Texas Restricted License

Texas has three types of restricted licenses: a learner’s license, a hardship license, and an occupational license. Here’s how to get each one.
Written by Samuel Todd
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Texas has three types of restricted licenses: a learner’s license, a hardship license, and an occupational license. Learner’s licenses and hardship licenses are for drivers between the ages of 15 and 18, and occupational licenses are for drivers who have had their license suspended or revoked.
Navigating the different restricted licenses in Texas can seem like a daunting task—but have no fear! Top-rated
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What is a restricted license in Texas?

There are three different restricted licenses in Texas:
  • Learner’s license
    : New Texas drivers, between the ages of 15 and 18, will have some safety restrictions placed on their license.
  • Hardship license (minor’s restricted driver's license): Some teens can receive full driving privilege if their family demonstrates that they will face serious economic hardship without it.
  • Occupational license: Drivers who had their license suspended or revoked can apply for an occupational license, which will allow them to travel for work, school, or other essential duties.
MORE: How to get cheap car insurance for young drivers

How to get a Texas learner’s license

Whew—once you’ve completed all of those requirements, congratulations! You’re on your way to getting a full-privilege driver’s license. In the meantime, there are some restrictions you’ll have to keep in mind. 

Restrictions on a Texas learner’s license

Here’s a quick run-through of the restrictions that come with a Texas learner’s license:
  • You must have a licensed adult, 21 years or older in the front seat when you drive
  • You cannot use a cellphone or hands-free device unless it’s an emergency
  • You cannot have any other passengers
Don’t worry—even though these restrictions are pretty strict, they only last for six months! After you’ve held your learner’s license for a total of six months (or turned 18), you’re ready to get your provisional driver’s license.

How to get a Texas hardship license

If you’re between the ages of 15 and 18 and you need full driving privileges right away, Texas allows you to apply for a hardship license (also known as a minor’s restricted driver's license). Here’s what you’ll need to do:
  • Complete all requirements of a learner’s license (including a driver education course, vision test, knowledge exam, and driving test)
  • Demonstrate one of the following to the
    Department of Public Safety
  • The hardship license is necessary due to the family’s economic burden
  • The hardship license is necessary due to a family member’s illness
  • The hardship license is required for the minor’s
    VOE program
Once the DPS reviews your application, they’ll issue a hardship license, which has no restrictions. Essentially, it’s the same as skipping to your full-privilege driver’s license right away!
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How to get a Texas occupational license

Finally, if your license was suspended or revoked for a violation (for example, a
reckless driving
conviction), you can apply for a
Texas occupational license
This is a two-step process. First, you need to obtain a court order for an occupational license by petitioning:
  • The Justice of the Peace
  • The county or district court where you reside
  • The court of original jurisdiction where the offense occurred
Though the exact petition you need to fill out varies by court, here’s an
example of a petition
from the Travis County Law Library. Be sure to have your personal information, license information, and information surrounding your offense available—you’ll need each of them to fill out the petition. 
Once the court reviews and approves your petition, it’s time for step two: applying for an occupational license through the Texas DPS. Here’s what you’ll need to submit:
Mail these documents to the Texas DPS:
Texas Department of Public Safety
Enforcement and Compliance Service
P.O. Box 15999
Austin, TX 78761-5999
Once you’ve completed this process, the Texas DPS asks that you allow 21 days for processing. After that, as long as you don’t have an extended waiting period, the DPS should issue your occupational license!

Restrictions on a Texas occupational license

Occupational license restrictions are super simple. While you’re driving with an occupational license, you can use your car for:
  • Work
  • Performance of essential household duties
  • School-related activities

How to find affordable car insurance in Texas

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