Rhode Island Criminal Defense Lawyer S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq.

Rhode Island Hardship License

Criminal Defense Lawyer S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq.

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Hardship license in Rhode Island

As an experienced DUI defense attorney, I know that being arrested for a DUI charge or a breath test refusal charge is a terrifying experience.  For most folks, the biggest concern is suspension of driver’s license.  And that is with good reason, because any conviction on one of these 2 charges carries a mandatory loss of driving privileges. 

Fortunately, in 2015 the Rhode Island Legislature passed a new law creating hardship licenses which allow a motorist who has been convicted of DUI or a chemical test refusal to operate a motor vehicle to and from work, school or other essential locations (doctor’s appointments as an example) even though their drivers licenses are suspended. 

However, a hardship license is NOT automatic and comes with some strings attached to it.  This is why it is so important to hire an aggressive and experienced DUI defense attorney to navigate you through this complicated process in order to achieve the best results.

Call Rhode Island Hardship License Lawyer S. Joshua Macktaz, Esq. today at (401) 861-1155 for your best defense

Am I Eligible for a Rhode Island Hardship License?

Anyone who has been arrested and charged with first offense drunk driving, or a first offense breathalyzer refusal charge is eligible to obtain a conditional hardship license, and will be successful in obtaining one if represented by the right DUI attorney.  Second time DUI offenders are also eligible for a hardship license, but can have a much harder time obtaining a hardship license from a Judge or Magistrate.  

If the hardship license is granted by the Judge or Magistrate, a motorist can then operate a motor vehicle to and from work, school or other essential location during a specific twelve (12) hour window set forth by the Court, based on the motorist’s schedule.  It is up to your DUI defense attorney to craft the proper request to the Judge to obtain the hardship license.

This hardship license works for a DUI client with the type of job that has regular work hours at regular locations.  But what about if you’re a real estate agent, or house cleaner, or delivery person or anyone else in the many professions which do not have such convenient schedules? 

Can these folks get a hardship license allowing them to operate a motor vehicle while the criminal charges are pending in court?  This is exactly where an experienced RI DUI lawyer separates himself from the vast majority of average criminal defense attorneys. 

I have represented each type of the above-listed people and because of my extensive experience and relationships with Judges and prosecutors, I was able to properly craft a hardship license for each and every one of them.  Check out Hardship License law for more information.

Do I need a Breathalyzer in my car to get the Hardship License from the Judge

The answer is YES.  There can be no hardship license in Rhode Island without the installation of an Ignition Interlock device.  The Ignition Interlock device is essentially a breath test device which you have installed in your motor vehicle by professional installers. 

The motorist is then required to breathe into the breathalyzer device before the engine will start.  If the breathalyzer device detects any amount of alcohol on the motorist’s breath, the engine will not start AND the engine is now locked from starting again until the Ignition Interlock company unlocks the device (for a fee).  

There are numerous locations and businesses which can install the Ignition Interlock Device.  Check out this link to the company I direct many of my DUI and breath test refusal clients to for more information about the device.

Do I need to do anything else for the Hardship License?

Once the Judge or Magistrate grants your hardship license, you then must schedule an appointment at the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for a quick meeting with a hearing officer.  The Rhode Island DMV no longer has a walk-in service, and an appointment must be made online. 

The hearing officer will enter a copy of the Judge’s Order for your hardship license, and a copy of your Ignition Interlock into the DMV computer updating your driving record.  Check out Rhode Island DMV website for more information about appointments.

Your driving record at the DMV will then be immediately updated to reflect you have been granted a hardship license with ignition interlock and you are then free to operate that motor vehicle only based on the parameters ordered by the Judge or Magistrate. 

Once the period of drivers license suspension and hardship license is over, a motorist must schedule a second appointment with a hearing officer at the DMV in order to have a regular drivers license reinstated.  Once the second appointment is over, the motorist can then have the Ignition Interlock removed from the vehicle. 

It is important to note that a DUI offender caught driving a different vehicle or outside the parameters set by the Judge faces arrest, a new criminal offense and a mandatory ten (10) days in jail.  An experienced and detailed oriented criminal defense attorney will help guide you through every step of this complicated process.

Can I get a Hardship License in Rhode Island if I have an out-of-state license?

Absolutely.  When a person is convicted for a DUI or a breath test refusal, the Judge or Magistrate is suspending your privilege to drive in Rhode Island.  The Rhode Island Judge or Magistrate does not have the authority to suspend out-of-state driving privileges. 

I have defended countless out-of-state motorists who have been arrested for DUI or chemical test refusal, and secured hardship license privileges for these deserving clients.  A RI criminal defense lawyer who is experienced and knowledgeable in DUI law will get you back on the road in no time. 

This entire process is made so much easier for you by choosing the best DUI attorney to represent you.  There is NOTHING that I have not seen or defended in 27+ years of practicing criminal law, and this kind of experience simply results in better outcomes in criminal cases.


  • Former Rhode Island State Prosecutor
  • Judges, Lawyers and Police Officers refer family and friends
  • 27+ years of experience in Rhode Island criminal law with a concentration in DUI arrests
  • 300+ Five Star online reviews across all platforms
  • Aggressive, experienced and personal representation of all clients charged with drunk driving
  • My law office has strong and long-standing relationships with all Rhode Island Judges and prosecutors 
  • My goal in every criminal case is DISMISSAL and then EXPUNGEMENT of all charges from your criminal record and driving record.
  • I will be the DUI lawyer reviewing and overseeing your case and I will be the DUI attorney standing next to you in court.  Unlike so many other Rhode Island Criminal Defense firms, I do NOT send associates to do my job.  I am in criminal court every day of the week, and I strongly believe each DUI client deserves this personal service.
  • I copy every client on every single document coming into the law office, or leaving the office, regarding their DUI charges.  I think it is critical for every client to be well-informed and fully engaged in the process.  Defending your criminal DUI case is truly a team effort.
  • All calls and emails will be returned by me, not an associate, within a few hours of receiving the email or call.  
  • I provide a free and comprehensive initial consultation in all new DUI cases.
  • I am available 24/7/365
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