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Eligibility to Get an Occupational/Restricted Use License in Texas

Updated: Feb 7, 2023 @ 8:58 pm

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Has your Texas driver’s license been suspended? You may still be eligible to receive limited driving privileges under what is known as an Occupational Driver’s License. This is a restricted license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety on the order of a local judge. An Occupational Driver’s License allows the holder to operate a non-commercial vehicle for certain specified purposes, such as commuting to work, going to school, or performing necessary household errands.

Disqualified Due to Mental or Physical Disability

Not everyone may apply for an Occupational Driver’s License. If your license has been suspended for medical reasons—that is, the Texas Department of Public Safety has determined that you have a physical or mental disability that makes it unsafe for you to drive—then you are also barred from seeking an Occupational Driver’s License. In such cases, you must seek reinstatement of your regular license through DPS procedures dealing with medical revocation.

Mandatory Waiting Period Following DWI Conviction

You also cannot apply for an Occupation Driver’s License immediately following a conviction for DWI or a related offense. There is a mandatory 180-day waiting period. You are also ineligible to receive “more than one occupational license” following a conviction under Texas law within a 10-year period.

In other words, if you received an occupation license after a DWI conviction in 2010, you are ineligible to seek a second occupational license if you are convicted of a second DWI in 2016.

Proving You Have an “Essential Need”

As noted above, an Occupational Driver’s License is restricted. You must demonstrate to the judge that you have an “essential need” that requires you to drive, notwithstanding the suspension of your normal driving privileges. Texas law defines three essential needs:

  • Transportation to and from the place at which the person practices the person’s occupation or trade;
  • Transportation to and from an educational facility in which the person is enrolled; and
  • Performance of essential household duties.

It is therefore essential that you present the judge with evidence of your essential need, i.e. proof or employment or college enrollment. The judge will also consider your overall driving record in deciding whether to grant your petition for an Occupational Driver’s License.

If granted, the judge’s order will set forth the specific hours, purposes, and routes during which the person may drive. In general, a person with an Occupational Driver’s License may not drive more than four hours per 24-hour period absent a “showing of necessity.”

Need Advice From a Texas DWI Attorney?

If your license has been suspended and you still have questions about whether an Occupational Driver’s License may be an option, you should speak with a skilled DWI defense attorney who has experience in these matters. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in League City if you need to speak with a qualified attorney about your situation.

Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A Nelson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the TBLS.

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