Obtaining an Occupational Drivers License in Texas
This is a brief summary of the steps necessary to file for and obtain an Occupational Drivers License in Texas.
Determine Drivers License eligibility statusThis is a simple step that helps to determine where you're at in the process. The information you'll need to log-in to the system include your Driver License/ ID Number, date of birth and the last 4 digits of your social security number. You can use this information to see the status of surcharges, pay fees and see the status of your license. The link is provided below.
Do you have a waiting period before you can become eligible for an Occupational License?There are three levels of waiting periods. To determine which category you fall into, you need to know both the current reason for suspension and prior suspension history. The three levels of waiting periods are as follows:
(1) 90 day waiting period.
(2) 180 day waiting period.
(3) 365 day waiting period.
The factors that go into determining which waiting period (if any) applies to your situation is dependent upon any previous ALR Suspension(s) or Conviction Suspension(s) that occurred in the five years preceding the arrest. Typically, these waiting periods apply to intoxication offenses and the suspensions associated with said suspensions.
Figure out where to File the PetitionYou can file a Petition for an Occupational Drivers License in Justice of the Peace Court, County Clerk's office, or the District Clerk's office. There are different filing fees for each court. Factors that determine which court is the best route to take include if there is a criminal case pending/concluded in the matter, whether the suspension is for an intoxication type of offense, and where you live. The fees for filing in each is different, with the Justice of the Peace being significantly less expensive than the County and District Clerk.
Typically, the Petition will be filed either in the Clerk's office where there is a pending/resolved criminal charge or in the jurisdiction where you reside.
Petition ContentsBreaking down the purpose of a Petition versus an Order, the Petition is what you're asking the Court to do and the reasons why, while the Order is what the Court is authorizing/telling you what to do. In a Petition for an Occupational License, you need to explain the "essential need" for the occupational license. For example, this would be the portion where you outline that you have to pick up and drop off kids at school, go to work, attend religious functions, go to the grocery store, and discuss the areas you will be driving in, specifically, the Counties.
If you are asking for more than 4 hours of driving time per day, you have to outline the essential need for the extension beyond the 4 hour period.
In addition to outlining why you need an Occupational License, you have to swear to it and have it be notarized.
With respect to the actual Petition itself, oftentimes you can obtain a copy of a Petition from the Court or Clerk's office where you file Petitions. This can be an invaluable tool in making sure your Petition meets the requirements of the specific Court that you're filing it in.
Additional Documentation to file with PetitionIn addition to the Petition you file, there is a requirement that you include a copy of the Petitioner's Driving Record. The link to where you request that from can be found below. The information you'll need to log-in to the website are the Petitioner's Driver License Number, Date of Birth, Last 4 Digits of their Social Security Number, and the DPS Audit Number found on the Petitioner's Drivers License. Different jurisdictions require different records, but the link provided allows for you to either print your record to provide with your Petition or request a physical copy be mailed to you from DPS.
In addition to the Driver's Record, there must be a copy the "Safety Responsibility Form 22." It is otherwise known as an SR-22. To obtain this, contact your insurance agent to see if your policy provides for this. If you can't get an SR-22 from your insurance company, you'll need to call around to other agents.
In addition to these Documentary requirements for a Petition for an Occupational License, Courts have discretionary requirements for Proof of Employment, Proof of School Enrollment, Maps, etc. To find out what specific, unique requirements the jurisdiction where you file for an Occupational License, contact the office and ask for any specific requirements.
HearingEach Court is different in their requirements for a hearing, but the primary purposes of the hearing include ensuring all of the proper paperwork has been filed with the case, to examine whether there is an essential need for an Occupational License, and to ensure that all of the specific, unique jurisdictional requirements are met.
In some instances, an Attorney for the State of Texas has to be notified of the hearing. It is not a requirement that an Attorney represent the Petitioner. In fact, there is no statutory requirement that a hearing actually occur. It is discretionary with the Courts whether or not to set a hearing.
Order for Occupational LicenseThe order must specify the hours and days of the week when a person may drive, the reasons why they're driving, areas and/or routes that are being driven, whether an interlock device is required as a condition of the Occupational License, and whether there is a requirement for alcohol or drug testing.
After the Court signs the Order, it is the responsibility of the Petitioner to make sure a certified copy of the Order and Petition is forwarded to DPS, along with any fees. The address that said Order and Petition is to be mailed to is: Texas DPS, P.O. Box 15999, Austin, Texas 78761-1599. The fee that must be forwarded to Austin is $10.00 for one year or $20 for a two year order.
In the time between when the Certified copy of the Order and Petition are mailed in, the physical, signed copy of the Order serves as your Occupational License, and that is good for 30 days.