DWI FAQs: What Is an Occupational License?

Helping you better understand occupational licenses in DWI cases.

A common punishment in a DUI conviction is the suspension of your driver’s license for a period of time ranging from 90 days to 1 year. But did you know there is a provision for a restricted license for use during that period?

It is called an occupational license, or an essential use license, that can be issued in many cases of license suspension. With an occupational license you can:

  • Drive to work.
  • Drive to school related activities.
  • Drive to perform essential household duties.

An occupational license is only available for non-commercial use. It will not replace a CDL.

Who Is Eligible for an Occupational License?

An occupational license can be issued as long as your license hasn’t been suspended, revoked, cancelled, or denied under any other Texas state law. This type of restricted license is not available to anyone whose license was suspended, revoked, or denied due to medical reasons or for delinquent child support.

Issuance of an occupational license is subject to a waiting period in certain cases:

Waiting Period Circumstances 90 days Your license was previously suspended in a DWI/DUI related offense. 180 days Your license was in suspension already as a result of a DWI/DUI conviction at the time of the second conviction. 1 year If there are at least 2 administrative license revocations on your record.

Requesting an Occupational License

You must apply to the county or district court where you live or where the court of original jurisdiction where the offense occurred. These legal bodies will determine your eligibility for an occupational license. If you are then a court order will be issued. It is a document that will be required as part of the occupational license application and authorizes the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to issue the restricted license.

The court order is NOT the license itself but it can be used as such for up to 30 days after the judge’s signature while awaiting the occupational license.

Other documents you must provide to the DPS include:

  • A certified copy of the petition as well as the court order for granting the occupational license. (A petition is not required of someone participating in a special drug court program)
  • A Financial Responsibility Insurance Certificate also known as a SR-22.
  • Payment for the occupational license fee. This was $10 annually at the time of this writing.
  • Payment for the reinstatement fees. This is only due for the first year

The SR-22 is a specific type of motor vehicle liability insurance. Most insurance providers will issue it and it can be used as proof of insurance for minimum liability requirements. You must understand that the insurance company will automatically notify the DPS when this certificate lapses or is cancelled or terminated for any reason.

Reinstatement fees and other surcharges will also be due. Some of them depend on your age and circumstances:

  • Everyone must pay $125 fee for license reinstatement after license revocation due to failing or refusing to undergo a chemical test.
  • There may be annual surcharges for the Driver Responsibility Program ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 each year for 3 years.

An occupational license, while restricting where you can drive, at least allows you to drive to work and school as well as on household errands until you can apply for reinstatement of your Texas driver’s license. This provides you the opportunity to continue working and keeping up your home while dealing with the complexity of a DWI/DUI charge.