Michigan Driver's License Restoration - Full or Restricted License

February 11, 2013

In my role as a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, there are certain questions that I am asked almost daily. One of, if not the most common question asked of me is whether or not a person who wins a License Restoration or Clearance case can skip the Restricted License and obtain a Full License, instead. Given how a blog will "archive" older articles, it's about time that I come back to the topic about Restricted Licenses versus Full Licenses after a person wins their Driver's License Appeal. The answer itself is rather simple, but even after hearing it, many people want to ask the question again, or ask it differently, as if that might bring about a different response.

If you are a Michigan resident and you win a Driver's License Restoration Appeal after having your License Revoked for multiple DUI's (and/or Substance Abuse related convictions), you MUST, as in NO EXCEPTIONS, drive the first year on a Restricted License with an ignition interlock. That answer is simple, but the questions that follow can get complex. The answer is different, however, for those who no longer live in Michigan. We'll get to that later.

Carlock 1.3.jpgThere are no exceptions to the Restricted License requirement. It does not matter how much a person needs a Full License, nor does it matter how much a Restricted License doesn't "work," the Law is clear and absolute on this score.

"Restricted" means 1 of 2 things:

1. The most common Restricted License is purpose-based, and is NOT limited by way of any time of day or night. It allows a person to drive to, from and during the course of employment, to and from school, to and from any support groups (like AA), and to and from any necessary medical treatment. This means that if the boss calls at 3 in morning and demands that you come into work, that's allowed. It also, means, however, that there is NO ability to take the kids to school, go grocery shopping, or drive to Cousin Carrie's wedding.


2. In certain cases, the state will allow a Restricted License that is time-based, and is unlimited in purpose (meaning a person can take the kids to school, can go grocery shopping or drive to Cousin Carrie's wedding) but is limited by time. Thus, such a License will allow a person to drive for any reason during certain, specified hours. There is no ability to drive before or after the specified hours, however, for any purpose. Those hours are usually rather limited, and are not wide-ranging. These "from-to" hours based Restricted Licenses don't allow 16 or 18-hour days. Thus, a person can forget about being able to drive from 6 am to 10 pm. Normally, a person on such a License cannot drive after 7 or 8 pm.

No matter whether a person has a Restricted License that is purpose-based or time-based, they will have to drive with an ignition interlock unit in their vehicle for 12 full months before they can even ask to have it removed. This is also mandatory. If you travel for work, and need to rent a car, you're out of luck. If you have to drive a company vehicle, then any such vehicle has to have an ignition interlock in it. A Michigan resident who wins a License Appeal cannot operate any vehicle without an ignition interlock until the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (now the DAAD, but sometimes referred to by its old name, the DLAD) allows it to be removed. As I noted above, this can only happen after a person has driven on the Restricted License, using the interlock, for one full year.

After a year with a Restricted License, and after a 12 full months of using an ignition interlock, a person can file for another Hearing in front of the DAAD and request a Full License, and that the interlock be removed. Part of the filing requirement is that a person submit what's called a "final report," which is a certified document produced by the interlock company detailing how a person has done on the interlock over a period of 12 months. If a person has had any problems, like a startup failure for a positive BAC (alcohol level) or any rolling retest violations (meaning that while the vehicle was running, they blew positive for alcohol, or didn't provide a timely breath sample), this document provides details about that. By the same token, if a person didn't have any problems, the final report shows that, as well.

It goes beyond the scope of this article to get into "next year's Hearing," but the larger point is that the whole Restricted License, ignition interlock period is carefully monitored by the DAAD. A person has to prove him or herself on the Restricted License before they're even eligible to apply for a Full License without an ignition interlock.

Things are different for non-residents. Anyone who has moved out of Michigan, and who has a "hold" upon their driving record that prevents them from obtaining a License in another state cannot get a Restricted License from Michigan. Having become a resident of another state, Michigan cannot give them any kind of License. Instead, Michigan can only step out of the way by issuing a "Clearance," which removes the Michigan hold upon their driving record and allows them to get a License in another state.

The end result of a Clearance is that a person almost always gets a Full License in their home state. If there are any restrictions upon that, they are imposed by the new home state. Michigan simply issues a Clearance, which means the Revocation is removed, and a person can thereafter go to their home state's DMV and get a Driver's License.

Of course, it takes about 2 seconds for most people to wonder if there is some way to rig up a Clearance and then get a Full Michigan License. The DAAD requires proof of out-of-state residency before it will grant a Clearance, and is on constant guard for this. If the thought has crossed your mind, then congratulations: You and everyone else has had the same, original idea...

Yet nothing in the rules would prohibit or punish a person from coming back to Michigan from another state after a Clearance has been granted, and an out-of-state License obtained. This means if Fred from Florida wins a Clearance from Michigan, uses it to get a Florida License, and then gets a better job offer in Michigan 2 weeks later, he can absolutely move back, declare his residency here, and then get a Full License, without restrictions, based upon his Florida License.

The answer to the question about what kind of License you get if you win a License Appeal depends exactly on the kind of Appeal you're asking about. If it's an Appeal for a Michigan resident, the answer is a Restricted License with an ignition interlock for a minimum of 1 year. If the Appeal is for someone who is no longer a Michigan resident, the answer is that you don't really win any License, but rather a Clearance, instead, that usually allows you to get a full License in your new home state.

As noted at the outset of the article, the answer is simple. The questions can be asked countless different ways, but the answer never changes.