When You Need to Drive but Your License Is Suspended
Let’s face it, when you live in Texas, driving is almost as essential as breathing air and drinking water. With all these wide open spaces that we love so much in Texas, the downside is that we have to do a whole lot of driving to get where we want to go. Sure you could use Lyft, Uber, or taxis, but who wants to spend all that money on getting rides to and from work every day of the week? If you have kids, how are you going to pick them where they need to be? If you are in school, how are you going to get reliable transportation to and from all your school related activities? And who can afford the additional costs?
How does your license get suspended?
Most people probably think a license suspension only happens when you get a DWI or you have too many points on your driving record from paying tickets, but there are other ways your license can be suspended in Texas such as:
- Unpaid tickets
- Too many tickets
- Drug charges
- Unpaid surcharges
When you find yourself with a suspended driver’s license, but you still need to get to work or school, pick up your kids, grab dinner for the family, and other essential household needs, you need to get an occupational driver’s license (ODL). It’s never a good idea to drive without having a valid license. The consequences for driving without a license can be costly. You can receive a ticket if you get pulled over.
If you have previous tickets for driving without a license, you can be arrested. You will have to spend money bonding out of jail on the charge. Then, you will need to hire an attorney to represent you in your case at court. You will have to take time off from your job to appear at court several times before your case is resolved. Don’t waste even more money and time. Get your ODL to avoid the consequences of driving without a valid license. Honestly, it’s not worth the risks involved to drive without a license.
However, not everyone can get an ODL. If you have a hard suspension due to previous DWI convictions, need it for a commercial vehicle, are not a U.S. citizen, received two ODLs in the past 10 years after a conviction or you have failed to pay child support, you will not be able to get an ODL in Texas.
I qualify, now what?
If you are eligible to get an ODL, you need to file a petition in the county where you received the suspension. You will also need to obtain a copy of your driving record and an SR-22 from your insurance company. The SR-22 is required because under this type of insurance policy, your insurance company is required to contact DPS and notify them if you no longer have coverage. If this happens, then your ODL will be revoked. The Court will not grant your petition for an ODL without proof of purchase of an SR-22 insurance policy.
If the Court grants your petition, you will receive a signed order from the Judge which can be used immediately in place of the actual ODL for 45 days unless you received your suspension for a DWI and you refused to give breath or blood. If this is the case, depending on whether it is your first offense or a subsequent offense, you may have to wait before the order goes into effect. Keep in mind if your license is suspended due to a DWI, you are required to have an interlock device installed on your vehicle. Without this device, you will not be granted an ODL by the Court.
After that, you will need to have the license. You obtain your ODL by sending off certified copies of your petition, signed order, and SR-22 to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) along with the correct fee depending on the type of suspension you received.
After you receive your ODL, make sure you follow the order that was granted by the Court. If you have day and time restrictions, do not drive outside of those times allowed. If you have an interlock, you are not required to have day and time restrictions. If the hours you need to drive have changed since you were granted your ODL, you will have to go back to the Court to seek a modification of your ODL order. Do not let a change in schedule be the reason your ODL gets revoked. Make sure you make all necessary modifications when you need them.
I’m overwhelmed. Help!
My office is able and willing to help you with your ODL questions. If you think you need an ODL, please contact my office so we can determine if you are eligible for an ODL and help you legally get back on the road.
For information about ODLs from the Texas Department of Public Safety, visit their website at: https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/OccupationalLicense.htm
For information about obtaining an SR-22, visit Accurate Concept insurance website at:
For information about obtaining an interlock device, visit Intoxalock website at: