Frequently Asked Questions about Texas Occupational Driver's Licenses
At the Saputo Law Firm, we have handled hundreds of occupational driver's licenses across the state of Texas. This is a list of the most frequently asked questions and answers to those questions.
Am I eligible for an Occupational License?You are eligible for an occupational license in Texas if your has been suspended for a cause other than a physical or mental disability. It really is that simple. It does not matter whether you have outstanding surcharges, unpaid tickets or 10 DWI convictions. So long as you don't have an active suspension related to a physical or mental disability, then you are eligible.
If your license is also revoked or expired, then you will have to handle the revocation or expiration separately. If you have an out of state license, this does not prohibit you from getting a Texas occupational license. With an out of state license, Texas can still suspend your privilege to obtain a Texas driver's license or your nonresident operator's privilege. So getting an occupational license would allow you to obtain these privileges back.
Of course, just because you are eligible does not mean that you definitely will receive an occupational license. However, in our practice, denial is extremely rare.
You can find out whether your lciense is suspended by visiting the Texas Driver's License Eligibility website. It's in the links below for your convenience.
How much does it cost?In order to get the occupational license, you will have to pay the filing fee. This fee varies depending on where you file the petition, but in county courts the filing fee is generally around $250. It is usually less expensive to file in a JP court, but we do not usually recommend filing in JP courts for various reasons.
You will also need to obtain an SR-22 certificate. The costs on these vary as well. There are some very important things that you need to know about SR-22 certificates before you purchase one, however. This is a question that does not get asked frequently, but should be. We have provided a link below for you to learn more about SR-22.
Most counties require you to obtain a certified abstract of your driving record. This costs $22. We have also provided a link to ordering the driving record online.
You will also have to have the petition notarized. We do this for free, but some notaries charge a small fee for this service.
After the judge has signed the order, you will need to get two certified copies of the order. Some counties (such as Travis County) charge a small fee for certified copies. This fee is usually around $20.
When you mail once copy of the certified order to DPS, you will also need to enclose a check for $10 as the occupational license fee. In addition, you may have to pay a license reinstatement fee. You can find out what your license reinstatement fee is on the license eligiblity website link below.
We STRONGLY suggest you hire a lawyer to adivse you on this process and draft all of your paperwork. It will save you much in the way of time and hassle. There are also many costly mistakes you can make and "tricks of the trade" that will help you get the most out of your occupational license. I have seen lawyer fees range between $250 - $1500.
How long does it take?There are four steps to get your occupational license.
First, draft all of the documents and obtain all of the necessary paperwork. You will need a notarized Petition that meets all of the requirements of the occupational driver's license statute (and the local judge's and clerk's rules), an Order that meets all of the same rules, the SR-22 certificate, the certified abstract (in most counties), and possibly proof of interlock installation and other evidence of your essential driving needs. Some counties require additional paperwork. How long this takes you to put together is entirely up to you (and your attorney). We are able to obtain all of this for our clients in as little as one day.
Next, you will need to file all of this. Some counties allow us to e-file everything, so this step is instant. Other counties require filing in person, so that requires a trip to the courthouse. If you are filing on your own, you will have to visit the courthouse.
Once the petition has been filed, the court will set a hearing date and time. Some counties will have a hearing on the same date as filing (Dallas County, for example), but other counties will set the hearing date out a week or more in advance.
Once you have the hearing and the judge signs the order, you can drive with the occupational license as soon as you get the certified copy from the clerk. However, this paper copy is only good for 45 days. After that, you will need the plastic occupational license from DPS.
How many hours can I drive?You can drive for as little as four hours to as many as twelve hours with an occupational driver's license. The judge will make the ultimate determination as to how many hours you will be allowed to drive based on the evidence that you submit regarding your essential needs. Note that there are special requirements in asking for more than four hours, however. You should speak with an attorney regarding these requirements.
An essential need, under Texas state law, means a need of a person for the operation of a motor vehicle: (A) in the performance of an occupation or trade or for transportation to and from the place at which the person practices the person's occupation or trade; (B) for transportation to and from an educational facility in which the person is enrolled; or (C) in the performance of essential household duties.
However, there are no any time of travel, reason for travel, or location of travel restrictions on interlock occupational licenses.
Am I required to have an interlock to get an occupational license?There are two general categories of occupational licenses, interlock occupational driver's licenses and no-interlock licenses. As of September 2015, the law is clear with respect to the circumstances under which an interlock is required as a condition of an occupational license. The only time that an occupational driver's license requires an interlock is if the person's license has been suspended after a conviction of an offense under Sections 49.04-49.08, Penal Code (these are the DWI-related laws).
If the license has not been suspended after a DWI-related conviction, then no interlock is required. It is important to note that the interlock restriction only applies to conviction suspensions, not DWI arrest-related suspensions. So if the license has been suspended because of a breath test failure or refusal to give a blood sample, for instance, and there is no conviction to date, then the interlock requirement does not apply.