Suspended Licenses, DWLI

Driving While License Invalid or Suspended?

Driving While License Invalid or Suspended (commonly referred to as DWLI or DWLS) is a criminal offense charged when an individual drives a motor vehicle at a time when their Driver's License is either invalid or suspended. The suspension can be the result of any violation of DPS's administrative rules; too many points, unpaid fees, failures to appear, unpaid tickets, and driving offense convictions.

The most common DWLI or DWLS is when a person pays certain tickets: No Insurance or Driving on a Suspended License. Also, paying off old, past due tickets, can result in more suspensions. By paying the tickets, a conviction for the offense is listed on the person's record.

You can read the specific Statute and more information on Punishments for DWLI below.

What You Need to Know

DO NOT Plea or Pay the Ticket! Again, if you have a DWLI, DWLS, or No Insurance Ticket, DO NOT Plea or Pay the Ticket! Why? The fine is just a small part of the punishment associated with a DWLI ticket or case. The real punishment is added DPS fees, reinstatement fees, and additional suspensions of your driver's license. If convicted of a DWLI or DWLS, your license will be suspended by DPS due to the Conviction, between 6 months up to 2 years. You'll be subject to a Reinstatement Fee to DPS in addition to the Court costs and fines, which generally is over a $1,000.

A conviction also gives the driver 'points' on their driving record. Most people come to the conclusion that they can avoid the fees and suspensions if they instead spend that money -- often less -- on an attorney.

So What Types of Suspensions will cause a Suspension? Too many points or unpaid tickets are the most common reasons for suspensions, however paying or pleading on certain tickets will cause a suspension as well, including Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility (No Insurance), DWLI, and DWLS. There are more, but those are the most common.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) will cause a suspension of a Texas Driver's License, between 90 days and 1 year. This is true for DWI, DWI with an Open container, and DWI with a BAC greater than .15%. If the DWI defendant is under 21 years old, it will be a 1 year suspension; if the DWI is controlled substance/drug related, and not alcohol, the minimum suspension is 180 days, or six months.

A 2nd DWI will cause a suspension between 6 months and 2 years, but if the first DWI was within five years of the second, the minimum suspension increases to 1 year. While all DWIs possibly have two license suspensions, at the (ALR hearing and by the Court), this is only an issue in Austin for DWI Second Offense or more.

Underage Drinking and Alcohol offenses, if ending in a conviction, will cause a License Suspension. Also, Drug and Controlled Substance (POCS) convictions for both adults and minors (including Marijuana/POM) will cause a 180 day suspension of a Texas Driver's License, which will not be reinstated ever unless the offender completes the 15 hour DOEP class.

Occupational Licenses

An Occupational License allows a person to legally drive while thier license is ineligible (or suspended). Keates Law Firm can help you drive legally within a few days. Be sure to read about Occupational License to see if one might work for you.



Defenses for Driving While License Suspended or Invalid

One of the best ways to avoid a conviction (and additional suspension) is to obtain an Occupational License. By doing so, you're showing the court and prosecutor that you are legally driving, and giving them incentive to dismiss the case. Keates Law Firm can help get you an Occupational License, handle your DWLI with the aim of getting is dismissed, and help clear up any old tickets along the way.

If you'd like to talk in detail about your situation, or if you have questions, contact us for a Free Case Consultation. Keep in mind, Keates Law Firm only practices in Austin and Travis County.


Work with an Experienced Driving While License Suspended or Invalid Attorney

Hiring the right attorney from the beginning is important. Poor legal decisions will have a negative effect upon the case as it progresses. The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling Driving While License Suspended or Invalid cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.


Call Us to talk about your particular case and situation. It's a 100% Free Phone Consultation with Criminal Defense Attorney Keates. No Sales Pitches, No Hassles. We'll see if we are the right Law Firm for you, and give you a quote. Be sure to check out Keates Law Firm's Reviews and also our past cases and Results.


How We Can Help

Your goal should be Dismissal for any Driving While License Suspended or Invalid charge. A Dismissal will allow a person to later seek an Expunction of a Criminal Record, which is where a Judge Orders the offense records destroyed, including police reports, court records, and prosecutor files.

Keates Law Firm has a track record of dismissals for Driving While License Suspended or Invalid.

Benefits of Working with Keates Law Firm:

  • Direct Access to Attorney's Email and Cell (Texting Okay!)
  • Robert handles your case, not a junior lawyer
  • Trusted, Local, BBB+
  • Free Case Consultations
  • Payment Plans available
  • Transparent Fees - No Unexpected Fees!
  • Proven Results, Recent Not Guilty Verdicts and Dismissals.



Our Reviews and Results

Our Results Speak for Themselves. Keates Law Firm has a record of Dismissals and Acquittals in a variety of criminal cases. We are dismissal focused, and we get results.
  • DWI Jury Trial: NOT GUILTY
  • Harassment Offense: Jury Trial: NOT GUILTY
  • Felony Possession of Marijuana/Hashish Dismissed
  • DWI 2nd (Drugs): Dismissed
  • DWI (Alcohol and Drugs): Dismissed
  • Felony Theft of Stolen Property: Dismissed
  • Assault, Bodily Injury: Jury Trial: NOT GUILTY
  • See More Results!

Sec. 521.457. DRIVING WHILE LICENSE INVALID.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person operates a motor vehicle on a highway: (1) after the person's driver's license has been canceled under this chapter if the person does not have a license that was subsequently issued under this chapter; (2) during a period that the person's driver's license or privilege is suspended or revoked under any law of this state; (3) while the person's driver's license is expired if the license expired during a period of suspension;

What are the Punishments?

Punishments for a DWLI or DWLS are generally fines and court costs; rarely in Austin does a Suspended License ticket result in jail time or probation, especially if you have an attorney who can help you get a valid license or Occupational License.


Penalties for Driving While License Invalid
Level of Offense Punishment
Class C Misdemeanor Not Jailable, No more than $500 fines
Class B Misdemeanor Not more than 180 days in a county jail, and/or no more than $2,000 fines
Class A Misdemeanor Not more than 1 year in a county jail, and/or no more than $4,000 fines

Frequently Asked Questions



Do I need an Attorney to get an Occupational License?
No. But the process for getting an Occupational License is a little different for attorneys. We can speed up the process, navigate the court system and the clerk's office, and E-File your documents to get the earliest hearing date possible. Plus, we do all the paperwork for you, and go to court for you. All you'll need to do is sign some papers, get insurance and a few other items, and you're done.

Do I need to clear traffic warrants and tickets, or pay all my DPS Surcharges first?
No. The Occupational License lets you drive over the suspension, regardless of unpaid tickets or owed surcharges. You'll need to take care of those items before your actual Texas Driver's License can be reinstated, but they will not prohibit you from using an Occupational License in the meantime. BUT! Surcharges (aside from DWI) are now over in Texas, as of 2019.

I have several warrants for outstanding tickets. Can I still get an Occupational License?
Yes, a lawyer can help obtain an Occupational License even if you have pending ticket or cases, whether in Austin or elsewhere. This also includes warrants, although it's always a good idea to clear up active warrants. You will need to pay or resolve the warrants and tickets before having your actual Driver's license reinstated in the future.

How Long do Occupational Licenses last?
We make our Occupational Licenses valid for up to two years, as long as the Judge agrees. At the end of two years, if your driver's license is still suspended, a Lawyer can apply for an extension.

What if I never had a License? Can I still get an Occupational License?
If you were never issued a Texas Driver's License, or your license has expired, a Lawyer can arrange a new driver's test with Austin or Travis County DPS to validate your Occupational License

When Can I Get My Regular License Back?
It depends on your suspensions and lengths, as well as the fees and surcharges you owe. Each case is different, but our lawyers handle a variety of ODL cases.

What is SR22 and why do I need it?
SR22 is a component of auto insurance that notified the State (Austin DPS) if you lapse in coverage. in other words, SR22 guarantees that Austin DPS will know if you don't have insurance. It is required on all Occupational Driver's Licenses, even if you have never had a DWI in Austin or Texas.

Can I get an Occupational License myself, without a Lawyer?
You may be able to, depending on the County and Court/Judge, but compared to other types of lawyers fees, Occupational Licenses are reasonably priced (at least with our office). The law and standard forms are constantly changing, and you want an Occupational License done correctly the first time, so you can legally drive as soon as possible. The wisest choice is to have an lawyer complete the process -- plus, you don't have to come to court! (in Austin only).

What are my chances of having the Occupational License granted if I hire you?
Unless you have a very rare convictions such as Vehicular Assault or Manslaughter, then the chances are extremely high of the Occupational License being granted. At worst, a Judge may question certain hours or locations, but typically the Petition is granted.

How Long will it take for you to get my Occupational License?
An Occupational License typically takes about a week to obtain through our office, although we have obtained Occupational Licenses for some clients the very next day. The faster you can gather the required items necessary to obtain an Occupational License, the faster we can set the hearing and get you driving legally.

Do you Offer Payment Plans for Occupational Licenses?
Usually no, since the process for an Occupational License is so quick -- often a week or less. However, through Paypal we can now offer our clients no interest financing with no payments for six months. See the banner logo at the top right of this page.

When Can I Start Driving After the Occupational License is Granted?
As soon as the Certified Order is in your car, along with SR22 insurance, you can legally start driving. That means you can begin driving once the hearing is finished and we return the paperwork to you.

What are my chances of having the Occupational License granted if I hire you?
Unless you have a very rare convictions such as Vehicular Assault or Manslaughter, then the chances are extremely high of the Occupational License being granted. At worst, a Judge may question certain hours or locations, but typically the Petition is granted.

How Long will it take for you to get my Occupational License?
An Occupational License typically takes about a week to obtain through our office, although we have obtained Occupational Licenses for some clients the very next day. The faster you can gather the required items necessary to obtain an Occupational License, the faster we can set the hearing and get you driving legally.

Can I use my Class A or B License for Commercial Driving with an Occupational?
No, Occupational Licenses cannot be used for a Class A Commercial Driver's License; only for personal Class C Texas Driver's Licenses.

Is there a Logbook Requirement in Travis County?
Yes, all County Court Judges in Travis County are now requiring a Log Book to be kept, noting when and where you're driving.

Are the Requirements Different for Occupational Licenses after a DWI?
They can be, mainly requiring an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), which is a device installed in your car that tests your breath for alcohol prior to starting the vehicle. Occupational Licenses based on a DWI suspension are also subject to closer scrutiny in terms of hours and locations being requested to drive upon.

Will you also handle my DWI or DWLI?
Yes, Keates Law Firm practices a broad range of Criminal Defense cases, and can handle your DWI and DWLS/DWLI case along with the Occupational License; in fact, when we're handling your case, such as a DWI or DWLI, we don't charge you extra for the Occupational License -- it's included!

When can I get my regular Texas Driver's License back?
At the end of your suspension period, assuming you have picked up no new tickets/offenses and assuming you are current or have paid off surcharges, you will be eligible for your Texas Driver's License (since you've paid the reinstatement fees ahead of time). It's always our advise to check with DPS the day before, and after, your suspension is supposed to be up, since DPS may change your status.

What is a Hardship License?
There are several terms used to describe a temporary license in Texas, used when a person's normal DPS issued driver's license has been suspended: Hardship License, Revoked Permit, Temporary Driver's Order, and more. But the legal term and one most commonly used is an Occupational Driver's License.

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