When Can You Get a Restricted License?

If your license is suspended in Virginia, you’re not always eligible for a restricted license or worker’s license. But you CAN get one in some situations.

Video Transcription

Hello, my name is Andrew Flusche. I’m a Virginia traffic attorney. In many cases when people are looking at possibly losing their license due to a traffic charge, they’re very concerned with whether or not they will be able to get a restricted license. Some people call it a “worker’s permit” or a “worker’s license” but the law calls it a “restricted operator’s license.”

What that means is, even if you’re suspended, you can sometimes get a restricted privilege to let you drive for certain specific things. For example, you could drive to work, to school, doctor appointments, to take care of minor children in your care, to drive to court ordered visitation, or to court ordered treatment programs like ASAP or community based probation. Also, you’d be able to drive once a week to church or worship service. So there are quite a few things, including some other miscellaneous provisions. The question though is, when are you allowed to get that kind of license? There are some cases when you can and some cases when you can’t.

The easiest example of a case when you can normally get a restricted license is for DUI or DWI. If you’re convicted of a first offense DUI, your license is suspended for one year in Virginia. During that one year however, you would normally be eligible to get a restricted license to drive for all those permissible purposes and to your Alcohol Safety Action Program classes. Now, effective July 1, 2012, you will have to have ignition interlock on your vehicle to get that restricted license, but you would still normally be eligible. That’s not to say you will always get one. Sometimes the judge may not authorize it, but it’s a good example of a case where you normally can get a restricted license.

A good example of a case where you can’t is if you’re convicted of DUI, then during that one year period, you drive outside your restriction. You’re going to be charged with driving on a DUI revoked license, under 18.2-272. Under that statute, if you’re convicted, your license is suspended for another whole year and you have no possibility of getting a restricted license. It will be one year of what we call a “hard suspension” meaning there is no driving whatsoever during that year.

Another good example is a driving on suspended case. Let’s say you forget to pay a ticket on time and the DMV suspends you. Most people think it’s not a big deal, but then you’re driving to work or even driving to the DMV to pay the fee and you get pulled over, you’ll be convicted of driving on suspended. In that case as well, the court has to suspend your license again for an additional period of time. It could be anywhere from a day or two to 90 days sometimes. In those suspensions, you cannot get a restricted license either. There is one exception to that, depending on fines and costs, but it gets really complicated.

As you can see, you’re not always eligible for a restricted license, and it does get complicated about when you are eligible. That’s one important reason to talk to a traffic attorney, if any of this is an issue in your case.

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