If you rely on driving to get to and from your job, having a suspended license can really hurt.
Losing your driving privileges can seriously impact your ability to work, which can then snowball into further problems down the line.
In Virginia, the solution for many is to apply for a restricted driver’s license.
This article will quickly cover the basics of obtaining a restricted driver’s license in Virginia. We’ll also give some basic advice about what you can do with your new license.
What is a Restricted Driver’s License?
In Virginia, the court can revoke or suspend your driver’s license for a wide variety of reasons. However, the court also doesn’t want to put undue burdens on people that might affect their health or employment.
For this reason, you can petition the court for a “restricted” license until your formal license suspension is over.
Essentially, you can use this license to drive to and from a few specific court-sanctioned locations, such as work, school, or the hospital.
By issuing these licenses, the court can punish people who break the law while also not seriously impacting their livelihood.
Who is Eligible?
The DMV has a list of crimes which allow you to apply for a restricted license. In general, you may apply either on or after the date of your conviction.
Most of these crimes relate to traffic crimes such as DUIs, possession crimes such as minor marijuana offenses, or clerical reasons such as not paying court fines.
Different crimes also have different waiting periods to apply for a restricted license.
If the court convicts or finds you not innocent of the following crimes, you’ll lose your license.
You can then apply for a restricted license after a certain amount of time.
At the Time of Conviction
You can petition for a restricted license directly after your conviction for the following crimes and infractions:
- First offense driving under the influence (DUI) charges
- Reckless driving
- Speed and aggressive driving
- Illegal possession of alcohol
- Illegal consumption of alcohol
- Drug violations
4 Months after Conviction
If you’re convicted of your second DUI charge in 10 years, you can still apply for a restricted license. However, you’ll have to wait until at least 4 months after your conviction to submit your application.
1 Year after Conviction
If your second DUI happens less than 5 years after your first, you must wait for at least a year before applying for a restricted license.
3 Years after Conviction
The court may also grant you a restricted license 3 years after conviction if you are convicted (or found not innocent) of the following crimes:
- Any third offense DUI
- Serious repeat DUI offenders (three DUIs within 10 years)
- Injury to another resulting from a DUI
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from a DUI
- Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter resulting from driving a motor vehicle
Habitual offenders may also apply for a restricted driver’s license after 3 years.
If you fail to pay court fines or other associated costs, you can also apply for a restricted license. In addition, those found driving with a suspended or revoked license of up to 90 days may also apply.
How to Apply
Applying for a restricted drivers license is actually quite simple.
In most cases, you’ll have to go to the clerk of the court and ask them for a restricted license by turning over your normal license and filling out some paperwork.
You’ll also need to prove that you actually need a restricted license for a valid reason, such as proof that you couldn’t keep your job without a license.
The judge will then review and approve your application.
However, remember that the court has no actual obligation to give you a restricted license.
They treat driving as a privilege, and can refuse your application for any number of reasons.
Even if your license is revoked or suspended after a conviction, you can still apply for a restricted license if you have a valid excuse for why you need to drive.
A restricted license allows you to drive to certain authorized locations such as work or school.
If you’re still unsure about the process, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can walk you through the process.