'Occupational' Licenses for School in Texas DWI Cases

If a get a temporary suspension of my driver’s license in Texas can I get a permit for school? [from a recent Google query]

I’m not 100% sure what is meant by ‘a temporary suspension’ but let me piece this together if I can.

Sounds like the question may refer to being arrested for DWI in Texas, having your driver’s license confiscated (not returned after your release from jail) and being issued a piece of paper that says ‘Notice of Suspension’ and ‘Temporary Driver’s License’. 

The answer to the question, in that case is this: if you qualify for an occupational driver’s license, then your DWI lawyer should include in the petition that you be allowed to drive not only ‘to and from work’ (i.e., your occupation) but also ‘to and from school’. You will probably need to provide your attorney with some form of proof that you are in school, such as an official list of the classes that you are in this semester.

Your lawyer will then also need to know the hours that you will need to drive for classes, studying at the library, etc. The default amount of time to drive per day is usually 4 hours, but it’s not unusual to get an extension of that up to 12 hours a day, which is the statutory maximum.

DWI lawyers tend to refer to ‘occupational licenses’ and that is indeed their official name. But I prefer to call it an ‘essential needs’ license, because you can be granted the right to drive to work, school, church, groceries, etc. Everywhere you need to go. Just not everywhere you want to go 24/7.

The DIC-25 Notice of Suspension, Temporary Driving Permit after DWI arrest

If you have been arrested for DWI in Texas, chances are that your Driver’s License was confiscated before you were released from jail. In that case, you should also have been given several other pieces of paperwork, including a form called the DIC-25.

The DIC-25 is titled “Notice of Suspension” and “Temporary Driving Permit”. Your license is not immediately suspended, as many folks think. Instead this piece of paper serves as your temporary driver’s license. (In Austin DWI cases, the forms are usually yellow.)

About halfway down the page, in a box is some text:

If your Texas driver license was confiscated, this document will serve as your temporary dirving permit. It is subject to the same restrictions and endorsements as your Texas driver license. If you hold a commercial driver license, this permit authorizes the operation of commercial motor vehicles. This permit does not provide you with any driving privileges if you do not have a Texas driver license or if your Texas driver license is expired, suspended, revoked, cancelled, or disqualified. This permit is valid for 40 days from the date of service shown below. If you request a hearing, this permit will remain in effect until the administrative law judge makes a final decision in your case.

So this form is a substitute for your Texas DL. But I usually advise clients to run down to DPS and apply for a Texas ID card. It looks virtually identical to a DL, and you don’t want to wait until you need to get on an airplane to figure out that picture ID’s are useful.

Also, it’s common for folks to ask me whether this permit is good beyond the 40 days. The answer is in two parts:

(a) No, it is only good for 40 days, if you did not request a hearing to contest the suspension within 15 days of the arrest.

(b) If you requested a hearing, then, as the text says “the permit will remain in effect until the administrative law judge makes a final decision” in the ALR hearing. If you hired a DWI lawyer within the time limit, they will usually do this for you. (Although, you should probably ask.)

Texas DWI Driver's License Suspensions

Folks arrested for first time DWI offenses in Austin often come to my office surprised that their physical driver’s license was taken from them before their release from jail.

Many believe that their license is currently suspended, before they have even gone to court. The truth is that the license suspension is not concurrent with the confiscation that happens the night of the arrest.

In Texas, a person arrested for DWI, whose license was taken before they were released, has the right to contest the drivers license suspension, as long as they (or more likely, their lawyer) makes the proper request to the Texas Department of Public Safety within fifteen (15) days.

This blog will cover issues relating to the Texas Administrative Driver’s License Revocation procedure (the ALR hearing), as well as the process by which a DWI defendant may obtain an occupational license to allow them to keep driving to work, school, church, groceries, and all the important places (not necessarily to all the fun places we like to go sometimes).