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Occupational Driver’s License

A license suspension can be a huge hindrance on a person’s life. Most people need their motor vehicles to navigate to their jobs, childcare, and various other needs. A person can receive an administrative license suspension for multiple reasons such as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or refusing chemical testing by a peace officer.  

Fortunately, there are options for those with a suspended license. An occupational driver’s license (ODL) is a temporary license with added restrictions. Those who wish to obtain an occupational driver’s license must meet the requirements in the Texas Transportation Code. In some cases, a judge may call for a hearing so that the driver with the suspended license can present evidence as to why he or she should be granted an ODL.

An ODL allows a person with a suspended license to operate their motor vehicle for essential needs. Some examples include driving to school, commuting to work, and other required household duties. Having an ODL can significantly ease any stress that your charges or suspended license have caused. If you or someone you know has had their license suspended, revoked, or denied it’s vital that you seek trusted legal representation. 

DWI Attorney for Occupational Driver’s License in Harris County, Texas

In Texas it’s almost impossible to get around without a car. Most Texans use their motor vehicles every day for work, school, or other necessary needs. Having a suspended license can severely limit you and even encumber with your job or schooling.

If you or someone you know has had their license under administrative disciplinary action, it’s important that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Matthew Horak is a reputable attorney who is dedicated to his clients. He has filed many ODL petitions and attended ODL hearings. With his techniques and strategies he can help you retain your lifestyle.

Call today at (713) 225-8000 and schedule a free consultation. Horak Law practices law at the Harris County Court House and various other counties including Montgomery County, Liberty County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, and Waller County.

Overview of Occupational Driver’s License in Texas 

Occupational Driver’s License Requirements in Texas

The state of Texas has several requirements for people pursuing an occupational driver’s license. Not everyone is eligible for an ODL. If the offense is severe or if they’ve received multiple occupational driver’s licenses in the past, he or she may not qualify. The requirements for an ODL listed out in Texas Transportation Code § 521.242 include:

  • The petitioner’s license was automatically suspended or cancelled due to a conviction of a criminal offense; and
  • In the last 10 years, the petitioner has not been issued more than one ODL with Texas. 

If a person wishes to receive an ODL, he or she must file a petition with to the Justice of the Peace in the closest county or district court. This petition must obtain several items to be deemed valid by the Justice of the Peace. The following are some required items and steps needed in an ODL petition.

  • Detail of the petitioner’s essential needs and why they need an ODL;
  • The convicted offense and court that resulted in the license suspension; and
  • The petition must be filed with the appropriate county clerk. 

An “essential need” is basically the reason why you need an occupational driver’s license. Texas law defines an essential need as any of the following:

  • Commuting to and from work;
  • Using a motor vehicle for their occupation;
  • Transportation to and from school; or
  • Performing essential household duties. 

In addition, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) also requires some documentation before an occupational driver’s license can be used. The following are the documents that must be submitted to DPS before the petitioner can use their ODL. 

  • SR-22 insurance certificate;
  • A copy of the petition for the occupational license;
  • A copy of the court order granting the ODL;
  • An ODL fee; and
  • Other possible reinstatement fees.

Occupational License Restrictions in Houston, Texas

While it may be a huge relief to be granted an occupational driver’s license, understand there are restrictions. The Justice of Peace specify where and when a person can drive using an ODL. The following are those specifics:

  • Which days of the week the petitioner can drive;
  • Which hours of the days the petitioner can drive;
  • The specific reasons for why the petitioner is driving;
  • Specific areas or routes of travels the petitioner is permitted to drive;
  • If needed, that the car has an ignition interlock device installed; and
  • If needed, the petitioner must submit to periodic alcohol or drug testing.

Possible Requirements for an Occupational Driver’s License in Texas

Depending on the offense that caused the license suspension, an ODL may have other requirements. A petitioner who refused chemical testing or submitted and failed chemical testing may be obligated to attend a counseling program.

The petitioner must follow all the conditions of the program to retain their ODL. The court will also require the petitioner to report periodically to the court also to verify that he or she is attending the program. If it’s found that the petitioner is not participating, the court will retract the ODL for a period of time.

The following are the penalties for not attending required counseling:

  • 60 days if the suspension was for refusing chemical testing; or
  • 120 days if the suspension was for submitting and failing chemical testing.

Another possible requirement is an ignition interlock device or IID. An IID is essentially a breathalyzer in your car. The driver must blow into the device to start the engine and if the analysis reads a breath-alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08, the car won’t turn on. The court requires the petitioner to pay for the installation of an IID. However, if their financial situation is tough the court may come up with a payment schedule.

A person must have an IID to obtain an order for an ODL if he or she: 

  • Has a DWI conviction
  • Has a DWI with a child passenger conviction;
  • Has an assembling or operating an amusement ride intoxicated conviction;
  • Has a conviction for intoxication assault; or
  • Has a conviction for intoxication manslaughter.

An IID must be installed for the duration of the petitioner’s suspension.

Texas Penalties for Violating the Conditions of an Occupational Driver’s License

It’s important to note that the court can revoke your occupational license at any time. Those who violate the conditions of their license may also have to face a criminal penalty in conjunction with revocation. The following are the violations that may result in a class B misdemeanor:

  • Operates a motor vehicle in violations of the restrictions on the ODL order;
  • Don’t have a copy of the court order in the motor vehicle and is requested to present it to a peace officer.

The penalties for a class B misdemeanor include: 

  • Up to 180 days in county jail; and
  • A possible fine of up to $2,000.

Additional Resources 

Texas Driver’s License Laws – Visit the official website for Texas Transportation Code and find more information surrounding occupational licenses. Learn how occupational license hearings are conducted, what the court considers a valid IID, and when a person’s occupational license can be used.

Occupational License – Visit the official website for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and find more information surrounding occupational licenses. Gain access to the petition forms, SR-22 insurance certificates, and what the required fees for an occupational driver’s license is.

DWI Lawyer for Occupational Driver’s License in Texas

If you or someone you know has recently gotten their license cancelled or suspended, it’s important that you seek trusted legal representation now. A suspended license can significantly impact your life, making it difficult to retain a job or your status as a student. Don’t serve out your suspension without a fight. Call Matthew Horak at Horak Law to talk to an experienced attorney today.

Matthew Horak has a passion for criminal defense. He has been practicing in Texas criminal courts for years and understands the logistics of occupational license petitions. He cannot only help you file the petition and represent you in a hearing, but also inform you of any other available legal options. Get ahead of your suspension now with Horak Law.

Horak Law accepts clients throughout the greater Houston metroplex area and surrounding communities including River Oaks, Brays Oaks, Midtown, and Greenspoint.

Call now at (713) 225-8000 and schedule a free consultation today.

This article was last updated on November 28, 2018.


  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Matt Horak has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer Legion