In my practice as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I have published over 300 articles about the license appeal process, and have examined things like determining when you are eligible, how I do things in my office, as well as every other aspect of the license reinstatement process. Without a doubt, the single most important requirement to win your driver’s license back after multiple DUI’s is that you must be genuinely sober, and I have written more about this than any other topic. This article will look at this fundamental reality from what I hope is a slightly different angle. Despite the fact that I practically scream about sobriety as much as I can, my office still gets inquiries from people who want their license back, but haven’t yet stopped drinking.
I see these contacts as, if nothing else, an opportunity to help someone understand how the Michigan Secretary of State, through the agency that handles license appeals, the Administrative Hearing Section, or AHS, perceives his or her relationship to alcohol, and perhaps nudge the person toward a decision to stop drinking. Indeed, I’ve had people come to my office who have claimed that they have reevaluated the role of alcohol in their lives because of what I’ve written, and in doing so, have seen their drinking as the common denominator to what is holding them back as well as most, if not all of the trouble they’ve gotten into. The week this article was written, I had a brief email exchange with someone that stands as the perfect example of the way to never win your license back. I’m going to reprint it later in this article, minus, of course, any names.
Here is the thing: In the setting of a driver’s license restoration case, “sobriety” certainly means that you’ve quit drinking, but it also means that you have the commitment and the tools to never drink again. The state is simply not EVER going to return a license to anyone who thinks he or she can safely pick up a drink, even if just occasionally. Step back and look at the situation from a safety and societal point of view: On at least 2 occasions, the person had too much to drink and then drove and got caught. Now, the story goes, they have somehow managed to figure out when enough is enough, and the risk of them ever drinking and driving is somehow magically gone. The license appeal process provides that “The hearing officer shall NOT order that a license be issued” (that’s a negative mandate) unless the person proves, by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence,” that his or her alcohol problem is “under control” (meaning he or she has been totally abstinent from alcohol for at least a year, and often more), and “likely to remain under control” (meaning that he or she is a safe bet to never drink again. You either meet these requirements, or you don’t get your license back, period. And this goes way beyond just saying the right things; it’s about the whole mindset of sobriety.