What is a hardship license and who is eligible?

A hardship license is a license a state offers drivers who are younger than the required age to obtain a regular drivers license but who, for various reasons, need to drive without the supervision of a licensed adult.

Each state defines “hardship” in its own way, as well as sets its own restrictions on hardship licenses, but in general the licenses are meant for minors younger than 16 who need to drive for school, work, or medical reasons.

Check the grid below to find out if your state offers a hardship license and the minimum age requirement to obtain the license, and be sure to check the notes for any special situation requirements.

Not many states offer hardship licenses for minors. Keep in mind that if your state doesn’t, it still might offer special privileges – such as unaccompanied night driving for school or work, or unaccompanied driving for farm purposes – with its junior or provisional permits.

NOTE: Don’t confuse this kind of hardship license with the kind states offer to drivers who have suspended or revoked licenses and need a restricted license to get to and from work.  

Yes No
Alabama
x
Alaska
x
Arizona
x
Arkansas
x
California
x
Does offer hardship licenses but only to minors who are already facing license suspension.
Colorado
x
Connecticut
x
Delaware
x
Florida
x
Georgia
x
Offers a hardship license to minors who have suspended licenses due to school conduct or attendance problems, but who need exemptions in order to get to and from school or for family medical reasons. Must be old enough to already have a license. Contact your local DDS office.
Hawaii
x
Idaho
x
Illinois
x
Indiana
x
Iowa
x
Offers a school license to minors not yet old enough for a full license but who need special privileges to drive unaccompanied to and from school. Usually you must have held a permit for 6 months. Contact your local driver license issuance site.
Kansas
x
Kentucky
x
Louisiana
x
Maine
x
Maryland
x
Massachusetts
x
Michigan
x
Offers a Minor Restricted License to minors who are at least 14 years old if there’s a severe hardship related to the family farm and there’s no other kind of transportation available. Contact your local SOS office.
Minnesota
x
Offers a restricted Farm Work License to minors who are at least 15 years old. Contact your local DPS office.
Mississippi
x
Missouri
x
Montana
x
Nebraska
x
Offers a School Learners Permit (you must be 14) and a School Permit for minors who live in rural areas and need transportation to school. Contact your local DMV office.
Nevada
x
Offers a restricted license to minors who are at least 14 years old and have either a family hardship or need transportation to and from school. Contact your local DMV office.
New Hampshire
x
New Jersey
x
New Mexico
x
New York
x
North Carolina
x
North Dakota
x
Ohio
x
Offers a hardship license to 14- and 15-year-olds who meet, and whose households meet, certain strict criteria. This license is only valid for a 10-mile radius and can be used for getting groceries and other household items or driving family members to medical appointments. Cannot be used for school or work. Contact your local BMV office.
Oklahoma
x
Oregon
x
Pennsylvania
x
Rhode Island
x
South Carolina
x
South Dakota
x
Tennessee
x
Offers a hardship license to 14- and 15-year-olds who meet certain hardship criteria. The license is good for 25 miles, one way, and covers school, work, medical, and extracurricular school activities. Contact your local DOS office.
Texas
x
Offers a hardship license as long as the applicant is at least 15. Contact your local DPS office.
Utah
x
Vermont
x
Virginia
x
Washington
x
West Virginia
x
Wisconsin
x
Wyoming
x
Offers a hardship permit to 14- and 15-year-olds valid for 5 miles from the residence and that can be used for school or work purposes. Contact your local DOT office.
Washington DC
x




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