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Occupational Driver’s License

Occupational Driver’s License

Ask for a special restricted license that lets you drive a noncommercial vehicle for work, school, or to perform essential household duties.
Overview

Guide Overview

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer

If your driver’s license was suspended or revoked you may still be allowed to drive under certain circumstances if you get an occupational driver’s license (ODL).

An occupational driver’s license is a special restricted license that lets you drive a non-commercial vehicle for work, school or to perform essential household duties.

To get an occupational driver’s license you must first get a court order that authorizes the Texas Department of Public Safety to issue the license.

The process can take weeks to complete and can get complicated. You may need to hire an attorney to help you reach your goal. It’s a good idea to ask a lawyer to help you determine if you qualify for an occupational driver’s license. You can also hire a lawyer to review your forms before you file them with the court.

Research Tips

Texas laws:

· Texas Transportation Code chapter 521 subchapter L

· Texas Transportation Code chapter 601.

· Texas Health and Safety Code section 469.009.

· Texas Transportation Code, Title 7, Subtitle  B, Ch. 521, Subtitle I, Ch. 708.

Common questions about Occupational Driver’s License

An occupational driver’s license (ODL) is a restricted license that lets you drive at certain times, on specific days, under certain conditions, when you have an “essential need to drive.”

An “essential need” means you need to drive to:

  • Do your job,
  • Get to and from work or school, or
  • Do essential household duties. 

No. You cannot get an ODL if:

  • You lost your driving privileges because of a mental or physical disability.
  • You lost your driving privileges for failure to pay child support.
  • You need it to drive a commercial motor vehicle.
  • The judge thinks you do not have an essential need.
  • The judge is worried about public safety.
  • You have received two ODLs in the past 10 years after a conviction.
  • You have a “hard suspension” waiting period due to a prior DWI arrest or conviction.

The surcharge program ended on September 1, 2019. This means Texas removed any surcharges that were in effect on September 1, 2019. If your license was suspended due solely to surcharges, it should be automatically reinstated. 

Sometimes, if your license is suspended because:

  • of a criminal homicide, or an intoxication offense under Penal Code 49.04-49.08
  • you are under 21 and your license is suspended according to Texas Transportation Code 521.342.

You may use a certified copy of the Order for ODL to drive for 45 days once the order takes effect. Read your Order to learn when it takes effect.

If you don’t receive your actual ODL from DPS before the 45th day you can’t drive until you either receive the ODL or go back to court to get an Amended Order for ODL that extends the deadline.

Be careful: To get your certified Abstract online, you MUST verify that ALL of your DPS records (DL, ID or unlicensed record) have been CONSOLIDATED or you risk purchasing incomplete information and may need to purchase additional records.

If you have determined that your records are consolidated, you may purchase your driving record online, with a credit card and print it out. The online cost is $22. You will need to enter your driver’s license number and license audit number from your most recent DL (or ID, if your records are CONSOLIDATED) and the last four digits of your social security number at: www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/driverrecords.htm

To get a Certified Abstract by mail, print the DR-1 form called “Request for a Certified Abstract of a Driver Record” from www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/driverrecords.htm

Mail the completed form and a $20 check or money order to Texas DPS. This form does not require the audit number or your social security number.

An Order for ODL will take effect as soon as a judge signs it UNLESS one of the following waiting periods (also called “hard suspension”) applies.

If your license was suspended for refusing or failing a blood or breath test when arrested for DWI or other alcohol or drug-related driving or boating offense, the order for ODL cannot take effect for:

  • 90 days after your license was suspended — if during the 5 years before your arrest your license was suspended because of an alcohol or drug-related arrest.
  • 180 days after your license was suspended — if during the 5 years before your arrest your license was suspended because of a DWI, Intoxication Assault, or Manslaughter conviction.
  • 365 days after your license was suspended — if during the 5 years before your arrest your license was suspended because of a second (or more) DWI, Intoxication Assault, or Manslaughter conviction.

Instructions & Forms

Warning: The information and forms in this guide are not a substitute for the advice and help of a lawyer

Checklist Steps

Sometimes people think they need an Occupational Driver’s License when they could just reinstate their license.

Before asking the court for an ODL, check your license eligibility status at www.Texas.gov/driver. Click on “Drivers License Reinstatement and Status.”

This free site will tell you if you can drive with your current license and, if not, what you need to do to become eligible. If you are not eligible, the website will tell you:

  • The requirements to meet.
  • The fees you need to pay.

You can pay fees on this website and get information on how to mail proof that you met the compliance requirements to DPS. Keep checking the website because it is updated daily.

You can also call the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to check your eligibility/qualifying status at 512-424-2600 (English) and 512-424-7181 (Español)

Be careful! Recent court actions, out-of–state violations, and AG-reported child support arrearages may not be reflected in your current eligibility status.

Even if you get a court order for an Occupational Driver’s License, DPS cannot issue one if:

  • You lost your driving privileges for a medical condition.
  • You lost your driving privileges because you owe child support.
  • You have received two ODLs after a conviction in the past 10 years.
  • You don’t qualify to get a Texas driver’s license because you are in the United States unlawfully. The documents to verify that you are a citizen or that you are in the United States lawfully are listed on the Texas DPS website.
  • Two court forms:
  1. The Petition for Occupational Driver’s License asks the Court to issue an order.
  2. The Order for Occupational Driver’s License orders DPS to issue you an ODL. (make sure to scroll down for the Order once you click the link. The Order starts on page 6 of the 10 page PDF document.)

            Get forms for the Petition and the Order here.

  • Certified Abstract (Type AR) of your driving record:
  • Be careful: To get your certified Abstract online, you MUST verify that ALL of your DPS records (DL, ID or unlicensed record) have been CONSOLIDATED or you risk purchasing incomplete information and may need to purchase additional records.

    If you have determined that your records are consolidated, you may purchase your driving record online, with a credit card and print it out. The online cost is $22. You will need to enter your driver’s license number and license audit number from your most recent DL (or ID, if your records are CONSOLIDATED) and the last four digits of your social security number at: www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/driverrecords.htm

    To get a Certified Abstract by mail, print the DR-1 form called “Request for a Certified Abstract of a Driver Record” from www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/driverrecords.htm

    Mail the completed form and a $20 check or money order to Texas DPS. This form does not require the audit number or your social security number.

  • Proof that you need to drive to go to work, school, or perform essential household duties, etc. Examples of proof: your school schedule or registration, a current pay stub, a letter from your job, or an affidavit (sworn statement) explaining your need to drive.
  • SR-22 proof of insurance from your insurance company. Get the SR-22 (also called a “Financial Responsibility Certifi­cate”) from your insurance compa­ny. The SR-22 proves that you have the minimum liability insur­ance required by law. If you don’t own a vehicle, you can get a Texas Non-Owner SR-22 Insurance Policy. Your insurance company will tell DPS if the SR-22 coverage lapses, terminates or is cancelled—and then your ODL will be revoked.
  • Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs. Fill out this form only if you have a low-income, receive public assistance because you have a low income, or cannot pay the court filing fee. Read Court Fees & Fee Waivers for more information.

When you file your Petition for Occupational Driver's License with the Court you are asking the court to order DPS to issue you an Occupational Driver’s License.

  • If your license was automatically suspended or canceled following a conviction, file the Petition in the same court that convicted you.
  • If your license has not been suspended or canceled following a conviction, file the Petition in the county where you live or where the offense that is currently suspending your license occurred. You may have a choice between filing in District Court, County Court-at-Law or Justice of the Peace (JP) court. If so, you may want to research local procedures, court costs, and court scheduling to decide which court is best for your situation. 

Ask the court clerk when you should come back for the hearing. You may need to schedule a time for your hearing.

When you go to Court, bring:

  • The Order for Occupational Driver’s License form. Fill out all but the restrictions and the judge’s signature.
  • A Certified Abstract of your full driver record (Type AR).
  • The SR-22 from your insurance company.
  • Some courts may require a copy of the court order suspending your license and/or the notice of suspension from DPS.
  • Proof that you need to drive.
  • A copy of the filed Petition.

Note: If you filed a form to request the court filing fees be waived, the court may require proof of income & expenses.

At the hearing:

  • The judge reviews your Petition and other paperwork. Then the judge decides whetherto sign the Order granting an occupational license.
  • If the judge signs the order, he/she will mark the restrictions as to when and where you can drive.
  • After the judge signs your order, get a certified copy of your filed Petition and at least two certified copies of the Order from the clerk.

You may use a certified copy of the Order for Occupational Driver's License to drive for 45 days after the order takes effect. Read your order to learn when it takes effect. See the FAQs about waiting periods.

If you don’t receive your ODL from TxDPS before the 45th day you can’t drive until you either receive the ODL or go back to court to get an Amended Order for ODL that extends the deadline.

A court’s occupational driver’s license Order is not the license itself. Rather, it is a court order telling the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to issue an occupational driver’s license to you.

After you get the court Order, you must contact DPS to get the actual occupational driver's license.

Mail the following documents to DPS as soon as possible!

  • a certified copy of your Petition for ODL
  • a certified copy of the Order for ODL that was signed by the Judge
  • your SR-22 proof of insurance certificate,
  • A check, money order or cashier’s check payable to the Texas DPS for the Occupational License fee. Send $10 for a 1-year license or $20 for a 2-year license.
  • A check, money order or cashier’s check made out to the Texas Department of Public Safety for the amount you owe in reinstatement fees, if any. Go to www.Texas.gov/driver or call DPS at 512-424-2600 to find out what you owe. 

Mail all the documents together by certified mail return receipt requested (so that you have proof you mailed them) to:

Texas DPS Central Cash Receiving
Box 15999
Austin, Texas  78761-5999

Forms Required