A Texas hardship license, also known as a Minor Restricted Driver License (MRDL), is a type of permit that allows minors, who are at least 15 years old, to drive alone without the presence of an adult. This type of license is granted to minors who have proven a necessity for driving, such as being the head of a household and needing to drive to work or school.
In general, Texas places an age limit on who can obtain a driver license and operate a vehicle on its streets. Teen drivers must be at least 16 years old in order to receive a driver’s license outright. However, exceptions exist for certain situations, and this is where the Texas hardship license comes in.
The Texas Department of Public Safety created the Texas hardship license as a way to provide driving privileges to minors who may have exceptional circumstances that require them to drive earlier than usual. This license is a restricted drivers license, which means that it comes with specific rules, restrictions and limitations. The main limitation of a hardship license is that it allows the holder to operate a vehicle solely for the purpose of addressing the specific circumstance that led to the issuance of the hardship license.
Hardship License Requirements
Hardship license requirements are specific criteria that must be met in order to qualify for a hardship license in Texas. These requirements include the reasons that can qualify a driver for a hardship license, age requirements, and general driver's license requirements. This section will provide an overview of the different factors that are taken into consideration when determining eligibility for a hardship license, including the specific circumstances that may warrant the issuance of a hardship license, the age at which a minor can apply for a hardship license, and the general driver's license requirements that must be met.
What Qualifies You for a Hardship License
In order to be eligible for a hardship license in Texas, individuals must meet specific criteria. The types of situations that may qualify an individual for a hardship license include financial hardship, such as the loss of a job, or other exceptional circumstances.
The Texas Administrative Code outlines several reasons that can qualify a person for a hardship license. These reasons are considered when determining eligibility for a hardship license. The four main factors that can qualify a person for a hardship license are:
- Unusual economic hardship: Economic hardship refers to situations where a person's ability to earn a livelihood is impacted. More on unusual economic hardship below.
- Illness, sickness, or disability of a family member: If a family member is suffering from a serious illness, sickness, or disability, and the person applying for the hardship license is responsible for providing transportation for that family member, they may qualify for a hardship license.
- Death-related emergency: In the event of a death in the family, a person may qualify for a hardship license if they are responsible for providing transportation for family members to attend the funeral or take care of final arrangements.
- Enrollment in a career and technology or vocational education program requiring a driver license to participate: Some career and technology or vocational education programs require students to have a driver's license in order to participate. If a person is enrolled in such a program, they may qualify for a hardship license.
Unusual economic hardship refers to a set of circumstances that may necessitate an individual to obtain a driver's license before the typical minimum age requirement in Texas. According to the Texas Administrative Code, there are several situations that qualify as unusual economic hardship, including:
- Being married and maintaining a separate household apart from the parent or guardian
- Being the head of a household other than as a married person
- Having dependent children and needing to drive to ensure their welfare
- Being the only person in the household eligible for a driver's license
- Being the only person in the household eligible for a driver's license, other than the head of the household, and that person is absent from the residence for sustained periods of time due to work, necessitating licensing of the applicant to sustain the household
- Attending school and needing to work to provide basic necessities, and other means of transportation are not available without causing other family members to be absent from work
- Requiring transportation to and from school and a school bus or public transportation is not available. Travel to participate in school activities such as sports, band, or other extracurricular activities is not sufficient reason to establish unusual economic hardship.
- Needing to drive in order to assist in essential farming or ranching activity, which is the primary source of family income.
It's worth noting that these are examples of situations that can qualify a person for a hardship license due to unusual economic hardship, but the decision is ultimately up to the Texas Department of Public Safety. In order to apply for a hardship license, an applicant will need to provide documentation to support their claim of hardship.
When applying for a hardship license in Texas, you will need to provide documentation to support your claim of hardship. The following are the different reasons that can qualify you for a hardship license and the required proof for each:
- Unusual economic hardship: This refers to a set of circumstances that may require a person to start driving before the typical minimum driving age in Texas is reached. To prove unusual economic hardship, you may need to provide earnings statements demonstrating a financial burden that only the minor can solve, proof of gainful employment and a salary that can provide significant support for the family.
- Illness, sickness, or disability of a family member: If you are claiming hardship due to a family member's condition, you will need to provide a signed statement from the attending physician attesting that the family member must not drive due to the condition/illness.
- A death-related emergency: In case of a death-related emergency, you will need to disclose the name of the deceased, date of death and relationship to the deceased.
- Enrollment in a career and technology or vocational education program: If you are claiming hardship due to enrollment in a career and technology or vocational education program, you will need to provide certification from the school administration attesting the enrollment of the applicant in an approved career and technology education course recognized by the school for academic credit and that driving by the applicant is necessary to pursue such program.
It is important to note that the Texas Department of Public Safety will review and approve each application on a case-by-case basis, and therefore, additional documentation may be required.
In order to be eligible for a hardship license in Texas, applicants must be at least 15 years old and under 18 years old. This age limit is in place to ensure that the applicant is mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving and that they are still in the process of completing their education. It is important to note that the hardship license is only a temporary solution and that a full driver's license will be required once the applicant turns 18.
While the minimum licensing age of 16 years and the minimum learners permit holding period of 6 months are not observed for hardship license applicants, all other requirements for obtaining a Texas drivers license must still be met.
To begin, applicants must first obtain a Texas learners permit. This requires passing a written driving test and a vision test to ensure that the applicant has the knowledge and ability to safely operate a vehicle.
Once the drivers permit is obtained, the applicant must complete a driver's education course, which covers the rules of the road and safe driving practices. The applicant must also complete the necessary driving hours, as required by the state.
Finally, the applicant must pass the driving test in order to be issued a hardship license. This test assesses the applicant's ability to operate a vehicle safely, including maneuvers such as turning, parallel parking, and emergency braking.
How to Apply for a Hardship License
The process for applying for a hardship license in Texas includes submitting the necessary documentation, such as proof of insurance, paying the application fee and passing the driving test (provided that you already hold a Texas learners permit).
To apply for a hardship license, you will need the following:
- A valid Texas drivers permit
- All identifying information required of regular full operator license applications.
- Parent or guardian.
- Application for a hardship license (form DL-77).
- Signed form verifying completion of Texas driver education program (your certificate of completion).
- The Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) certificate.
- Proof of hardship (such as a signed statement from a physician or school administrator, or documentation of financial hardship).
It is important to note that a parent or guardian must be present to sign the application form. If the minor applicant does not have a parent or guardian, a county judge or employer can act as a representative. Once all the necessary documents have been gathered, the completed application must be submitted in person at the nearest DPS office.
Obtaining a hardship license in Texas incurs the same cost as obtaining a regular driver's license, which is currently $16. Additionally, the applicant must also pay for a driver's education course as part of the process of obtaining the license. There are no additional costs associated with obtaining a hardship license.
Rules and Restrictions
A hardship license is issued to minors in Texas who have demonstrated a specific need to drive before reaching the standard licensing age. However, these licenses come with certain restrictions that must be adhered to in order for the license to remain valid. The most obvious restriction is the fact that hardship license holders may operate a vehicle only as necessary to alleviate the reason why the hardship license was issued in the first place. For example, a person granted a hardship license to attend vocational school may only use the license for the purpose of traveling to and from the school. Using the license for any other non-essential purpose, such as going to a party, is not allowed and can result in penalties. Additionally, if the circumstances that led to the issuance of the hardship license change, such as if the family member's condition improves, the hardship license must not be used and must be surrendered to the Department of Public Safety.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a hardship license?
A hardship license, also known as a minor restricted license, is a type of driver's license that is issued to individuals who meet certain specific criteria and are able to demonstrate that they have a hardship that requires them to drive before they meet the age requirement for a regular driver's license. These licenses typically come with restrictions on when and where the holder can drive, and are intended for use in specific circumstances, such as for transportation to work or school.
What age can you get your license in Texas?
In Texas, the minimum age to apply for a regular driver's license (a provisional license) is 16 years old. However, individuals may be eligible to apply for a hardship license at 15 years old under certain circumstances, such as unusual economic hardship, illness or disability of a family member, death-related emergency, or enrollment in a career and technology or vocational education program.
How to get a hardship license in Texas?
To apply for a hardship license, you must first meet the age requirement of being at least 15 years old but under 18 years old. You must also have a parent or guardian present to sign the application form. Next, you will need to take all of the following documents to a driver's license office: identifying information required for a regular driver's license, the MRDL application, a signed form verifying completion of a Texas driver education program, the Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) form, and proof of hardship such as a signed statement from a doctor or a certification from a school administration. The application must be submitted in person at a DPS office.
Reasons to get a hardship license in Texas?
In Texas, there are four main reasons that can qualify a person for a hardship license: Unusual economic hardship, illness, sickness, or disability of a family member, a death-related emergency, and enrollment in a career and technology or vocational education program requiring a driver license to participate.
Can you drive at 14 in Texas?
No, the minimum driving age in Texas (the age to obtain a learners permit or a minor restricted driver's license) is 15 years old. You can begin taking your Texas driver's education course at the age of 14.
How long does it take to get a hardship license?
The time it takes to obtain a hardship license is the same as obtaining a regular driver's license in Texas. This includes completing the necessary steps such as obtaining a learner's permit, completing a driver's education course, completing the required driving hours, and passing the driving test before being issued the hardship license.