What is a "Restricted Driver's License" and How do I Get One?

January 20, 2015

What is a

In Tennessee, a person who is convicted of a charge of Driving Under the Influence - First Offense,  Driving Under the Influence - Second Offense, a Violation of the Implied Consent Law or a variety of other offenses (Underage Alcohol Consumption, Drag Racing, etc.) has their Tennessee driver’s license automatically revoked when they are convicted of that offense.

But all hope is not lost! Under Tennessee law a person convicted of these crimes can apply for a Restricted Driver’s License which would allow them legally drive - with certain restrictions - even after being convicted of DUI or an Implied Consent violation.

The first step in the process is getting a judge to sign an order stating to the Department of Safety that you are eligible for a Restricted Driver’s License. This is usually done by the judge that you were in front of when you were convicted of the offense that revoked your driver’s license but it doesn’t have to be. Timing is important because that order is only good for ten days from the time it’s issued.

As part of that order the judge will decide whether you can get your Restricted Driver’s License to drive a car that has an ignition interlock device only or whether you’ll only be allowed to drive to and from certain places such as from your home to work or school and back. Whether you have to have the interlock device in your car or whether you can only drive certain places (the law calls them “geographic restrictions”) will probably depend on the underlying facts of your case, the position the Assistant D.A. takes on it and the policies of the judge you’re seeking the order from. There are drawbacks and benefits to both.  Some people may not be eligible even if they are only convicted of DUI 1st or DUI 2nd because of a prior offense on their record.  Having an attorney on your side who can advise you on what’s right for you  - and then advocate what’s best for you in front of the judge – is key to a successful outcome at this stage.

Once you get the judge’s order you also need to have an SR-22 statement. This is a statement that you have insurance and that the insurance provider knows about your recent loss of ability to drive. Many insurance companies have this kind of policy but the company has to be a licensed carrier in Tennessee so make sure you ask before you sign. It is also usually quite expensive because insurance companies – fairly or unfairly – consider you a higher risk for liability because of your recent driving infraction.

Getting a Restricted Driver’s License takes time and it is always recommended to use the skills of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to help you accomplish your goals. Before you consider pleading guilty to a DUI offense or Implied Consent violation, ask about the possibility of getting a Restricted Driver’s License before you plead to any offense.

The attorneys of MMRS Law are well versed in these procedures and they know both the statutes and the judges who sign the orders. They stand ready to assist you through this difficult process no matter what it takes.