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Hardship licenses, also known as Minor Restricted Driver Licenses (MRDL), give early driving privileges to Texas teenagers who seriously need them. You will still need to take a driver education course, get an instruction permit, and meet the same licensing requirements as other teenagers, but you can get a driver license at age 15 instead of 16. In order to qualify, your situation needs to fit one of the following acceptable reasons.

You can get a Texas Hardship License if:

  • Not having a license will result in unusual economic hardship for your family
  • You need a license because a member of your family is ill or disabled
  • You’re enrolled in a vocational program that requires a driver license

If you believe you meet the state requirements, fill out the application (called the DL-77) in ink, ask your parent or guardian to sign it, and get it notarized by a Texas notary. Bring your hardship license application along with all the regular license application items to your local Texas Department of Public Safety office. You may need to include some other documents, such as a doctor’s note or certification from a school program. There’s a section where you can explain in detail why you need to get a Texas driver license and why no one else is available to provide you with transportation.

School activities (like being on a sports team or in the school band) are great, but be warned that the Texas DPS does not consider missing these types of voluntary activities an extreme hardship. Extracurricular activities aren’t a good enough reason for teen drivers to get licensed early. You’ll need to convince the DPS that not being licensed to drive a motor vehicle on your own puts you or your family in a state of hardship.