Occupational Driver’s License
Occupational Driver’s License
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.
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The information and forms in this toolkit are not legal advice and are not a substitute for the help of a lawyer. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer about your particular situation.
For all instructions and forms combined, click here.
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.
You may qualify for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Driver Responsibility Indigency Program. Under this program, if you have a very low income and meet other requirements DPS can 1) reduce any surcharge amount you owe and 2) let you keep driving while you make payments on the surcharge amount.
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.