How to Apply for a Restricted License in California

by Mary Jane Freeman

If your California license was taken away for violating a traffic law, such as driving under the influence or driving without insurance, you can apply for a restricted license if you're eligible. With a restricted license, you won't be able to drive anywhere you want or anytime you want, but it will allow you to legally drive for specific tasks like going to and from work. To get one, you must submit an application to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Restricted License

A California restricted license limits the holder's driving privileges in specific ways. Depending on individual circumstances, **this can restrict** where a driver can operate a vehicle or days and times when he can do so. A restricted license can allow a driver to operate a vehicle only if it is equipped with a particular device, such as an ignition interlock device that prevents a driver from starting his car if the attached breathalyzer detects alcohol in his system.

Suspension Reason

Whether or not you are eligible for a restricted license depends in large part on why your license was suspended in the first place. [Suspension]( typically occurs if a driver is mentally or physically unable to drive, has driven negligently, lacked car insurance at the time of an accident, failed to pay child support, drove while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or didn't pay a ticket or show up to court to handle it. Visit your local DMV or call (800) 777-0133 to determine if you're eligible to apply for a restricted license based on the individual circumstances of your case.

Application and Fees

If eligible, submit an application for a restricted license to the DMV. Forms are available from the DMV's website. If your license was suspended because of lack of insurance, for example, submit an [Application for Non-Commercial Restricted Driver License for Financial Responsibility Actions]( You also must pay a $55 reissue fee and $250 penalty fee, and submit a SR-22 showing you now have insurance.


If you don't qualify for a restricted license, you must wait out your suspension and then reinstate your license to legally drive again. The steps required to do so depend on the suspension reason. For instance, if you were suspended for being a negligent driver, you must pay a [reissue fee]( and court fines, complete probation without a traffic ticket or accident, and submit proof of insurance. Once reinstated, you can drive throughout the state without limitation.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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