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What Is an Occupational Driver’s License?

Criminal Law Blog by The Law Office of Greg Tsioros

What Is an Occupational Driver’s License?

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You need to be able to drive, yet you have a suspended license, possibly for a reason that has nothing to do with your driving record. What can you do to get back out on the road for necessary transportation to work, school, medical visits, and essential travel?

You can petition for an occupational driver’s license. An occupational license gives back some of your driving privileges for up to two years. 

What Is An Occupational Driver’s License?

An occupational license is sometimes called an essential need license. It grants the holder restricted rights to operate a private motor vehicle when the individual has had their driver’s license suspended, revoked, or denied for various offenses. 

The only exceptions are if the license was suspended or revoked for a physical or mental disability that prevents someone from safely operating a car, if the person is delinquent paying child support, or if that individual is in the county illegally.

Reasons for a suspended license include:

An occupational license is generally issued for one year or less. It may be renewed for a maximum of two years total.

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Who Is Eligible For An Occupational License?

You must petition the court for eligibility unless you are participating in a special drug court program. However, there are several reasons why your petition may not be granted. For example, if your driving privileges were already revoked, suspended, denied, or canceled for any reason when your current issue occurred. 

In other words, if your license was already suspended when the latest reason to take your privileges away, then you are out of luck.

The judge must order a waiver for any waiting periods. Otherwise, you are subject to the following Denials of Issuance or Waiting Periods:

  • You must wait 90 days if your driver’s license was previously suspended for an alcohol or drug-related offense.
  • You must wait 180 days if your driver’s license suspension was the result of an intoxication-related conviction.
  • You must wait a mandatory one-year period if you have at least two administrative license revocations on your driving record.

You cannot receive an occupational license to operate a commercial vehicle.

If you are under 21 years of age and failed an intoxication test, you are not eligible for an occupational license if you have been convicted of two or more alcohol-related offenses. If you have one prior conviction, you must wait 90 days after receiving an administrative license suspension to petition for an occupational license. 

If you have no other alcohol-related convictions, you must still wait 30 days after receiving an administrative license suspension to petition for an occupational license. 

How To Obtain An Occupational License

Your first step is to check the status of your driver’s license. It may be possible to get it reinstated instead of petitioning for an occupational license.

Go to and click on Renew/Replace Driver License under “Find Services.”

If your license has not been reinstated, you must petition one of the following:

  • A Justice of the Peace court
  • The county or district court where you reside if you have no legal convictions that caused your license to be suspended
  • The court of the original jurisdiction where the offense occurred and where you were convicted

You must gather several documents, some of which may require you to pay a fee to obtain them. 

  • An Order for Occupational Driver’s License form filled out except for the restrictions and the judge’s signature
  • A certified abstract of your full driving records, type AR
  • An SR-22 from an insurance company showing financial responsibility
  • Proof that you need driving privileges
  • A copy of the filed petition

The requirements may differ between jurisdictions, so check before gathering your documentation to ensure you obtain the correct forms and files. In some jurisdictions, you must provide a copy of the court order suspending your license and/or a notice of suspension from the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Once the judge has signed your petition and provided a court order allowing the issuance of an occupational license, submit the order along with the required documentation to the DPS to obtain the actual license.

Here is a list of potential fees and costs for obtaining an occupational license.

  • A court filing fee, which varies by location. A county court fee could be around $250.
  • A fee for the issuance of an SR-22 from the insurance company.
  • A fee for your certified abstract of driving record, around $22.
  • A notarization fee if you are unable to find a free notary public service.
  • The fee for two certified copies of the court order, around $20.
  • The occupational license fee of $10.

You may also need to pay a license reinstatement fee. If you cannot pay court costs, you must obtain a statement of inability to pay. You can only receive this statement if you:

  • Are low-income
  • Receive public assistance because you have a low income
  • Can prove you cannot pay the court filing fee

File all forms with the Clerk of the Court.

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An occupational license provides the privilege to drive only in the following circumstances:

  • For work
  • For school-related activities 
  • For medical visits
  • For the performance of essential household duties

The license may also restrict you to driving during a specific 12-hour period, such as between 7 am and 7 pm. Alternatively, you may be required to keep a driving log and only drive a total of 12 hours out of every 24. 

If you are convicted of an alcohol or drug-related offense, you may be required to attend an alcohol or drug program and obtain an ignition interlock. An interlock is only required for an alcohol-related conviction, not just an arrest.

Cautionary Note

Gaining an occupational license is a lot of work and can take time. You might be considering just driving without a license instead.

This is highly discouraged because if you get caught, you will be arrested. If arrested, you will be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor, have to pay fines, have to post bail to get out of jail, and then be placed on probation. On top of all that, you will need to find an attorney to help you resolve the problem. 

Take our advice. It is simpler and less expensive to be patient and obtain an occupational license if your driver’s license has been suspended. 

If you have any questions or need help, contact our office today.

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