As is true across the country, Texas places an age limit on who can obtain a driver license and operate a vehicle on its streets. In general, teen drivers must be at least 18 years old in order to receive a driver’s license outright.

Most Texas drivers agree with this safety regulation. The belief is that waiting until someone is mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving privileges is best for all.

However, exceptions exist. Some young people deserve a chance to prove their abilities to receive a driver license earlier than usual. Life circumstances and problems are no respecters of age. A 15-year-old can find themselves the virtual head of a household and need a drivers license, for example. To make things easier for these minors, the Texas Department of Public Safety created the Texas Hardship License.

The process for getting such a minor restricted driver license is not as difficult as one may initially believe. Following is the information needed to apply.

What is a hardship license?

The Minor Restricted Driver License (MRDL) is the official name for what most call the Texas “hardship” license. This permit allows a minor, of at least age 15, to practice defensive driving without the presence of an adult, if doing so has been proven to be a necessity. It is a driver license with restrictions.


To be eligible for a hardship license the teen must fall into one or more of these categories.

1. Without the teen being able to drive, the family would suffer from an unusual economic hardship that prevents it from enjoying the basic necessities of life.

2. There is an ill family member who the teen must drive to receive medical care and other life needs.

3. The teen is a student in a certified vocational school.

4. The teen must temporarily perform head of household duties; for example, following the death of a family member.

Before the state will grant an unusual economic hardship license and honor a teen driving privileges, the applicant has to complete a Texas motorcycle or driver education course.

Proving Hardship

The authorities will need some evidence of actual hardship before granting this specialized driver license. Earnings statements demonstrating a financial burden that only the minor can solve can help. Proof of gainful employment and a salary that can provide significant support for the family is another crucial piece of evidence.

Sworn or on-person statements by employers, school officials and social workers are other possible means to persuade the state of the need for a hardship license.

Hardship License Application Process

To apply, take all of the following to a driver`s license office:

1. All identifying information required of regular full operator license applications as stated here: regular licensing requirements.

2. Parent or guardian.

3. MRDL application.

4. Signed form verifying completion of Texas driver education program.

5. Impact Texas Teen Drivers (ITTD) form.

Always remember that a parent or guardian must sign the application form along with the minor applicant. Afterwards, submit the completed application in person with the the parent or guardian at the nearest state motor vehicle office. In cases where the teen does not have a parent or guardian, a county judge or even employer can stand in their behalf.
So, how old do you have to be to get a hardship license in Texas?

15 years old is the youngest age in which a Texas license office will grant teen drivers a hardship license. However, it is possible to apply for early enrollment in the required Texas driver training class when only 14 years old.


The fees are standard, ranging from $16 to $25.

Driving Restrictions

Teens with a hardship license cannot partake in defensive driving whenever and wherever they want like they could with a regular Texas driver license. Since the state issues these permits based on claimed necessity, the minor must only use this restricted license when performing duties related to the specified familial or individual hardship.

For example, someone granted a Texas hardship license to attend vocational school cannot be legally on the road alone heading to a party. Also, if living conditions change, then the teen driver must not use the hardship license or they can face legal penalties.