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occupational / restricted/ hardship license

A driver whose license has been suspended or revoked following arrest for a DUI/DWI charge may sometimes apply for an occupational or restricted driver’s license to perform essential life functions until the driver is able to seek to have their driver’s license reinstated. This temporary and limited driver’s license is known by a number of names, including an occupational license, a restricted license, an essential need license, a hardship license, or a limited driving privilege (LDP) license.

Laws regarding the availability and use of such restricted licenses vary from state to state but generally allow the driver to drive to and from (1) work; (2) school, college, or university; (3) places the driver must visit to maintain the household, including the grocery store or market, pharmacy, laundromat, and gas station; (4) church or place of worship; (5) medical appointments; and (6) court-ordered alcohol treatment and rehabilitation programs. Driving to visit family or friends or to attend social events is not permitted on a restricted license.

A person applying for an occupational or restricted driver’s license will be required to pay application fees to the department of motor vehicles and will often be required to submit an SR-22 proof of insurance form (see the related subtopic).

Laws regarding the availability and use of restricted licenses following a DUI/DWI arrest are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the vehicle code, motor vehicle code, or transportation code.

In Texas, individuals whose driver's licenses have been suspended or revoked due to a DUI/DWI arrest may apply for an occupational license, which is a type of restricted driver's license. This license allows them to drive for essential needs such as going to work, school, performing household duties, attending church, medical appointments, and participating in court-ordered treatment programs. Driving for non-essential activities like visiting family or attending social events is not permitted with an occupational license. Applicants must pay fees and typically provide an SR-22 insurance form, which is a certificate of financial responsibility. The Texas Transportation Code outlines the specific provisions and requirements for obtaining an occupational license, including eligibility criteria, application procedures, and restrictions on use. An attorney can help navigate the application process and ensure compliance with all legal requirements.

Texas Statutes & Rules

Federal Statutes & Rules

23 U.S.C. § 164 - Minimum penalties for repeat offenders for driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence
This federal statute is relevant as it sets minimum standards for state laws regarding repeat DUI/DWI offenders, which can influence the conditions under which a restricted license may be issued.

Under 23 U.S.C. § 164, states are required to enact and enforce laws that provide minimum penalties for individuals who are repeat offenders for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The statute mandates that states must revoke the driver's license of an individual who is convicted of a second or subsequent DUI/DWI offense for a period of at least one year. However, states have the discretion to issue restricted driving privileges during this revocation period, provided that the individual uses an ignition interlock device for the duration of the restricted driving period. If a state fails to comply with these requirements, a portion of its federal-aid highway funds may be withheld. This federal law sets a baseline for state laws regarding repeat DUI/DWI offenders and indirectly affects the issuance of restricted licenses by requiring the use of ignition interlock devices as a condition for obtaining such licenses.

23 U.S.C. § 303 - Use of safety belts and motorcycle helmets
This statute is relevant as it provides federal guidance on safety measures, which can impact state laws regarding driving privileges, including the issuance of restricted licenses.

23 U.S.C. § 303 encourages states to enact and enforce laws that require the use of safety belts in passenger vehicles and helmets for motorcyclists. While this statute does not directly address restricted licenses, it reflects the federal government's interest in promoting safe driving practices. Compliance with safety belt and helmet laws may be a condition for the issuance of a restricted license following a DUI/DWI arrest. States that demonstrate a high rate of compliance with these safety measures may receive additional federal grant funds, which can influence state policies on driving privileges and the enforcement of DUI/DWI-related laws. The connection between safety measures and restricted licenses lies in the broader context of promoting responsible driving behavior, especially for those with a history of DUI/DWI offenses.