Answering questions about Michigan Driver's License Restoration issues is a large part of what I do everyday. This goes beyond just being in the Office; I wind up answer emails after hours, while I'm at home. Because a large part of my Michigan Driver's License Restoration Practice involves Representing people who live all over the world (I'm not kidding; as of this writing, I have Clients stationed in Korea and Japan), I get emails at all hours. As the song goes, it's always five o'clock somewhere...
One issue that comes up again and again centers on the length of time a person must wait until they can file a License Appeal. This is particularly true when a person is dealing with a 5-year Revocation after picking up their 3rd DUI within 10 years. Frankly, I am somewhat angry and rather shocked at the amount of misinformation that seems to be circulating about when a person can get their License back.
It angers me that anyone would open their mouth and give what amounts to legal advice about something in which they have had no legal training and are dead wrong. I am shocked that this completely wrong information circulates as much as it does, and am equally shocked to learn from where some of it comes. More often than I'd like to admit, this misinformation comes from AA. I love the AA program, and think it is a wonderful way for some people to get Sober. However, AA people tend to listen to other AA people, and that's good. However, being "good" at Recovery doesn't make one an expert at DUI Laws or License Restoration Law, anymore than having been a patient makes one a medical expert.
When I am faced with pronouncements like "you can never win a License Appeal the first time" or "you can go to Court and get a hardship License," I go nuts. A person may be the 4th Step guru, but that doesn't make him or her a Lawyer. Yet because people sit around the tables and discuss life issues, what is said at those tables is sometimes given far more credibility than it deserves. Imagine, for example, someone mentioning that his wife has breast cancer, and another person saying something like "Oh, man, that's fatal. My sister had that and was dead in a few months." By the same token, imagine yet another saying "My sister had that. She didn't trust Doctors, so she just went with an all-natural, organic diet and she cured herself."
Both of these are incredibly ignorant things to say, but the "legal advice" given by most of these non-Lawyer "experts" isn't much better. In fact, I've heard some pretty off-base observations from Lawyers, much less non-Lawyers. I certainly won't offer an opinion about Divorce issues, because I don't do that kind of work, and the world would just be a lot less dumb if people didn't offer advice or opinions about things they don't really know about.
Anyway, my complaints aside, many people have difficulty accepting that a 3rd DUI conviction within 10 years means a person will have to wait 5 full years from the date of their Revocation to be able to pursue a License Appeal. I agree that it sucks, but it is what it is, and, more importantly, there is nothing that can be done about it. And this is major point: I make most of my living handling (and winning) License Appeals. If there was a way to just go to Court so a person would NOT have to wait, that would mean more income for me. Why would I turn away a person willing to come in and hire me?
Everyone knows the classic Lawyer answer to so many questions is "it depends." I have said and written it countless times myself. When it comes to 3 DUI convictions within 10 years, however, the Law is crystal clear and very simple: Nothing can be done for 5 years, period.
Occasionally, a person will get angry and frustrated at the whole situation, and ask something like "How am I supposed to keep my job if I can't drive?" Or, they might say, "So they just want me to drop out of school and not be able to work or take care of my family, I guess." I'm sure anyone reading this has had the same thoughts, even if they haven't verbalized them. The point is that "they," usually meaning the State, has taken a person's License away, and seemingly left them without any options, or at least any options better than bumming rides or catching the bus. Yes it sucks, but that's the cold reality.
In some ways, this feels so wrong that a person finds it hard to believe that there isn't some way to just get a Restricted License to get to work, or school.
There isn't. This is the whole point of the Law. If you get 3 DUI convictions within 10 years, the State of Michigan will take your License away for a minimum of 5 years, and you will be unable to get any kind of License in the meantime. It doesn't matter if the person is retired, and only wants to drive to get out a little, or if the person, or even their child, is suffering from a life-threatening condition and needs to go to the Doctor or hospital for treatment; there are no exceptions.
To be even clearer, this isn't "just the way it is," either. The written Law specifies that there is no hardship License Appeal in ANY case where person has had their License Revoked for multiple DUI's, if the last DUI was on or after January 1, 1992. In other words, it's been this way for over 20 years. Even if the nicest (or dumbest, depending on how you look at it) Judge in the world would "order" a Restricted License, such an "order" would be void, because the Secretary of State knows that only it has jurisdiction.
To put it another way, such an "order" would be about the same thing as if a person took their tax return to their neighborhood District Court and asked the Judge to reduce the amount they owe the IRS because they couldn't afford to pay their taxes. That Judge could not issue such an Order, and even if he or she did anything so issued would be null and void right out of the gate
But people want to argue. They seem to know somebody from somewhere who got a License in such a case, or, my favorite; there is a Lawyer who told them, or some friend or theirs, that he or she can get them a Restricted License even though they've been Revoked for multiple DUI convictions.
I know better. Anyone who wants to pay up for something so demonstrably and obviously legally impossible should at least ask for a guarantee in writing. It will never happen, and that should say something. After all, I offer a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Guarantee in every License Restoration case I accept, because I know the Law.
To set the record straight then:
If a person has lost their Michigan Driver's License because of 3 DUI convictions within 10 years, they will have to wait 5 years to begin the License Appeal process. There is NOTHING that can be done before then, and there is absolutely, one hundred percent NO WAY that any kind of Restricted License can ever be issued in the meantime. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this whatsoever, and anyone who says anything different is dead wrong.