Occupational Driver’s License (ODL)
Q: What is an “Occupational License”?
A: It is a temporary court order that allows to you drive while 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 ODL 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 will have to choose the hours you need to drive when we apply for the ODL. You can drive up to twelve hours per day. For example: Monday-Friday from 8:00am-8:00pm and Saturday-Sunday from 10:00am-10:00pm. You can also break up the hours during the day. For example: Monday 8:00am-2:00pm and 5:00pm-11:00pm – 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 after the hearing happens. This can be anytime from 3-8 months after the arrest. If the judge rules against us at the hearing, 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 when it was originally scheduled, because the DPS attorneys frequently ask for resets due to officers 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 Financial Responsibility
- Copy of your Type AR (Certified Abstract) driving record
- — If you have a Texas license, order the driving record online.
- — If you lost your Texas license, order the driving record via mail.
- — If you have never had a Texas license, call our office at (512) 472-1113.
Q: What if I want to get started now?
- — Order your AR driving record via mail ONLY IF you lost your Texas driver’s license or you have never had a Texas license.
- — Sign the Occupational License application at our office. You can schedule an appointment online.
- — Make a list of hours and counties you want to include in the ODL.
- — Research SR-22 options.
- — Pay the filing fee, reinstatement fee, or purchase SR-22 or your driving record online until we e-mail you an update the afternoon of the hearing. The DPS attorney may ask the Judge for a continuance or the hearing could be dismissed altogether.
Q: How soon can you get the ODL?
A: It takes from 24 to 48 hours to get the ODL written and signed by the judge 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 the petitions and orders, convincing a judge to sign the documents, getting certified copies, 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 financial responsibility?
A: SR-22 is a certification issued by a car insurance company showing proof that you are carrying the minimum liability coverage required by the state. 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 judge who grants 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. However, you can purchase a non-owner’s policy and SR-22 bundle from an independent insurance provider that will not interfere with your regular policy.
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 to choose from will pop up.
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 by this decision. This is why many of our clients prefer to buy a non-owner’s policy and SR-22 bundle from Speedy SR-22.
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 your Texas license- Order your AR driving record online through the DPS website. You will need to refer to the 20 digit audit number on your license. The cost is $22.
If you do not have your Texas license- You need to order your driving record by mail (this can take 2-3 weeks). Download the form. In the top section “Check type of Record Desired,” mark box #4, Abstract Record. Then mail it to DPS (the address is on the form) with a $20 check or money order.
If you never had a Texas license- Call the office at (512) 472-1113 and we can help you.
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 2-3 days after the ALR hearing before the suspension is processed by DPS and becomes active. This is plenty of time to get everything we need to us – unless you have to order your driving record by mail, because you don’t have a copy of your Texas license (and therefore the audit number) or you have never had a Texas driver’s license at all. This is one of the reasons that we suggest that you get another copy of your 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 your regular driver’s license. DPS will not tell you your audit number over the phone.
Q: How do I check my license eligibility online?
A: After the judge signs the judgment suspending your license, it usually takes DPS 2-3 days to process the license suspension. I recommend checking your license online after the hearing to make sure your license is still eligible during the “grace period.” Here is the link to check license eligibility. If the suspension has not been processed, the status will read “ELIGIBLE.” If you check your license and the status is “ELIGIBLE” but you see a suspension date below, this means DPS knows you have a pending suspension. This is a placeholder suspension and not your actual suspension date (i.e., the suspension dates you would have served had we not requested the hearing and tried to stop the suspension). If the status reads “NOT ELIGIBLE”, then the suspension has been processed and your license is suspended. The suspension shown below should be accurate.
Q: Why do I bring a payment of $51 to you? Why not give it directly to the Justice of the Peace, Precinct 5?
A: JP5’s ODL filing system only accepts payments from law office accounts. You can make the payment to us online via our website and we will pay it to the court on your behalf.
Q: What about the $135 (for reinstatement fee and ODL fee)? Where do I pay that?
A: You will also pay this fee to our office. We will send DPS a check from our office when we submit your completed ODL to them. Office checks are easier to track than personal money orders. We want to make sure we can track the check in case DPS forgets to credit your account (unfortunately DPS has done this in the past).
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 to DPS or lose them altogether. 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, and Hays Counties in every ODL. However, if you need additional 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 ODL petition 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 can e-mail you the document and you can mail the original back to us.
Q: The ODL says I have to keep a log book. What is that?
A: The judge requires you to write down the dates/times/destinations for each time you drive your car. If you are pulled over by the police, they have the right to ask to see your log book. 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 a certified copy of the order that describes the terms of the ODL. You can drive using only this paperwork for 45 days. Within that 45 day period, you should receive a physical ODL in the mail from DPS that looks like a regular driver’s license. Once you receive the hard copy of the ODL, it must be kept with the certified order you were given previously. Both of these items together make up your ODL. One is not valid without the other after the 45 day period is over.
Q: What if they don’t send me the license before the 45 days end?
A: This happens sometimes. Call us and we’ll discuss the options. Usually the license shows up within a week or two. We may be able to get you an amended order to cover you while you wait for the hard copy in the mail.
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 legally during the suspension period without one. 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 during their suspension. 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 one 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.