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Occupational Driver License
Has your driver license been suspended or perhaps invalidated for non-payment of surcharges? Does this mean that you can no longer legally drive in Texas? Not necessarily! An Occupational Driver License, or temporary driver license, allows you to legally drive, even if your driver license has been suspended. The Law Office of Todd E. Tkach can help you obtain an Occupational Driver License to get you back on the road, legally.
All driver licenses in the State of Texas are issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”). Many people don’t realize that DPS authorizes several types of driver licenses, including Commercial Driver Licenses, Non-Commercial Driver Licenses, Motorcycle Driver Licenses and Occupational Driver Licenses.
Keeping You Driving ... Legally!
What is an Occupational Driver License? This is a special restricted driver license, designed for those who have had their driver licenses suspended. Occupational Driver Licenses are not uncommon but require proof of certain criteria to obtain. The law authorizing Occupational Driver Licenses is a recognition that, for many people, driving is essential and necessary. Especially when you consider the penalties for driving with a suspended driver license.
The penalties for driving without a valid driver license are quite severe. A first conviction for driving with a suspended license is a Class C misdemeanor (the equivalent of a traffic ticket) and carries a high fine and the assessment of surcharges from DPS in the amount of $750.00. If you are stopped a second time for driving while license suspended, the State may file the charge as a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a range of punishment of up to 6 months in jail and/or a $2,000.00 fine.
Who qualifies for an Occupational Driver License? First, you must have held a valid Texas Driver License that was suspended. If you never had a Texas Driver License, you can’t get an Occupational Driver License.
Second, you can’t get an Occupational Driver License is your license was “revoked.” “Revoked” is very different than “suspended.” Revoked means that your driver license was taken from you for a specific reason, such as you are not medically fit to drive, you failed a required DPS exam, or you owe child support. With these conditions, you cannot hold a driver license or an Occupational Driver License until the problem causing the revocation is cured.
Third, you can’t get an Occupational Driver License if you have obtained 2 prior Occupational Driver Licenses in the past 10 years after convictions mandating the suspension of your driver license.
Fourth, you must otherwise qualify for an Occupational Driver License, but for the reason for the suspension.
If you are not excluded by the 4 criteria above, you may petition the court for an Occupational Driver License. You must present to the court proof that you have an “essential need” to drive a motor vehicle. “Essential need” means that you need to drive for work, school or to perform essential household duties.
If you prove an “essential need,” the court may order an Occupational Driver License be issued to you. As stated before, an Occupational Driver License is restricted. The law restricts driving to no more than 4 hours in any 24-hour period, except that on a showing of “necessity” the court may allow you to drive for any period determined by the court that does not exceed 12 hours in any 24-hour period. Additionally, you must identify the counties in which the essential need exists, and you are limited to driving in those counties only.
When can you petition for an Occupational Driver License? For most people, a petition for an Occupational Driver License may be filed immediately after a driver license suspension. However, there are waiting periods under certain circumstances, as follows:
- If your driver license has been suspended in the last 5 years because of a drug or alcohol related enforcement (i.e. you refused to take a breath test), there is a 91-day waiting period;
- If your driver license has been suspended in the last 5 years because of 1 conviction for DWI, Intoxication Assault, or Intoxication Manslaughter, there is a 181-day waiting period; and
- If your driver license has been suspended in the last 5 years because of 2 or more convictions for DWI, Intoxication Assault, or Intoxication Manslaughter, there is a 1 year waiting period.
However, these waiting periods can be waived by the Judge with proof that you have installed an ignition interlock system on your vehicle.
Occupational Driver Licenses are valid for up to 2 years. However, if you are successful with obtaining an order from a court for an Occupational Driver License, you may only legally drive for 45 days, unless and until you file all of the necessary papers with DPS and pay a driver license reinstatement fee and an Occupational Driver License fee. Additionally, any time you drive, you must carry with you, not only the Occupational Driver License issued to you by DPS, but the Order for Occupational Driver License issued by the court. Failure to do either is a Class B misdemeanor.
If your driver license has been suspended, but you need to drive, call us as soon as possible. There are many hoops to jump through and hurdles to overcome to get an Occupational Driver License. We know the substantive laws, the procedure and how to complete the necessary paperwork to obtain an Occupational Driver License. Don’t go-it-alone! Call us now to talk with one of our representative about getting your Occupational Driver License today!