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Hardship Licenses for Teens

Hardship licenses are issued to 14 or 15 year-old teens who qualify for hardship status and are too young to get a normal driver's license. The requirements vary from state to state, and some states do not offer hardship licenses. They are mainly used in rural areas. Hardship licenses also require driver's tests, and taking a DMV practice test can improve your advantage.

The General Requirements for a Hardship License for Teens

The specific criteria for hardship licenses differ by state, but the general requirements include the need to:

  • Drive to and from school- this usually means the school is a specific number of miles away and not just down the street
  • Drive to and from work- there must be a minimum number of working hours
  • Long-term medical reasons- this does not include routine medical visits

The Application Process

Applicants must provide proof of their hardship and give the reasons they need the license. They must also provide proof of school attendance and job verification. In most states, the application will need to be notarized. Applicants will most likely need proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence status and primary and secondary proof of identity.


The restrictions vary by state, but a hardship license does not allow you to drive wherever and whenever you want. There will be destinations that are pre-authorized, and passengers will be limited to only family members. There is also usually a mileage limitation for each drive, but this will also vary by state. The license will also only be valid during daylight hours. In most states, if the driver is driving at unauthorized times, such as after dark, on an unapproved route or with unauthorized passengers, their license can be suspended. A DMV practice test can help a teen driver do well on the tests they will need to pass to qualify for the hardship license. They will need to pass a vision test, a road test and a knowledge test. Taking a DMV practice test will give you an advantage as will reading about the problems other drivers have encountered.