Difference Between a Hardship License and an Occupational License
The Beltz Law Firm
It is not uncommon for our office to field calls from prospective clients requesting that we obtain a “Hardship” license. Well, so far, no one neither needed nor qualified for a hardship license. Rather, they were really wanting an occupational license. The two “restricted” licenses are often thought of as being interchangeable, but, most of the time they really refer to an occupational license. I will explain the difference between the two so that you may understand when and where each type of restricted license may apply.
First, the laws concerning a hardship license can be found in Section 521.223 of the Texas Transportation Code. That section provides that the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) may issue a license to a person who is 15 years old or older and passed a drivers education course and passed the written and operations exam and a failure to issue a license will result in an unusual economic hardship for the person’s family OR the license is necessary because of an illness of a member of the person’s family OR the license is necessary because the person is currently enrolled in vocational program which requires a drivers license to participate in the program. The key here is that there is serious need to issue the license when the person may not be fully qualified to obtain a license in the first place. Often times, hardship licenses are issued to drivers under 16 years old but older than 14 years old. Hardship licenses are unrestricted licenses in that the holder is not required to drive at restricted times or in certain places like an occupational license. The hardship license statute does not specifically state that it is available for person’s with license suspensions, per se. However, DPS does not issue hardship licenses to persons whose driving privileges have been suspended, canceled, or revoked. The idea to remember is that hardship licenses are not “punishments” for drivers whose licenses become suspended. Rather, it is to help those who would not have qualified otherwise for a normal Class C license. Also, a person applies for a hardship license through DPS directly.
Occupational licenses, on the other hand, are very restricted licenses which must be court ordered and cost a lot of money. Occupational licenses are issued to persons who already have a driver’s license but the license has been suspended, canceled, or revoked due to criminal convictions. The reason for the restrictions on an Occupational license is because the petitioner has demonstrated that he/she cannot operate a motor vehicle in a safe and lawful manner. Therefore, their privilege to driver has been removed temporarily but the person must be able to drive to work and perform essential household duties. Unlike a hardship license, a person wanting an occupational license must petition the proper court for the privilege of driving with an occupational license.
As you can see, the two types of licenses are not interchangeable. They were created for different situations and with different participants in mind. Our office can help you choose which license best suits your personal needs. Call our office for a free consultation regarding your license situation.