Occupational Licenses


License to Drive…Not Anymore

So your license was suspended and well, you still need to drive. Whether you are just a terrible driver with too many tickets or you’ve been accused of committing a DWI/DUI, your license can be suspended for many reasons.

You may be tempted to drive even though you do not have a valid driver’s license. DON’T DO IT! Getting caught driving with a suspended license will just make things worse for you!

Fortunately, there may be a solution that can get you behind the wheel; depending on how/why your license was suspended.

The Solution

You may qualify for an occupational driver’s license. Under Texas law, individuals whose license has been suspended can apply to get an occupational license, also known as an “essential needs license.”

To show that you have an essential need, you have to show that you are a person needing to operate a vehicle: in the performance of an occupation or trade or for transportation to and from the place at which you practice your occupation or trade; for transportation to and from an educational facility in which you are enrolled; or in the performance of essential household duties.

Tex. Trans. Code § 521.241(1)

The purpose for this law is to allow individuals to still function in everyday life, despite having their licenses revoked, as long as they qualify.

Who Qualifies?

Most individuals who have had their licenses revoked will qualify for an occupational license with a few exceptions. If your license was revoked because of medical reasons or for delinquent child support, then you are not eligible. Unfortunately, if you have a CDL, you are not eligible for an occupational license either. (Texas DPS website)

Also, there are mandatory waiting periods under certain circumstances. If your license was suspended in the past five years due to an offense involving drugs or alcohol then you must wait 90 days. If your license was suspended in the past five years because of an intoxication-related conviction then you must wait 180 days. If your license has been revoked for a second time in the past five years as a result of an intoxication-related conviction then you must wait one year.

Tex. Trans. Code § 521.251

The Process

To get an occupational license you must file a petition in the County where you reside or where your license was suspended. Once the petition is filed, you will have to attend a brief court hearing where a judge will determine your fate. If he grants your application, it is sent to the Department of Public Safety to issue your license and it will last for one to two years.

Tex. Trans. Code §§ 521.242, 521.244

The Conclusion

If your license is revoked, look into getting an occupational license. Yes, an occupational license is restrictive on when and where you can drive but it is worth having the peace of mind that will not face further charges for driving while license suspended.

–Authored by James R. Palomo, Esq.,


Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division

1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309

Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479

[email protected]