What Is A Restricted License And How Does It Work?

Anyone convicted of a Virginia DWI will automatically have their license suspended for a period of at least one year.  This is mandated by state law and cannot be reduced.  The period may be even longer than a year if someone already has a previous DWI on their record.  However, in many circumstances a person convicted is eligible for a Restricted License.  A Restricted license allows a person convicted of DWI to drive for certain limited purposes during that license suspension period.

 A restricted license allows a person to drive for certain limited purposes. The only allowable purposes are:

  1. Work,
  2. ASAP meetings,
  3. School,
  4. Doctor’s appointments,
  5. Transport children to school/daycare/doctors/court ordered visitation,
  6. Meetings with Probation,
  7. Church services,
  8. To go to jail to serve a sentence.

In order to get a restricted license a person must first complete an application.  The application requires a person to list their address and the address of their work, school and other places that are to be included on the application.  A judge then reviews the application and approves or denies the locations requested.  After approval, the clerk’s office will prepare what is commonly referred to as a “green sheet.”

The actual process for getting a “green sheet” from the clerk varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.   Some jurisdictions will allow an individual to obtain one right after court, others may require a few days wait time.  However, in all circumstances the form will require a signature from the Defendant’s ASAP sponsor.

The “green sheet” will then become the individual’s driver’s license for the next twelve months.  It is required that the driver keep the form with them at all times when they are driving.  The sheet specifically states the locations, times and places that a person is allowed to drive.  Failure to comply with the terms of the restricted license can result in severe penalties.  Additionally, a person driving on a restricted license is not allowed to have consumed any alcohol whatsoever.  This may violate a condition of the person’s probation as well.  Instead of the .08 BAC limit typically used for DWI cases, a person driving on a restricted license breaks the law if they have a BAC of .02 or above.

When the judge initially suspends a person’s license the court confiscates the plastic license.  The Defendant will then need to go to DMV and get a new plastic license.  The DMV will not be able to accommodate a request for a new license until at least 30 days after the suspension in court.  The DMV will also not accommodate a request more than 60 days after court.  This effectively means that the only window to get a new license is between 30 and 60 days after court.  Failure to apply before the 60 day deadline will possibly invalidate the “green sheet” and erase an individual’s restricted privileges.

Virginia code 18.2-272 regulates the use of restricted licenses.  The law makes it illegal for a person to drive for any reason not specifically authorized by a judge.  Combined with the limited scope of allowable driving under the DWI laws and life under a restricted license can be very difficult.  For example, a person on a restricted license cannot drive to the grocery store, or to the movies, or to a fast food restaurant.

A violation of 18.2-272 is a Class 1 misdemeanor.  That is the same category as the initial DWI and is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2500.  It is common for first time violators to receive a suspended sentence and avoid active jail time as punishment.  However, upon conviction of a violation, the DMV will suspend a person’s drivers license for an additional period of 12 months.  Additionally, all restricted license privileges will be revoked and the person will not be eligible to receive one during that period.  Effectively, a conviction for violating 18.2-272 means that a person will not be able to drive to work, or school, or anywhere for the next 12 months.  It is such a potentially severe punishment that it should deter anyone from taking a risk and driving outside of their allowable locations.

Driving on a restricted license can be complicated and tedious.  For many people the worst part of a DWI conviction is the loss of license.  Having a restricted license can be beneficial in that it allows many people to still get to work, or school and to take care of their families and children.  However, it is imperative that it be done correctly.  For example, if a person moves or changes jobs and doesn’t update their forms, they are technically in violation of the law and may be facing a 12 month absolute suspension.

Because the stakes are so high, it is important that you communicate with your lawyer and make sure any changes are reflected on your green sheet.  At the Rosenthall Law Office we are aware of how important driving is for most people.  We also realize how essential it is to update the restricted license application.  That is why we always assist in updating restricted licenses for our DWI clients as part of the initial retainer agreement.