What Happens at a Hardship Hearing with the Florida Bureau of Administrative Review in Tampa, FL?

I recently attended a hardship hearing at the Florida Bureau of Administrative Review office in Tampa, FL, in Hillsborough County. These hardship hearings can occur after an administrative suspension for a first DUI that might last for 6 months or for a permanent lifetime revocation after a fourth DUI, or anything else in between.

I thought it might be helpful to share information about what happens during a typical hardship hearing. The goal of the hearing is obtaining a class C business purposes hardship license or a class D employment purposes hardship license.

The hearing officers use a script known as the “Hearing Officer Report / Script HSMV 78302 S” last revised October of 2006. My client and I go over the script before the hearing so they know what to expect. Although an attorney can attend the hearing, the hearing officer will tell the attorney not to make any statements or participate in the hearing once it begins. 

During the hearing, the hearing officer will read from the script and fill it out. The report will be placed in the subject’s file and serve as a summary of what occurred at the hearing. The hearing itself is audio recorded.

So, what happens after you request a hardship hearing?

The hearing officer will greet you. The hearing officer will inform you that the hearing will be recorded before turning on the tape recorder. After the recording begins, the hearing officer will read from the script:

I am ___[name of hearing officer], HSMV Field Hearing Officer. This hearing is regarding the suspension / revocation for ___[type of suspension or revocation], with effective date of _______, with an expiration date of ______.

During the opening remarks, the hearing officer will say the following:

The hearing today is an informal proceeding of an administrative nature, therefore, judicial procedures do not apply. Florida Statute 322.271 gives the department the authority to conduct your hardship hearing. This hearing allows you and the department an opportunity to evaluate your driving record and to determine whether a hardship license should be granted.

Before we begin this hearing, I must place you under oath. Please raise your right hand. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. For the record, please state your full name, date of birth and your current address.

The hearing officer will then ask any witness, criminal defense attorney, or interpreter in the room to identify himself or herself for the record. Then, the hearing officer will ask a series of questions so that he or she can fill out his or her report. Those questions might include the following:

  1. What is your date of birth?
  2. What is your race?
  3. What is your sex?
  4. Are you married?
  5. If so, is your spouse employed?
  6. Are you a U.S. citizen?
  7. Do you have a license in your possession? [If so, the hearing officer will ask you to turn it over since you are not supposed to possess a driver’s license if your driving privileges have been revoked or suspended.]
  8. Are you employed?
  9. What days do you work, and what hours do you work on each day?
  10. What is your occupation?
  11. What is the name and address of your employer?

The hearing officer will then note whether he or she has checked the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) and Comprehensive Case Information System (CCIS), offered by Florida’s Clerks of Court.

The hearing officer will also note the following:

  1. the number of previous hearings;
  2. the number of previous conviction;
  3. whether a traffic crash occurred;
  4. the number of previous suspensions; and
  5. the number of previous revocations.

The hearing officer will then review the subject’s driving record and discuss current and past violations on the transcript. The hearing officer will also inform the subject of the consequences resulting from future or similar violations (such as points, revocations, suspensions, or designation as a habitual traffic offender).

Out of State Revocation or Suspension Issues

In many cases, the subject might have another suspension or revocation in another state or country that is not showing up on the Florida driver’s license. If the subject does not want to disclose this information to the hearing officer, he or she should not request a hardship hearing. In some cases, it might be best to forgo the hardship hearing and wait to reinstate the license until after the suspension is over.

Questions related to any out-of-state revocation or suspension would include:

  1. Have you ever been licensed in another state or country?
  2. If yes, what state or country were you in when the revocation or suspension occurred?

Be aware that if that revocation or suspension is not showing up on the driving record, then the hearing officer will take steps to request that the out-of-state revocation or suspension be added to the Florida driving record.

Revocations or Suspensions that are Alcohol-Related, including DUI

For suspensions or revocations that are alcohol-related, the hearing officer will ask the following questions:

  1. Have you ever been convicted of an alcohol-related offense in any other state?
  2. Has your privilege to drive ever been suspended or revoked in any other state or country?
  3. If so, for what reason?
  4. Do you have any violations / convictions / revocations / suspensions that have not been mentioned?
  5. If so, what are they?
  6. Do you understand what caused the revocation / suspension of your driving privilege?
  7. Were you incarcerated as a result of this revocation / suspension of your driving privileges?
  8. If so, what was the date of your release? [For purposes of determining your eligibility for a hardship license, some time periods do not begin until after the subject is released from incarceration.]
  9. What did you learn in the ADI / DUI School?
  10. How can you prevent future violations from occurring? [Don’t drive without a license and don’t drink alcohol].
  11. What are your driving needs? [work, school, church, doctor, grocery store]
  12. How did you get here today? [The hearing officers will often watch everyone that pulls into the parking lot. If you drive to the hearing they will know. Don’t drive to a nearby parking lot and walk over. Do not drive to the hearing.]
  13. How many licensed drivers are in your household?
  14. How have your driving needs been met since your suspension / revocation?
  15. When was the last time you operated a motor vehicle? [If you have a permanent revocation and you drove on that revocation during the last five years then you are NOT eligible for a hardship. If you have a DUI suspension and drove during the suspension, then you will not be eligible for a hardship.]
  16. For what reason did you operate a motor vehicle?

At this point, the hearing officer might discuss any F.R. (financial responsibility) Suspension. The hearing officer might also note whether the subject has a good or bad attitude (so make sure you have a “good attitude”).

The form also says “M/O’s (Multiple DUI Offenders) ONLY:

When was the last time you consumed any type of alcoholic beverage or controlled substance?”

The bottom part of the form notes whether the D300 was issued, the date issue, who it was approved through, and whether the database was updated.

The hearing officer will then note whether the person is eligible for:

C = Business Purposes
D = Employment Purposes
Y = Educational Purposes

The hearing officer will then: 

  • indicate whether the subject failed to submit, whether the request was denied, the reason, and the reconsideration date;
  • talk with the subject about any requirement for the ignition interlock device and other conditions required by DUI special supervision services (if applicable); and
  • note whether the person has completed ADI, DUI School or another requirement, the completion date or the enrollment date. 

The bottom of the form also has a section for comments on the amount paid for the reinstatement or license fee. Finally, the form has a place for the hearing officer to sign.

Disclaimer: This article, written on Tuesday, August 11, 2015, explains what might happen at a hardship hearing for a business purpose class C or employment purpose class D hardship license at the Florida Bureau of Administrative Review office in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL. Similar procedures might be used at the other BAR offices throughout the State of Florida. This article is for educational purposes only. If you need legal advice, then contact a qualified DUI Defense Attorney in Florida to discuss your case.



  1. I have had one hearing, I was denied because I was not currently employed even though becoming employed would be a lot easier if I could drive to potential jobs. Have been unable to get a definite answer to when I can return for another hearing. So if you are going to have a hearing, be legitimately employed when you have it.

  2. Disabled looking for hardship license need because of peripheral artery disease in legs. DUI charges dropped have refusal of breathylizer. Need for doctor civil court and groceries. Had Dui in 1996 22 years ago in w Virginia later in Florida had to serve 6 month suspension for this w Virginia dui was done. Only on infraction in Florida of not stopping at weigh station because my employer at that time told me not to. Am i getting a hardship DL

  3. I have been doing my homework on HTO 5 yr. revocation procedures and laws in reference to getting a hardship license. Your websites have helped me more than any others I have read. My situation is different than most. I have never had an actual DL. But, have been to prison for DWLS Habitual, twice now. I have not driven since 2016, the 2nd time I was sent to prison. I made a decision that it just wasn’t worth it. Like I said, I’ve never had an actual DL but have racked up driving offenses in a dozen at least counties starting from Miami Dade county all the way up to Jacksonville. So you could imagine the fines I owe. I would like to know when I go to this BAR hearing in Tampa, what should I expect? Will they have expected me to pay all the fines prior to my appt? I already completed the ADI course and received my certificate. I am employed by a family member, and have not received any charges since 2016,. The 5 years is up in 2021, for HTO, FR & controlled Substance substance revocations. But the 2 years for the Controlled Substance revocation has passed in back in Aug 2018.If possible could you give me any advice? Maybe answer a few of my concerns, and even your opinion if possible. I hope to hear back soon. If not, I still would like to thank you and your team because I learned quite a few things since I stumbled upon your website. I wish I was the financial resources were in the positive, because I would choose your team to have my back, for sure!

  4. How long does it take to have a hearing for a hardship license after both the ADI Course has been completed and a hearing request has been submitted?

  5. Referring to question 9 how would a person answer that or what do you say in-depth to the hearing officer when asked????…having a hearing coming up and just wanted to know me best answer or phrase they might be looking for or wanting me to say or key words

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