Driver’s License Suspension for Drug Convictions
Texas Transportation Code Section 521 governs Texas driver’s licenses. It is available online on several different sites for everyone to read. It governs suspensions as well as regulates how and when licenses are issued.
The Texas Legislature has amended Section 521 to include a suspension of a Texas driver’s license for all drug convictions. This can include all manufacturing and delivering convictions, all possession convictions including marijuana convictions, and possession of drug paraphernalia convictions. If you receive a conviction for any drug charge, your driver’s license is going to be suspended by DPS for 180 days (6 months).
If you do not have a license, your privileges are still going to be suspended and you will be denied issuance of a license for 180 days.
You are usually eligible for an occupational license duing this time to continue to drive for work and other necessary tasks.
If you receive a drug conviction in another state, and it is reported to Texas DPS, you will receive a 180 suspension. It does not matter that it was not a Texas conviction.
You will only be suspended if you are convicted of the drug charge. If your case is dismissed, if the charge is amended to a non drug charge, or if you receive deferred adjudication you will not be suspended.
If you are convicted of an “attempted” drug charge, such as a Class A misdemeanor attempted negotiated down from a felony possession charge, you may or may not be suspended. If it is reported by the Clerk under the statute that governs attempted drug charges, you will be suspended. If it is reported under the statute that governs general attempted crimes, which is under the Penal Code instead of the Health and Safety Code, you may not receive a suspension. Your laywer does not control how it is reported and this cannot be negotiated with the prosecution. You will need to check with DPS in a few weeks or a month to discover if you have received a suspension.
In order to get your license back after the 180 days have run, you will be required to get take a Texas certified 15 hour drug offender education class. You can take that class as early as the conviction is entered, but the 180 days will still have to run before you can get your license back. Even after the 180 days has run, if you have not taken the class, you will not be allowed to reinstate your license until you do.
Travis County Counseling and Education Services (https://www.traviscountytx.gov/counseling-education) offers one of these classes. You will need a referral form, which you can get online or from your lawyer in court. You do not need the assessment unless told otherwise. You can simply sign up for the 15 hour class. It will cost $80. If you cannot afford it, you can ask your lawyer to ask the judge to waive the counseling and education services fee with an order. You will need to take this order and the referral form with you to enroll in the class. The judge may inquire as to your income before s/he signs the order to determine if you are entitled to it. This order will only be accepted bythe county. It will not be accepted by a private entity licensed to administer the classes. An online class may be acceptable as long as it is certified.
You will have to pay a reinstatement fee of $100 to get the license back. That can be paid during or after the 180 days, but you will not be eligible to drive until it is. If you get an occupational, you will have to pay the reinstatement to get the occupational processed and issued by DPS.
You will not get a surcharge assessed for a drug conviction.
I often encounter clients who do not want to or feel they cannot take the 15 hour class in exchange for a dismissal of a marijuana or other misdemeanor drug charge. I think it is far better to take the class in exchange for a dismissal, which keeps your criminal history clear, than having to take it afterward to get your license back. You have to take the class either way, and doing it prior to the conviction may help keep the conviction off your record. If your lawyer asks you to do the class, the best thing to do is listen to your lawyer and take the class.