If my license is suspended for DWI, can I still drive to work?
If you are facing a charge for DWI and your license is suspended, you may be eligible for what is known as an Occupational Driver’s License or ODL for short. This type of license allows a person to drive a non-commercial vehicle if their license is suspended, revoked, or denied because of DWI.
To be eligible for an ODL you cannot have had more than one ODL granted to you in the last 10 years. Also, Occupational driver’s licenses cannot be granted for people with a CDL or any type of commercial license.
Is there a waiting period?
According to Texas Transportation Code section 521.251(a), if this is your first offense, you are immediately eligible for an ODL. You cannot have any prior alcohol or drug related contact or if you have had a prior alcohol or drug related contact, it must not be within 5 years of this new offense and not resulted in a conviction.
If you have had a suspension of your driver’s license within 5 years because of an alcohol or drug related contact, prior to your new DWI case, an ODL cannot be granted once the new suspension begins, for 91 days.
If you have been convicted of an alcohol or drug related offense within 5 years of your DWI, you must wait 181 days from when your license is suspended.
And finally, if you are facing your 2nd DWI and the first resulted in a conviction within 5 years of your new offense, you must wait 1 year before the ODL can be granted.
If you are eligible and you know you’re waiting period, you must then show the court you have an essential need to drive. Texas Transportation Code section 521.241(1)(a) defines what an “essential need” is; for performance of occupation or trade, or for transportation to and from your occupation or trade, if you need to get to school, and for any household duties that you need to take care of (household duties can include, grocery shopping, attending church, picking up kids, etc.)
Time limits and area of driving.
If you are granted an ODL there will be a time limit restriction that will restrict you to driving for a certain amount of time. In general, you may only be allowed to drive no more than 4 hours in a 24-hour time period. But, upon necessity, the court may waive that limit and allow you to drive no more than 12 hours in that 24-hour time period.
You will also need to specify to the court what counties you have the essential need to drive in and may possibly have to explain this to the judge.
If you would like for us to assist you in obtaining an occupational driver’s license, the process is fairly easy. First, we will make sure you are eligible for an ODL and what, if any, your waiting period might be. Then, we will draft a petition to the court, explaining the essential need, whether we need a 4-hour limit or the 12-hour limit and what counties you will need to drive in. The court will then set a hearing for you and your attorney to go before the judge and explain your need for the ODL. If granted, the judge will sign the order and that will be your “license” during the time of your suspension.