An occupational driver’s license (ODL) is granted in some states to those whose full license has been suspended or revoked for certain offenses (i.e. DUI). The ODL is usually a special, restricted license to drive.

In Texas, an occupational driver’s license authorizes the operation of a non-commercial motor vehicle for purposes of your occupation, educational, medical, or essential household duties.

In Wisconsin, an occupational license is a restricted driver’s license. Unlike a regular license, an occupational license limits when and where you can drive. You may only drive to and from work or church or other places indicated on the license and during specific times of the day. You may not use an occupational license for recreational purposes.

If you operate outside those specific hours or for a purpose not permitted on the license, you may be arrested for operating after suspension or revocation. So if your ODL has restrictions such as this, then your state may not allow you to rent a car if they find its use to be recreational.

If you need to travel through another state, check to see if they allow operation with a Wisconsin occupational license. All states may not honor an out-of-state occupational license.

Occupational licenses authorizing the operation of commercial motor vehicles cannot be issued, as required by the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999.

Can you rent a car with an occupational driver’s license?

Car rental companies view an occupational license with great suspicion and many companies choose not to rent vehicles to individuals holding such a license. Rental car company guidelines can differ from one company to the next. Also, some rental agencies have varying rules depending on the location of the rental car office.

For instance, Avis (Car rental company) states that a the time of rental, the renter or authorized driver may be subject to an electronic DMV check from the issuing state of the driver’s license or may be asked to sign a declaration attesting to specific criteria:

  • The renter/authorized driver has a valid license that is not currently suspended, expired, revoked, canceled or surrendered.
  • The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 36 months had 1 or more convictions for reckless driving.
  • The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 48 months had 1 or more convictions for driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or driving while alcohol impaired (DWAI).
  • The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 36 months failed to report or leave the scene of an accident.
  • The renter/authorized driver has never been in possession of a stolen vehicle or used a vehicle in a crime.
  • The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 24 months, had 3 or more convictions for moving violations (including seat belt violations).
  • The renter/authorized driver has not, within the last 36 months 3 or more accidents.

To find out if you can rent a car from a certain rental agency in a certain area, you will need to contact that rental car company directly to see if their guidelines allow for you to rent a car with your occupational driver’s license and the associated restrictions you have on you.

— Michelle Megna contributed to this story.

Sources:

  1. Texas Department of Public Safety. “Occupational Driver License.” Accessed January 2023.
  2. State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation. “Occupational License.” Accessed January 2023.
  3. Avis Car Rental. “WHAT DO I NEED TO RENT A CAR?” Accessed January 2023.
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Contributing Writer

Shivani Gite is a personal finance and insurance writer with a degree in journalism and mass communication. She is passionate about making insurance topics easy to understand for people and helping them make better financial decisions. When not writing, you can find her reading a book or watching anime.