What is a Virginia Restricted Driver’s License?

Having a suspended license can negatively impact your life in several serious ways. In Virginia, the solution for many is to apply for a restricted driver’s license.

Last updated on October 26th, 2018

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 go over the basics of obtaining a restricted driver’s license in Virginia, while also giving some basic advice for 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, the clerk of the court can give out a “restricted” license. Essentially, you can drive with this license for a few specific court-sanctioned reasons, such as going to work or taking an elderly parent to 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:

4 Months after Conviction

If you’re convicted of a second DUI charge less than 10 years after your first, you may petition the court for a restricted license. Generally this happens 4 months after your conviction.

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.

Clerical Reasons

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. You just need to send some documents to the court that originally suspended or revoked your license. In most cases, this happens directly after your conviction.

Generally, you’ll 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 about the process, you should speak with an experienced criminal lawyer who can walk you thought the process. Filing for a restricted license is simply one step in the criminal process, however it can also be one of the most important for protecting your financial and bodily health.

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