FAQ: Can I get an Occupational Driver’s License?

How can I get around if my driver’s license is suspended?

If your license has been suspended, an attorney can probably help you obtain an occupational driver’s license. This restricted license allows you to drive a non-commercial vehicle up to 12 hours per day, six days per week and is sometimes referred to as an “ODL” or “essential need license.”

With an occupational driver’s license, you can legally drive to fulfill your obligations for work, for school, and to perform essential household duties. The last category is fairly broad and can include activities such as grocery shopping, taking your children to school, taking a household member to the doctor, and so forth.

If you do not work during normal business hours and you are not in a rush then you may be able to save a bunch of money on attorney fees by attempting a D-I-Y occupational drivers license at your local JP court.

Our office can help you get an occupational license if your license was suspended for an offense in Travis County or if you simply live in Travis County and your license was suspended for a violation that occurred elsewhere.

The typical procedure follows:

  1. We will discuss the specifics of your situation then I will prepare and present a petition to the appropriate court, asking the court to grant you an occupational license. You will be required to keep a log of your travels and, depending on the facts of your case, you may be required to attend alcohol counseling or outfit your vehicle with an ignition interlock device.1
  2. You will also be required to purchase SR-22 insurance coverage2 and provide a copy of the certificate to the court. This form certifies both that you have liability insurance3 and that the insurance company will notify DPS if the coverage lapses.
  3. Assuming that the court grants the petition, I will provide you with two copies of the court order granting you an occupational license. You can use one of them to legally drive for 30 days. This should be plenty of time to obtain the official occupational license card from DPS (see the next step below).
  4. You will submit the second copy of the court order to DPS along with the SR-22 certificate, DPS form SR-37, a $10 license fee and, depending on the nature of the suspension, another $100 or $125 reinstatement fee. I can help verify that you have the correct documents and amounts before you submit them to DPS. DPS will then provide you with an occupational license card (sample follows), which you will use for the duration of the suspension.

Sample Occupational License
Texas Occupational Drivers License


Footnotes:

  1. Many Austin-area attorneys include a petition for occupational license for an ALR suspension as part of their representation in defending DWI cases.
  2. If you try to obtain SR-22 coverage from your auto insurance company, it may raise your rates or even cancel your policy. Also, the high-risk tag will be applied to all drivers and vehicles on the policy. If that is a concern, I can refer you to a company that specializes in providing SR-22 coverage. If you buy an SR-22 from someone other than your existing auto insurance company, be sure to purchase an operator’s policy (ie: non-owner’s policy) to avoid triggering the automatic cancellation clause in your existing insurance.
  3. In the event that your auto insurance is cancelled, you may qualify for high-risk coverage through the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association (TAIPA). Unfortunately, the process can be very slow and you are not allowed to choose which insurance company is assigned to your policy. This is a problem for ODL seekers because some of the companies in the pool have a history of cancelling policies when they discover a license suspension.

 

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