Drivers Hardship License Law – General – Texas
1. Does the agency (motor vehicle/DOT) law provide for hardship licenses?
Yes, an occupational license under Subchapter L Chapter 521 et seq. of the Transportation Code is available to eligible drivers. An occupational license is a special restricted license issued to persons whose license has been suspended or revoked for certain offenses (other than medical reasons or delinquent child support). An occupational license authorizes the operation of a non-commercial motor vehicle in connection with a person’s occupation, for educational purposes or in the performance of essential household duties. Requests for such licenses are made to the county or district court in the county of the licensee’s residence or to the court of original jurisdiction where the offense occurred. Texas Transportation Code Section 521.241 et seq., 37 Texas Administrative Code 15.7.
2. Is an agency hearing required before a hardship license is issued?
Yes. Transportation Code § 521.244 provides for a hearing to determine whether the driver has an “essential need” for an occupational driving license. The court will consider:
(1) the petitioner’s driving record; and
(2) any evidence presented by a person under Section 521.243 TRANSP.(b)
If the judge finds that there is an essential need, the judge also, as part of the order, shall:
(1) determine the actual need of the petitioner to operate a motor vehicle; and
(2) require the petitioner to provide evidence of financial responsibility
3. Do prior offenses prevent me from obtaining a hardship license?
The driving record of the petitioner may be considered by the court. Only one occupational driving license may be issued in a ten-year period. Prior alcohol or drug related offenses will delay the waiting period for the occupational license to become effective.
4. What are the requirements for getting a hardship license?
The driver must show an essential need to drive
(1) in the performance of an occupation or trade or for transportation to and from the place at which the person practices the person’s occupation or trade;
(2) for transportation to and from an educational facility in which the person is enrolled; or
(3) in the performance of essential household duties. The certified copy of the petition and a certified copy of the court order granting the occupational license.
The court may require counseling or installation of an ignition interlock device.
The driver must provide:
(1)An original pink SR-22 certificate of insurance. This is the only proof of insurance acceptable.
(2)SR-37 (data for texas occupational driver license).
(3)An occupational license fee for a one-year license or less. The maximum length of issuance is a 2-year license, provided that the court order grants this length of time.
(4)A statutory reinstatement fee for the Safety Responsibility suspension, if required.
(5)A statutory reinstatement fee for the Driver Improvement suspension, if required.
(6)A statutory reinstatement fee for the Administrative License Revocation (ALR), if required.
5. Can minors receive limited driving privileges?
Yes. § 524.022 of the Transportation Code allows occupational licenses for minors, subject to certain waiting periods if there are prior convictions.
6. Is the court order the occupational license?
No, this is the order granting the occupational license. The court order and all other required items need to be submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) so an occupational license can be issued. 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.
7. Can you drive a commercial motor vehicle with an occupational license?
No, if a person’s driver license or privilege is suspended, revoked, cancelled, or denied under any law in this state, the person may not be granted an occupational or essential need license to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Texas Transportation Code 522.086, Texas Transportation Code 522.089.