Occupational Driver’s License (ODL) in Texas

If your license is suspended in Texas, you may be eligible for an Occupational Driver’s License (known as an ODL). An ODL is a form of restricted license that allows you to drive during certain periods of time and only for certain “essential” needs like taking care of children, going to work, court appointments, doctor appointments and the like. We have compiled more information about ODLs below.

License suspensions typically occur as as result of failing to request an ALR Hearing after a DWI arrest, or after losing an ALR hearing or after a DWI conviction. The rules for obtaining an ODL are different depending on your particular circumstances, and they can be extremely complex. No matter what, you will have to file a Petition for an Occupational Driver’s License with a court. If the license suspension occurred as a result of a DWI conviction, you can only petition the court in which you were convicted.

DPS will require that you have an SR-22 on file during the period your license is suspended. You may choose any company that offers SR-22 insurance. However, there are important things you should know about SR-22 insurance before you purchase it.

The law allows you to drive with an ODL for a maximum of four hours per 24 hour period, but the Court may waive the minimum and allow up to a maximum of twelve hours based upon certain essential needs.
The courts in Dallas and Collin County prefer to use a driving schedule. For example:

  • Monday – Friday – 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (12 hours)
  • Saturday – Sunday – 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. (12 hours)

Links to answers about some frequently asked questions about ODLs are below.

Other Important Notes about ODLs

It is important to note that the court order is NOT the occupational license. It is the order granting the occupational license. The court order and all other required items must be submitted to the Department of Public Safety for issuance of an occupational license. The court order may be used as a license for 30 days from the date of the Judge’s signature while DPS processes the occupational license request.

There are certain limitations on your ability to get an ODL. Under certain circumstances, you will not be eligible for an ODL (usually this occurs if you have had more than one ODL because of a DWI conviction). And depending on whether you have had prior license suspensions, you may have a waiting period before an ODL can take effect. These factors and others can make the ODL process complex.

Important Information about SR-22 Insurance

Financial Responsibility Form SR-22
This is what an SR-22 Financial Responsibility Form looks like

An SR-22 (also known as a Financial Responsibility Form) is an endorsement that is attached to an insurance policy. Many people mistakenly believe that it is a separate insurance policy, but in fact it is a tool used by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) that transfers the responsibility of monitoring the policy status to the company that issued the SR-22.

If you want to get an Occupational Driver’s License (ODL), you will need to get SR-22 insurance. DPS requires you to send in a Financial Responsibility Certificate after you get an ODL.

When an SR-22 is issued and filed with DPS, the company that issued the SR-22 monitors the status of the policy to which the SR-22 is attached. The SR-22 remains effective until the issuing company notifies DPS that the policy has terminated. Many insurance companies consider the SR-22 to be high-risk and will not be happy if you try to get them to issue the form, and this will usually flag the policy for non-renewal. Other companies may issue the SR-22 but move your policy into a high-risk category, significantly raising your rates–and don’t forget, all drivers and vehicles on a policy are forced into the high-risk pool.

Some insurance agents will try to sell you a non-owners policy written through the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association (TAIPA)–the “state pool.” This causes numerous problems. The process forces a company to provide the SR-22 to you, so many of these companies are actively looking for a reason to cancel your policy, something that is very easy to do. Since the assigned company is not required to provide insurance for a driver with a suspended license, they can simply cancel the policy and remove themselves from the risk. Additionally, it might take weeks before you actually receive the SR-22.

When you choose a company to provide you with an SR-22, find a company that will email you a copy of the SR-22 in addition to the SR-37. This will save annoyance and hassle. You can visit the Texas Department of Insurance for a complete list of insurance companies that provide SR-22s.

There are several other considerations in choosing a proper SR-22 insurance source. I’m always happy to discuss, so please give me a call at (888) 239-9305 or contact the Dallas office via email here.