Occupational Licenses

Occupational Licenses

Hi, I'm Charlie Roadman, Austin criminal defense attorney. And today, we're going to talk about occupational licenses. An occupational license is a court order that allows you to drive while your regular license is suspended. It lasts for the term of the suspension, which can be anywhere from three months to two years. You cannot get an occupational license before your regular license is suspended. Even though it's called an occupational license, you are allowed to drive for things other than work. In fact, you're allowed to drive for essential household duties, which would include getting groceries, taking your kids to school, legal meetings, medical meetings, anything like that. Basically, what I say is anything that's not entertainment related. So you're not allowed to go to the movies or bowling or go sing karaoke with an occupational license.

There are two types of occupational licenses. One that have an ignition interlock device requirement, this is the blow device that you have to blow into to start the car and while you're driving, if you have that type of occupational license, there aren't restrictions about when you can drive or where you can drive, which makes sense. If you have to blow into the device to start the car, the judge is confident that you're sober. Okay. The second type of occupational license, the one that does not have an ignition interlock device requirement, you have to tell the court what counties you need to drive and the times, but there are restrictions specifically on the times. You are only allowed to drive 12 hours a day. Now you can break up those hours, but you have to define a whole week and you can't change it.

Okay. Which makes it difficult for some people. For example, you could say, "I need to drive Monday from 8:00 AM to noon, and then 2:00 to 6:00 PM, and then 8:00 to 10:00." Anyway, as long as within one day, it's a total of 12 hours, you're okay. This makes it tricky because you don't know, work schedules change, all sorts of things change. But you can't change the hours once you've defined them for the occupational license. You also need to define what counties. Now we always do the contiguous counties to Travis County. But if you have to go to Dallas at some point during your suspension, you will need to anticipate that and put every county that you drive through. Okay. Which is tricky, except on the internet, there's a map that'll tell you what counties are in between here and Dallas or here and San Antonio, et cetera.

So when you define the hours for an occupational license, you have to define a week. Okay. So Monday through Sunday. And you tell us, and we tell the judge that our client needs to drive on Monday these hours, on Tuesday these hours, Wednesday these hours. And they can all be different. Okay. But once you've defined the week, that's what's included in the occupational license petition and order, and that's what you're restricted to. Now that's tricky because our lives change, shifts change, and it's difficult. Unfortunately, you can't change the hours you've defined easily. We can go repetition a judge to change some, but that takes time, and they won't always agree to it. In order to get an occupational license, our clients have to provide us with five things. The first one is SR-22, which is a certificate of financial responsibility.

The second is a copy of your driving record, as the type is AR. The third is proof of employment, either a pay stub or a letter from your employer. The fourth is there's fees involved. There's a filing fee, a reinstatement fee, and an occupational driver's license fee. And the fifth is you need to come to the office and sign a verification form, which is an affidavit that we notarize for you that explains to the judge that all the information we provide in the petition is accurate. If we're going to get you the occupational license with the ignition interlock device restriction, we need to provide proof that you have that in your car. And that can be as easy as the receipt for payment for the IID. Now we're going to talk in a little more detail about the things we need from you for an occupational license.

The first is SR-22, which is a certificate of financial responsibility. Now this, when you purchase it, will come bundled with liability insurance. Although they will do a non-owners liability insurance package, so it doesn't interfere with your regular insurance. Now what SR-22 does is it communicates to the state if you stop paying for it. Okay. So this company is obligated to tell DPS if you stop paying for your insurance. The second thing we need from you is a copy of your driving record, which you can get on the DPS website, it's the AR driving record, if you have your 20 digit audit number. The 20 digit audit number is on your driver's license. And unfortunately, if you don't have your driver's license, there's no way to get this audit number. You can't call DPS and request it.

The third thing we need is proof of employment. Okay. And this can be a pay stub or a letter from your employer, or sometimes we just take a copy of a badge that shows where you work. Generally, we just need to show the judge some evidence that you have a job. If you are self-employed, you can write your own letter, just a paragraph long, preferably on letterhead describing your job and how you use vehicles to do it. If you're not employed at all, you can even write a letter just saying the types of household duties that you need to do. And even though it's up to the judge, generally the judge will accept any plausible reason that you need to drive. The fourth thing we need are the filing fees, and that can either be $51 if we can file in JP-5, or $298 if we have to file in the county court. We will always do the least expensive method that's available to us.

Additionally, there will be a reinstatement fee that's between $100 and $135, and a $10 occupational license fee. All of these fees you would pay to us, and we will pay the courts for you. The last thing we'll need is for you to come to our office and sign the verification page right here, and we will notarize it for you. If you don't live in Austin, we will mail it to you and you can get it notarized wherever you live. Once you get us everything we need for an occupational license, it takes one to three business days for us to get a judge to sign it. We will get back to you a certified copy of the occupational license, which is paperwork that you keep with you. And then DPS will send you an actual license, a regular plastic license that says occupation on it. You will need to keep both of those things together.

The paper certified copy of your occupational license is good for 45 days. DPS should send you a plastic license within that time. If they haven't, contact us and we'll call DPS and figure out what's going on. Clients sometimes ask us, "Well, what if I don't want to get an occupational license? Do I have to have one?" And the answer, of course, is no. You can use public transportation and Uber, Lyft, and ride your bike. Do whatever you want to do. The length of the suspension, it could be as short as three months, but it also could be as long as one or two years. If you change your mind, you're welcome to contact us. You can file it at any time. But we do have people that want to give it a shot and save some money by not even getting a license.