How to Get a Work-Restricted Driver’s License

If your driver’s license has been suspended, you may have heard you can get a restricted license that lets you drive just to certain things like work, doctor appointments, or to take kids to school.

If your driver’s license has been suspended, you may have heard you can get a restricted license that lets you drive just to certain things like work, doctor appointments, or to take kids to school. This kind of license is sometimes called a work-restricted, hardship, or conditional license. Indiana state law calls it Specialized Driving Privileges, but here we’ll just call it a restricted license.

Since the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is where you normally get a driver’s license, you might think that’s where you go to find out how to get a restricted license. But a BMV customer service representative said that because a suspension is usually issued by a court, you will likely have to go back to court to request a restricted license. This means you probably need to seek legal advice, which the BMV does not provide.

What you can do on the BMV website is check your Driver Record. That shows your driving history in the state, including suspensions, violations, and any fees owed to the BMV that you may have to pay to get your license back. You may be able to request that the fees be waived (dropped) when you go to court to get your restricted license. If you click HERE, you can see your record online for free, or you can pay $4 to get an Official Driver Record, which is a certified copy. The BMV website also has some forms you may need, like the Reinstatement Fee Submission Form you can find HERE. If you don’t have a computer, you can call the BMV at 888-692-6841.

LEGAL ADVICE: The best place to get a lawyer for free is Indiana Legal Services (ILS), a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal help to people who can’t afford to hire a private lawyer. You can apply for their services by calling 844-243-8570 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also apply online by clicking HERE.

Stephen Giles, an intake paralegal at ILS, said it’s better to call because if you apply online, they will still have to call you to double-check your information. Even if you have a long wait time on the phone—and wait times for everything in the legal system may be longer during the pandemic—you’ll still save time. But applying online may be the best option for people who can’t call during the day. If ILS determines you qualify for their services, your application is sent to one of their lawyers, who will decide if they can take your case.

One other option for free legal advice is the Indianapolis Bar Association Legal Line at 317-269-2000. They have volunteer lawyers who can answer basic legal questions, but only on the second Tuesday of every month from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Indianapolis Legal Aid Society does not take restricted-license cases, and Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic is not taking new clients until Jan. 4, 2021.

If you can’t get a lawyer from a legal aid service and you can’t afford to hire one, you can represent yourself in court. To do that, you need the right paperwork. IndianaLegalHelp.org has clear instructions and forms HERE. That page answers these questions:

  • What information do I need before I ask the court for a restricted license?
  • How do I ask the court for a restricted license?
  • How do I ask the court to drop the BMV fees for getting my license back?

You can find more helpful information on the Indiana Legal Services website. If you go to this page, titled “My Driver’s License Is Suspended … What Can I Do?,” you’ll learn what to do if:

  • Your suspension was for not paying a traffic ticket
  • Your suspension involves owing money to someone for a traffic accident
  • You think there’s a mistake on your driver record

At the bottom of that page, you’ll find a document you can download titled “My Driver’s License Is Suspended: What If I Need to Drive?” This document covers these subjects:

  • Whether you qualify for a restricted license
  • How to get a restricted license
  • What should be in the paperwork you will present to the court
  • What you must do if you get a restricted license, like keeping a copy of your court order and proof of insurance in your car
  • Special requirements you might have, like an ignition lock that tests your blood alcohol level before the car can be started

If you want to look into hiring a private lawyer, some will give you one free appointment. Be sure to confirm there will be no charge when you make the appointment. One lawyer who will give you a free first appointment is Chris Grider, who used to work for the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society. Grider specializes in traffic law. You can reach him at http://indytrafficattorney.com/ or (317) 637-9000. Do not sign any contracts without confirming what the lawyer will charge you and how you will pay for his or her services.

About the Author

Kathy Maeglin is a talented wordsmith with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, a Bachelor of Science degree in Broadcast News, and an Associate of Arts degree in Journalism.  She has worked for the Indianapolis Business Journal and The Capital Times.