Getting one’s driver’s license is typically one of the most significant and exciting days of a young person’s life. It’s the only time in your life when you are buzzing with excitement to drive your mom’s Champagne 1993 Toyota Camry. In most states, the legal driving age is 16. There are some exceptions, like in NYC, where the driving age is 19. However, in a few states, a young person can get their license at 14, under a set of particular situations.
What do you need to get your driver license?
Typically, you’ll need your learners Permit for a designated length of time that varies from state to state. After that, you take that permit to the DMV and do your driving test. After you do that to the administer’s satisfaction, you get your unfettered freedom – whenever your mom doesn’t need the Camry.
According to The Drive, few states will allow a 14-year-old to get their license. This may seem like every teen’s dream, but the circumstances that lead to this rare type of permit are less than ideal. This type of special license is called a Hardship.
As the name suggests, these licenses are only afforded to young drivers out of less than ideal circumstances. Applicants for this type of license must present a case for why they need to drive. Keep in mind, only 13 states in the U.S. even allow for this license type. So, the window is narrow for who can get these.
Although the reasons why someone may need a hardship license can vary, the main point is that a young person has been burdened with a responsibility that is uncommonly bestowed upon someone of that age. According to The Drive, typical examples include working farm equipment, driving family members to seek regular medical care, or getting to school in areas where school bus service is lacking.
A hardship license is pretty tough to get your hands on
Don’t get any funny ideas about getting your youngster out of the house earlier, as The Drive points out; the hardship license is not given out lightly. Even if you are in one of the 13 states that offer this exception (California, Nevada, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia), the process to get this license is extremely grueling.
Even if you can prove the extent of the responsibilities that require said young person to drive regularly, the H Class comes with many restrictions and extra rules that regular licenses aren’t subject to.
Although states vary on their restrictions, many restrict motorcycles with engines to be no bigger than 125cc. Another major difference between an “H Class” license and a regular license is that H Class drivers can’t drive after dark nor in city centers with a population of more than 500,000 people. According to The Drive, H Class drivers can’t go more than 25 miles from their house. Minnesota only allows these young drivers to operate a vehicle on private farmland. As you can see, this license is far from a loophole to get to drive early.
How many are H Class licenses out there?
Not many. In a call with the folks at The Drive, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said that since 2015 they only issued 98 H Class cards. Meanwhile, Texas only recognizes a total of 293. These kinds of numbers make the hardship class the least issued by the DPS.