The Lone Star State offers veterans and current military service people a number of benefits and perks, but there are also a number of important laws and regulations that must be followed when obtaining a license. Let’s consider some of the more important elements revolving around veteran and military driver laws and benefits in the state of Texas.
License and registration tax and fee exemption
The state of Texas offers free drivers licenses and ID cards to US veterans in several different instances. However, the veteran must meet one or more of the following criteria in order to be eligible for an exemption on the license fee. Note that commercial driver’s license fees are not waived for vets.
- The veteran must have been honorably discharged.
- The vet must have a disability related to his or her service, and it must be at least 60%.
- The vet cannot be subjected to sex offender registration.
- The veteran must receive disability-related compensation.
Disabled veterans receive a complete waiver on the fee for their license, so long as they meet the requirements above.
Driver’s license veteran designation
The Texas DPS allows veterans to have a designation on their card (qualifying vets). This takes the form of the word “Veteran” printed in bold letters on the face of the license or ID card. Note that having this designation added during renewal or when obtaining a new license is free. You’ll need to pay the new license fee to add it any any other time, unless you are a disabled veteran. Anyone who was honorably discharged from any of the following military branches is considered eligible:
- Air Force
- Coast Guard
- Texas National Guard
To request this designation on your license or ID card, take one of the following forms to the DPS office in person:
- A Texas concealed carry permit with a veteran designation
- Your disability letter from the VA
Military honor plates
The state of Texas offers veterans and servicemembers the chance to put a specialty honor plate on their vehicle. These come in a very wide range of designs and configurations, as well as the ISA (International Symbol of Access). However, note that Texas no longer allows disabled vets to have both the ISA and an emblem on their plates. However, in order to purchase these plates, you’ll need to meet qualifying requirements, and complete the VTR-615 Application for Disabled Veteran License Plates and Parking Placards found here.
A sampling of the plates available include the following:
- 36th Infantry
- Air Force Cross
- Air Medal
- Combat Action Medal
- Combat Infantryman’s Badge
- Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan
- WWII Veterans
A complete catalog of available plate designs can be found here.
Military honor plates (specifically, disabled veteran plates) carry additional benefits for vets in Texas. These plates grant access to the vehicle to park in any handicap-designated parking spot, and to park in front of parking meters (non-federal meters) without any charge. The qualifying plates are as follows:
- Congressional Medal of Honor
- Air Force Cross Medal
- Air and Air with Valor Medals
- Airman’s Medal
- Army Distinguished Service Cross Medal
- Bronze Star and Bronze Star with Valor Medals
- Coast Guard Medal
- Defense Meritorious Service Medal
- Defense Superior Service Medal
- Disabled Veteran
- Distinguished Flying Cross Medal
- Distinguished Service Medal
- Legion of Merit Medal
- Meritorious Service Medal
- Navy and Marine Corps Medal
- Navy Cross Medal
- Pearl Harbor Survivor
- Prisoner of War Medal
- Purple Heart Medal
- Silver Star Medal
- Soldier’s Medal
- World War II
Note that these plates do not assure that parking is always free, particularly in public and private parking garages.
Military skills test waiver
If you are applying for a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you can transfer some or all of your military motor vehicle experience to the civilian world by completing the Application for Military Skills Test Waiver, which can be downloaded here.
Non-resident military personnel driver license and vehicle registration
If you’re a veteran or servicemember out of state, you can still have the designation added to your license. You’ll need to mail a copy of your qualifying documentation (listed above), as well as the application for renewal/replacement found here, along with your out of state/country application found here and your Explanation for Eye Specialist form found here along with any required fee to the following address:
Texas Department of Public Safety
Central Cash Receiving
PO Box 15999
Austin, TX 78761