever the law allows for it. The law does not permit immediate restricted licenses for second or subsequent DWIs within 10 years or convictions for refusals.
Some judges will not grant restricted licenses if you were “belligerent” with your arresting officer. But the vast majority of eligible people do get a restricted.
Can I get the restricted privileges changed?
Yes. Just go to the clerk of court whenever your address, job, or any other details change. If you change jobs, don’t get your restricted license changed, and get caught, you can lose your privilege to drive for a year and may face additional jail time and fines.
The clerk told me that she could not give me a restricted license in Virginia because I have an out-of-state driver’s license. Is that true?
No. I have heard this from many clerks and occasionally a judge. The Code of Virginia allows a court to grant a restricted license to out-of-state drivers. The restrictions are ONLY for driving in the Commonwealth.
§ 46.2-398.1. Issuance of restricted driver’s privilege to out-of-state licensees.
When the operator of any motor vehicle who is not licensed to drive in Virginia, but who has a valid driver’s license from another jurisdiction, is convicted in Virginia of any violation for which license suspension and issuance of a restricted license to a Virginia driver is authorized, the court may issue him a restricted driving privilege in Virginia upon the same conditions as if the person held a valid Virginia license. The court order, and any writing or communication setting forth the person’s restricted privilege, shall include clear language indicating that the person is not a licensed Virginia driver.
I have a Virginia license and got a DUI while visiting another state. I just got a letter from DMV that they suspended my license. Where do I get a restricted license?
- The Code of Virginia says that a judge can order a restricted license but you will need to attend VASAP and install ignition interlock.
- You apply at the General District Court where you live.
- Virginia Code 18.2-271.1 (D) states:
Any person who has been convicted in another state of the violation of a law of such state substantially similar to the provisions of § 18.2-266 or subsection A of § 46.2-341.24, and whose privilege to operate a motor vehicle in this Commonwealth is subject to revocation under the provisions of § 46.2-389 and subsection A of § 46.2-391, may petition the general district court of the county or city in which he resides …
How do I go about asking the court for a restricted license?
IF you are at court for a DWI 1st then the clerk or ASAP will help you get a restricted license after you or your lawyer ask the judge for one.
IF you received a DWI 2nd, or you received a DWI from another state:
- Call the Clerk of General District Court and ask what day and time the court hears restricted license petitions.
- Fill out the restricted license form. (Some courts will have their own local form. But, their local form will ask for the same information as the state form.)
Click here for a Restricted License Form application.
- Show up at the right place and time. Be ready to answer any questions that the judge may have.
What if I mess up and get caught driving outside my restrictions?
The penalties are harsh if you are convicted. The law mandates that your license be revoked for another year – but this time – no restricted license can be granted. That means no driving for work, no driving your kids to school, no driving at all. Virginia Code 18.2-272.
A conviction is also a Class 1 misdemeanor that can result in a year in jail or a $2500 fine. 3 convictions within a 10 year period is a felony.
Wrong on the web.
“Regardless of age, if driving on a DUI suspended or restricted license, you may be charged with DUI if you drive with a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher.” dmv.state.va.us
Wrong! This is a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia Code 18.2-272, but not a DUI. It does have serious consequences though – once convicted you will not drive again until your license is restored.
Click here to see what the law says.