Houston Occupational Driver's License Lawyer
If your driver’s license is suspended, expired, cancelled or revoked, let us help you get back on the road legally as soon as possible. If you are stopped while your driver’s license is suspended, you risk an arrest or ticket for driving while license invalid or suspended, and it can result in an additional drivers license suspension and more surcharges (each conviction for driving while license suspended carries a $750.00 surcharge payable over three years).
Sometimes, our clients have multiple reasons for not being eligible for a Texas driver’s license. Sometimes, no occupational license is necessary because your license can be reinstated immediately by payment of money or by some other means. We will research your situation, and give you all of your options. Often, an occupational driver’s license is best and quickest solution. For example, an occupational license may be the only remedy because your suspension has a definite end date and cannot be removed until it expires. Sometimes, even though your suspension might be ended by payment of outstanding tickets and removal of traffic warrants, an occupational license will allow you to work and earn money in the interim to give you the time and funds necessary to resolve the outstanding issues.
License suspensions are either by the Texas Department of Public Safety, or by a court. DPS suspensions are referred to as departmental suspensions. Departmental suspensions can occur for a number of reasons, such as:
*Unpaid surcharges (resulting from convictions for no license, driving while license suspended, no insurance or for a DWI)
*Being convicted of at least four moving violations in any 12 month period
*Driving after your license is expired (inability to renew can result from outstanding ticket matters, such as one or more outstanding failures to appear or fines)
*Getting a new conviction during a suspension or invalid period
*Being uninsured and at fault in an accident
*Breath or blood test refusal or failure following an arrest for driving while intoxicated
*Unresolved matters from another state
*Expired driver’s license with other outstanding problems preventing renewal
If you are suspended due to a medical disability, you may not obtain a regular license or an occupational license unless and until medically cleared by the DPS. Also, an occupational driver’s license will not permit driving vehicles that require a commercial driver’s license.
To obtain an occupational license (sometimes referred to as a work or restricted drivers license), a sworn petition must be filed in the correct court in the correct form. A filing fee of no less than $200.00 must be paid to the court clerk. Usually the correct court is a county court in the county where you reside, except if a criminal judge suspended your driver’s license (such as for a DWI, drug or fictitious inspection sticker conviction), that criminal court has exclusive jurisdiction. If your license is administratively suspended due to a breath test failure or refusal, and for no other reason, you can choose a county court either in the county of your residence, or in the county where your DWI arrest occurred.
In some cases, you cannot get an occupational drivers license until a certain period of time elapses. This is usually due to a breath test failure or refusal or DWI conviction that follows a prior alcohol or drug-related contact with law enforcement within specified periods of time. Periods of ineligibility range from 90 days to a year, depending on your particular circumstances.
By law, an occupational license must be restricted to essential work-related driving, driving to and from an educational facility in which you are enrolled, and for essential household duties. Some judges will not allow driving on weekends or at times required for your work, even when you prove an essential need permitted by statute. While this is wrong and an abuse of judicial discretion, it is difficult to overcome due to the cost of an appeal. The law permits no more than twelve (12) hours behind the wheel in any given day. This is a maximum. Your particular judge might not permit more than four or five hours behind the wheel in a 24 hour period, and may disallow driving late at night.
Some of the information that we will need to know is what you do for a living, the address of your work, whether you are in school or are required to attend court-ordered activities, your actual driving hours are for each day of the week, and where you need to drive. This is usually described in the order as blocks of time, and can be limited to certain counties and even roadways. Sometimes, you can be given more flexible driving privileges, which must be documented on a driving log filled in at the beginning and end of each trip.
Additionally, courts can order monthly supervision, attendance at alcoholics anonymous, counseling, and an ignition interlock if the suspension is related to an alcohol or drug offense. For those of you who are in the Harris County DIVERT program for first offense driving while intoxicated, an occupational driver’s license is relatively easy to obtain since you are already under supervision. However, whatever the court orders as condition of an occupational license must be complied with. Driving at times or in locations not permitted subject you to arrest for driving on a suspended license.
A word of caution: few lawyers know this area of the law. Once the court issues its order for an occupational driver’s license, you must complete more steps. The Department of Public Safety will continue to show a suspension in your driving record until you notify it of the order for an occupational driver’s license, pay certain fees, and provide special documents. Reinstatement fees vary depending on the type of your license suspension. A $10.00 registration fee must also be paid for each year of your suspension. Finally, a special certificate of insurance (SR22) must be filed. If these details are not completed within 30 days of the hearing for your occupational drivers license, your order for an occupational driver’s license loses its effect.
When the DPS receives all the documentation and fees required, it will issue an actual plastic photo occupational driver’s license. This license looks and feels like a regular drivers license, except that it states that it is an occupational drivers license, and it refers to the court order on the reverse side. You must carry the plastic license and a certified copy of the court’s order for an occupational driver’s license with you at all driving times. If a log is required, this too must be current and at your side in the vehicle.
Some judges require you to produce an SR22 insurance certificate and proof of financial responsibility (liability insurance) before it will sign an order for an occupation license. The SR22 is not insurance itself. Rather, it is a pink form that signifies that your insurance carrier will notify DPS if you fail to pay for your insurance in advance. DPS will not issue you an occupational drivers license unless this SR22 is on file. Furthermore, DPS will cancel your occupational drivers license if your insurance carrier notifies DPS that you failed to timely pay your premiums.
Another word of caution: Some insurance companies take a dim view of suspended licenses, especially if due to a driving offense such as driving while intoxicated. We suggest contacting us before informing your insurance agent about your suspended license situation. If your insurance company does not know you have a problem, and we can get what you need from another source, perhaps for less money, you are usually well served.
We can point you to sources to help you get this SR22 certificate without involving your primary insurance carrier. Each situation is different. We know how, when and where to get you driving privileges. Please contact us for a free consultation.