Who is eligible for occupational license?
Only those who are employed?
What the law says is that you must have an essential need that requires transportation and that no public transportation is reasonably available. Thus, if you need to transport your children to school or to afterschool activities then you may be eligible for an occupational license even if you are unemployed. The law also takes into account other “essential needs” such as medical treatment, education, and grocery shopping.
A lot of folks call this a hardship license and this is probably an easier way to understand what is a valid purpose for seeking this type of drivers license. Someone who has their license suspended for having too many points for speeding tickets or for a DWI and is working is most often the person who needs a hardship license.
So, what’s the catch?
First of all, occupational licenses do not grant the ability to drive a commercial vehicle. So if you are, for example, a bus or freight driver, you will not be able to use your occupational license for this job-related purpose.
Frequently Texas judges also put additional restrictions and requirements on an occupational license which may include, but is not limited to, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, installation of an interlock device, submission to any request by law enforcement for a breath test, and/or avoidance of further traffic violations for a specific period of time.
One should be aware that there are limits on the number of occupational licenses an individual can obtain in a five year period; generally the limit is two. Refusal or failure of a breath test can result in your need for multiple occupational licenses for just one DWI arrest. This happens because our Metroplex area courts have both a county criminal court which has jurisdiction over the criminal portion of the offense and a county court at law which has jurisdiction over the failure of the breath test itself. Although failure of a breathalyzer test can result in license suspension, the penalty for failure is civil—and not criminal—in nature. This is an important limitation if one is involved in a second DWI arrest or has a previous DWI arrest.
In the state of Texas, obtaining an occupational license requires two steps:
1) You go before a judge who may grant an occupational license. (This is the step that as a lawyer I could help you with.) Given that the license is granted, the court order itself will serve as a temporary 30 day license. Licenses may not be granted for more than two years at a time.
2) Within this 30 day time frame, you must submit several documents to the Texas Department of Motor vehicles which will issue the actual occupational license. Documents you must submit include the certified copy of the petition, the certified court order granting the occupational license, and an original pink SR-22 certificate of insurance. You must also include payment toward the occupational license fee for a one-year license or less. Others may need to include a statutory reinstatement fee for Safety Responsibility suspension, Driver Improvement suspension, and/or Administrative License Revocation (ALR) as well.
As you can see, the process of obtaining an occupational license can take some time, effort, and money. But if you have committed an offense that would normally result in the loss of your license, there are legal remedies available which can protect your economic and personal autonomy.
The information presented above is solely the expressed opinion of attorney Clifford M. Womack, and not intended to substitute for obtaining professional legal advice or counsel. Please do not hesitate to