How to Get an Occupational License in Texas

By Victoria McGrath
Many occupational licenses issued in Texas have mandatory waiting periods.

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The Texas Department of Public Safety issues occupational licenses to drivers with restricted driving privileges who need to get to work, school or complete essential household tasks. An occupational license permits you to operate a non-commercial vehicle for up to 12 hours a day, six days a week with court approval. First, you ask the court to approve the occupational license, then you submit an application for the occupational license to DPS. You must demonstrate to the court that you have an essential need to drive, so it may be helpful to consult an attorney.

Occupational License Approval and Issuance

If your driver's license is denied, revoked or suspended in Texas, you may be eligible for a restricted license. Applying for an occupational license is a two-step process. First, you file a court petition then submit a certified copy of the petition and court order, with supporting documentation and applicable license fees, to DPS. An occupational license is typically issued only for driving a non-commercial vehicle. Texas does not issue an occupational driver's license based on license restrictions for medical conditions or delinquent child-support payments.

Required Documents and Signatures for Court Order

Your request for an occupational license is based on your original case or circumstances under which your license was suspended, revoked or denied. This may be through the justice of peace, local court or district court, depending on which court originally heard your case, such as a criminal case that resulted in a suspension or revocation of your driver's license. You complete the petition and order form for an occupational license, obtain a SR-22 Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate from your insurance company and request a copy of your driving history from DPS. If your suspended, revoked or denied license is due to a criminal offense, you must also present the court order granting your occupational driver's license to the district attorney’s office for signature. After you obtain the DA's signature, submit the petition, order, supporting documents and court fees to the appropriate court.

Verification of Eligibility for Occupational License by Court

When you appear before the judge on your court date, provide a letter of employment from your employer, school schedule from your academic institution or other evidence to support your essential need to drive. The court verifies your eligibility before it issues a court order for an occupational license. After the judge approves the issuance of an occupational license and issues the order, you provide the order and other supporting documents to DPS. The court order serves as evidence of your pending occupational license and enables you to drive legally, up to a maximum of 30 days from the date the judge signed the court order, until your occupational license is issued from DPS.

Eligibility Review by the Texas Department of Public Safety

You must submit the court approval, all supporting documentation and required court fees to DPS before the agency issues an occupational license. Required documents typically include a certified copy of the court order, certified copy of the original petition and SR-22 Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate. Required payments include the occupational license fee and reinstatement fees. Once DPS receives and reviews the required documents, the agency updates its system and changes your driving eligibility from ineligible to eligible. DPS issues your occupational license for one year or less; the court can approve an occupational license for over one year up to the two-year maximum.

Mandatory Waiting Periods for Occupational License

In Texas, a waiting period often applies to occupational driver licenses. According to DPS, the waiting period ranges from 90 days up to one year. If you have previous suspensions due to drug- or alcohol-related offenses, you face a 90-day waiting period for an occupational license; if you have a suspension due to an intoxication-related criminal conviction, you face a 180-day waiting period; and a mandatory one-year waiting period applies if your driving record includes two or more administrative license revocations.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Victoria McGrath has been writing law-related articles since 2004. She specializes in intellectual property, copyright and trademark law. She earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona, College of Law. McGrath pursued both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts at University of California, Los Angeles, in film and television production. Her work has been published in the Daily Bruin and La Gente Newsmagazine.

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