Occupational Driver License

An Occupation Driver's License (ODL) is a restricted license available to individuals whose license has been suspended, if they can demonstrate an essential need to drive a non-commercial motor vehicle. Statute defines "essential need" as a need of a person to operate a motor vehicle:

In the performance of an occupation or trade or for transportation to and from the place at which the person practices the occupation or trade. Trans Code 521.241(1)(A) For transportation to and from an educational facility in which the person is enrolled. Trans Code 521.241 (1)(B)

In the performance of essential household duties. Trans Code 521.241(1)(C) 

Who is Eligible for an ODL? 

A person whose license has been suspended for a cause other than a physical or mental disability or impairment or a conviction under Section 49.04 Penal Code, may apply for an occupational license. Trans Code 521.242(a)

An ODL CAN NOT be granted for a commercial driver's license. Trans Code 521.242(f)

No more than 2 ODL may be issued to any one person in a ten year period. 

What are the requirements to get an ODL? 

The person must file a verified petition in the county or justice court precinct where the person resides or where the offense occurred for which the license was suspend.

The person has not been issued, in the past 10 years preceding the date of the filing of the petition, more than 1 ODL after a conviction under the laws of this state.

Hearing and Court Order

The judge who hears the petition shall sign an order finding whether an essential need exits. 

Order Granting ODL

An order granting an ODL must specify the hours of the day and days of the week during which the person may operate a motor vehicle; the reasons for which the person may operate a motor vehicle; and areas or routes of travel permitted.

The person may not operate a motor vehicle for more than 4 hours in any 24-hour period, except that on a showing of necessity the court may allow the person to drive for any period determined by the court that does not exceed 12 hours in any 24-hour period.

An order granting an ODL remains valid until the end of the period of suspension of the person's regular driver's license. Trans Code 521.248

The court order is not the ODL. A court order authorizes the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to issue the ODL. 

Notice to Department 

The court shall send a certified copy of the petition and the court order stetting out the judge's findings and restrictions to the department.

The person may use a copy of the order as a restricted license until the 31st day after the date on which the order takes effect. 

Court Order in Operator's Possession 

A person who is issued an occupational license shall have in the person's possession a certified copy of the court order granting the license while operating the motor vehicle. The person shall allow a peace officer to examine the order on request. Trans Code 521.250 

License Revocation

The court that signs an order granting an occupational license may issue at any time an order revoking the license for good cause. The court shall send a certified copy of the order to the department. Trans Code 521.252(a)(b)

If a person who holds an occupational license commits an offense: Operates vehicle in violation of restrictions imposed on the license; or fails to have the certified copy of the court order as required, this is a Class B misdemeanor, upon conviction of an offense under this section the ODL and ordering granting are revoked. Trans Code 521.2532(a)(1)(2)(b)(c)

Additional Requirements

Ignition Interlock Device: An individual who receives an ODL is required to install an ignition interlock device on the vehicle if: 

  • They have 2 or more DWI convictions, or 
  • Their license has been suspended after a DWI conviction that was punishable as an enhanced DWI offense. Trans code 521.246

Counseling: If the petitioner's license has been suspended under Chapter 524 or 724, the court shall require the petitioner to attend a program that is designed to provide counseling and rehabilitation services to persons for alcohol dependence 

Waiting Period 

Certain offenses make an individual ineligible to receive an ODL, and some suspensions are required to wait a certain period of time before they are eligible to receive an ODL.

If Petitioner has had within the last 5 years: 

  • NO previous contact suspensions - No waiting period Trans Code 521.251 (a)
  • Prior ALR contact within last 5 years - 90 day waiting period Trans Code 521.251 (b)
  • Prior DWI conviction within last 5 years - 180 day waiting period; and Trans Code 521.251 (c)
  • An individual has been convicted of two or more DWI offenses within the preceding five years must wait one year after the effective date of the license suspension. Trans Code 521.251 

Waiting periods for persons under 21? 

A minor who is under the age of 21 must wait the following periods before they are eligible for an ODL after failing an intoxication test (Trans Code 524.022):

  • 30 days after the administrative license has been in effect if no preceding alcohol-related convictions;
  • 90 days after the administrative license has been in effect if one prior alcohol conviction;

A minor is not eligible for an ODL if they have been convicted of 2 or more driver's license suspensions.