Occupational Driver’s License (ODL)
Q: What is an “Occupational License”?
A: It is a temporary license that allows to you drive when your regular license is suspended. It lasts for the term of your suspension – anywhere from three months to two years.
Q: Is it only for driving to work?
A: No. The license also allows you to drive to school, for groceries, legal appointments and general household duties.
Q: That sounds like almost all normal driving, right?
A: Yes. But it doesn’t cover recreational activities – going to the movies, karaoke, eating out, etc.
Q: Can I drive any time I want?
A: No. You choose the hours you need to drive when we apply for the license. It can be up to twelve hours per day. For example: Monday-Friday from 8am-8pm and Saturday-Sunday from 10am-10pm. You can also break up the hours during the day. For example: Monday 8am-2pm & 5pm-11pm – as long as the hours total twelve. We define the hours for a full week – and these apply to the entire suspension period.
Q: What if something changes and I have to adjust the hours after I get the occupational license?
A: Unfortunately changing the hours after a judge has granted the ODL is very difficult.
Q: When do I get the Occupational License? Can I get it before my regular license is suspended?
A: We apply for the ODL if/when your regular license is suspended – you can’t get it before the suspension happens. In DWI cases we usually request an ALR (Administrative License Revocation) hearing after the arrest – so your license won’t be suspended until the hearing happens. This can be anytime from 3-8 months after the arrest. If the judge rules against us, that’s when we start working on the occupational license.
Q: How will I know when the ALR hearing is going to be?
A: We send e-mails with updates on the status of the hearing. We never know for sure if the hearing will actually happen because DPS attorneys frequently ask for resets due to the arresting officer being in training, sick or at another legal hearing.
Q: Do you need anything from me for the Occupational License?
A: YES! We can’t get the license without you getting us certain items:
- SR-22 Certificate of Insurance
- Copy of your Type AR (Certified Abstract) driving record
- A letter from your employer saying you need to drive, or, a pay stub showing you have a job
- List of counties you need to drive in and the hours you need to drive
- Occupational license fee of $298 for Travis County Clerk. You can pay us online and we pay the clerk with our law office account.
- Money order for ($135) made out to ‘Texas Department of Public Safety’. This is for the reinstatement ($125) and ODL fee ($10). We send it in to DPS for you. However sometimes our clients have already paid this, so if you think you have already paid this, please let us know. PLEASE NOTE – If you’ve had other problems with your license, the reinstatement fee can be more than $125. Call us if you think it could be more.
- You have to come in to the office and sign the application for the ODL
Q: How soon can you get the ODL?
A: It takes from 24 to 48 hours to get the ODL once you have given us all of the above documents/information/signature.
Q: Is getting an ODL an easy process for lawyers?
A: No. Getting an ODL granted is a laborious process that involves gathering the documents and information, drafting petitions and orders, filing them online, convincing a judge to sign the documents, getting certified copies from the clerk’s office, and sending them to DPS. We are happy to do it though! We get approximately 3 ODLs granted every week.
Q: What if I give you some (but not all) of the documents and information you need? Can you get started?
A: Unfortunately, no. Everything is submitted to the clerk/DPS altogether.
Q: What is a SR-22 certificate of insurance?
A: SR-22 is a financial responsibility insurance certificate. It obligates the insurance company to tell DPS if you stop paying for liability insurance. In other words, it is a way for DPS (and the judges who grant the ODL) to be sure that you have liability insurance.
Q: Is it separate from regular insurance?
A: No. It is bundled together with liability insurance. When you purchase SR-22, you are also getting liability insurance.
Q: Where should I get it?
A: We know the people who run Speedy SR-22. They are great. However you can google “SR-22 Texas” and a thousand companies will pop up to choose from.
Q: Can I buy it from my regular insurance company? Will they raise my rates?
A: If your current insurance company sells SR-22, you can get it from them. Unfortunately, I don’t know if your rates will be affected.
Q: What do I do with the proof of SR-22 insurance?
A: Send us a copy. We need to attach it to the application for your ODL. Usually the insurance company will send it to us if you give them our contact info.
Q: Where do I get a copy of my driving record?
A: If you have the audit number from your driver’s license, for $22 you can buy the driving record on the DPS website. If you don’t have your audit number, you need to order the driving record by mail (this can take 2-3 weeks). Go to https://www.txdps.state.tx.us/internetforms/FormDetail.aspx?Id=630&FormNumber=DR-1.pdf to download the form. In the top section of the form, “Check type of Record Desired,” mark box #4, Abstract Record. Then mail it to DPS (the address is on the form) with a $20 money order.
Q: How long after the ALR hearing do I have to get all the stuff together for the ODL?
A: You have a “grace period” of approximately 5 to 7 days after the ALR hearing before the suspension kicks in. This is plenty of time to get everything to us – unless you have to order your driving record by mail (because you don’t have your audit number). This is one of the reasons that we suggest that you get another physical license after you get arrested (assuming that the police took your license the day of the arrest). The audit number is the twenty digit number on the bottom of the license. DPS will not tell you your audit number on the phone.
Q: Why do I bring a payment of $288 to you? Why not give it directly to the Travis County Clerk?
A: The Travis County clerk’s online ODL filing system only accepts payments from law office accounts. You pay it to us online via our website and we pay it to them.
Q: What about the $135 money order (for reinstatement fee and ODL fee)? Where do I take that?
A: This money order should be made out to ‘Texas Department of Public Safety’. You give that to us so we can mail it in to DPS for you.
Q: Why do you mail it in and not me?
A: We mail everything to DPS for you. We do this because so many of our previous clients have forgotten to mail the documents or just lose them. We provide this service for free.
Q: What counties can I put in the ODL? What if I have to drive to Houston/Dallas/El Paso?
A: We always include Travis/Williamson/Hays counties. But if you want more counties, you must put in every county that you will be driving in. This includes all the counties in between destinations.
Q: How do I find out what counties are in between Austin and Houston/Dallas/El Paso?
A: You can look it up on this map.
Q: Can I add counties after I get my ODL?
Q: Why do I have to come into your office to sign the ODL application?
A: The judge requires an original notarized signature. We provide the notary service for free – but you must be present. If you’d rather get it notarized yourself, we will e-mail you the document and you can mail the original to us.
Q: The ODL says I have to keep a log book. What is that?
A: The judges require you to write down the dates/times/destinations for each of your trips. If you are pulled over by the police, they have the right to ask you for your log book. This sounds like a huge pain to me as well. None of my clients have had to show this log before – but, technically, it is one of the requirements for the ODL.
Q: Is the ODL just paperwork? Or does it look like a regular license?
A: Once the judge signs the ODL order, we give you paperwork describing the terms of the ODL. You can drive using this paperwork for 30 days. In 4-6 weeks you will receive a physical ODL in the mail from DPS that looks like a regular driver’s license. You can drive using this until the end of your suspension.
Q: What if they don’t send me the license before the 30 days end?
A: This happens sometimes. Call us and we’ll discuss the options. Usually the license shows up within a week or two.
Q: What if I don’t want to get an Occupational License? It sounds expensive and inconvenient.
A: You do not have to get an ODL. However, you can’t drive during the suspension period without one. And if you do drive without an ODL and they catch you, then it is another class B misdemeanor (Driving While License Invalid). I have many clients that weigh the pros/cons and decide that they’ll just use public transportation, Uber, Lyft, a bicycle (or Austin B-Cycle) or get rides with friends. Of course this is nearly impossible if you have children or a job that is not easy to get to. I suggest that you explore the possibilities – you might discover a new transportation system that is useful.
Q: Do I have to get an occupational license right away? Can I see how hard it is to use public transportation first?
A: You don’t have to get an ODL right away. We can get it whenever you decide you want it.
Q: I still have questions.
A: No problem. Call our office at (512) 472-1113. Or you can e-mail me at email@example.com.