In Texas, The Texas Department of Public Safety is the licensing agency that administers drivers licenses. They have the authority to issue licenses, and can also suspend or revoke your license for a variety of reasons. Though driving is considered a privilege, and not a right, for most it is a necessity. Without a drivers license, it’s impossible for most people to get to
work, school, buy groceries, and engage in other activities required to sustain life. With respect to suspended drivers licenses, the following issues are relevant:
DWI– If you’re arrested for DWI and refuse to take a breath or blood test, you’re subject to having your drivers license suspended for a period of 180 days. If you take the test and “fail,” your license can be suspended for 90 days. In either instance, we may able to help you obtain an occupational drivers license so that you may drive, for limited purposes, during the period of suspension. Also, upon conviction for DWI, your license is subject to being suspended for an additional 180 days. However, if you receive probation, it’s possible to avoid this suspension by taking an alcohol education course.
Point system– When you’re convicted of a moving violation, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) assigns a certain number of points against your drivers license. For ordinary moving violation convictions, you are assessed two points. If you are convicted of a moving violation that occurred during an accident, an additional point is added (i.e., you receive three points). Six or more points acquired during a three year period will land you a $300 surcharge, payable to DPS. Failure to pay the surcharge will (you guessed it!) result in suspension of your drivers license.
Surcharges– Aside from the point system, you are also required to pay surcharges if you are convicted of certain traffic offenses, regardless of how many points you may have accrued. No drivers, license, no insurance (failure to maintain financial responsibility), DWI, and driving while license suspended are all examples of surcharge offenses. Surcharge amounts range from $250 for no dl tickets, all the up to $6000 for certain DWI offenses. Also, if you’ve received traffic tickets, and failed to answer for them in a timely fashion with the court, DPS will impose an OMNI fee in the amount of $30 for each violation. Even if you handle the case, and dispose of it at a later time, this OMNI fee must still be paid (even if the underlying ticket is dismissed!). Again, if you fail to pay the surcharges, DPS will not allow you to renew your license.
Drug conviction suspension– If you are convicted of possession of a controlled substance, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin, your Texas drivers license will be suspended for a period of 180 days. This suspension occurs, even if the conviction resulted from the possession of a small amount of marijuana. If convicted, you’re required to successfully complete a Drug Education Program administered by the State of Texas. If you fail to do so, your driving privileges will be suspended indefinitely until you complete the class.
Occupational drivers license– In some cases, an occupational license will allow you to drive lawfully, even if your drivers license has been suspended. Occupational drivers licenses limit you, in that you can only drive for what are considered to be “necessities” (i.e., work, school, obtain groceries, etc.). Additionally, under an ODL, you can only drive for twelve hours per day, though, in most cases, the court will allow you to select which twelve hours best suit your schedule. Finally, ODL’s typically limit your ability to drive in only counties that are adjacent to the one in which you live.
DWLI and DWLS– If you choose to drive with a suspended or invalid license, you can be charged with a crime (i.e., driving while license suspended, or driving while license invalid). Depending upon the circumstances, DWLS can be a class “A,” “B,” or “C” misdemeanor. For class “C” misdemeanors, the penalty range includes no jail time. However, you can be fined up to $500. Class “B” misdemeanors can land you in jail for up to 180 days, and get you fined up to $2000. And class “A’s” can result in up to a year in the county jail, and a $4000 fine. As if that’s not bad enough, a conviction for DWLI and DWLS can extend the length the of time your license is suspended!
Your drivers license can be suspended for a variety of reasons. In fact, many people have multiple suspensions working against them at the same time. If this has happened to you, it can be an extremely frustrating experience. The law with respect to license suspensions is complicated. At times, you may be tempted to give up. You may think, “I’m never going to be able to get my license back!” You may decide to take your chances, and drive anyway, even though you know you shouldn’t. Unfortunately, you’re only a traffic stop away from possible arrest, jail time, and an even longer suspension of your drivers license.