Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

It’s a simple fact that just about everyone who has lost his or her driver’s license needs it back. As full-time Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, it often falls to us to explain to someone whose driving privileges have been revoked as the result of multiple DUI’s that needing a license has absolutely nothing to do with actually being able to win it back. The Michigan Secretary of State has established very specific criteria that must be met in order to grant a license appeal, but a person’s need to drive, no matter how pressing, is NOT one of them.

p098u-piu-poi--274x300It would be difficult for me to make clear how many times per day our office is contacted by people looking to get their license back. After all, that’s what we do, right? Understandably (but also unfortunately), a lot of people skip right over asking about the legal requirements to win a license restoration or clearance appeal, and instead start telling us how much they need to drive, and try to “make their case” by pointing out that their DUI’s happened many years ago, and/or that they haven’t been in trouble for a long time. Although those things are emotionally compelling, within the context of a license appeal case, they don’t matter one single bit.

Precisely because our firm concentrates in driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, we have to keep our focus on what it takes to actually win. In that sense, it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the fact that people who DON’T work in our field do not understand, and, really, don’t have any reason to understand, that needing to drive is completely irrelevant to being able to win a Michigan driver’s license reinstatement case. Indeed, if a person meets the state’s established criteria, then he or she can win his or her license back even though he or she may have no actual need to drive at all.

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of the options for someone with a current or past DUI to get a restricted Michigan driver’s license. In that first part, saw that the ONLY relief available to someone who has been convicted of multiple DUI’s is to wait until he or she becomes eligible to file a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, submit the required documentation, and then actually win his or her appeal. Here, in the second part, we’ll look at the 3 potential choices for someone who is currently facing a Michigan DUI charge.

oioioioi2-300x267If you are dealing with a pending Michigan DUI case, and depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the charge that followed, there are only 3 potential avenues to get back on the road. It’s important to begin by pointing out that a person will usually not have any real choice in the matter, or “options” to consider, because DUI driver’s license penalties are specified by law, and imposed by the Michigan Secretary of State. As we’ll see, what can and can’t be done depends entirely on the facts of the case.

With the single exception of Sobriety Courts and their ability to override the mandatory revocation of a person’s driver’s license upon conviction for a 2nd DUI within 7 years, or a 3rd DUI within 10 years, the court system has ZERO jurisdiction over the legally required driver’s license sanctions that must be imposed by the Secretary of State. To be clear, Sobriety Court is the only possible workaround in pending 2nd and 3rd offense DUI cases, and even then, it’s only an option IF a person is accepted and admitted into one of these programs.

As full-time Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, people are always asking us about the possibility of getting some kind of restricted license. These questions often come from people who are about to lose their driving privileges as the result of a recent DUI, as well as people who have been without a license for some time due to 2 or more prior DUI convictions. In this article, I want to examine what can and cannot be done to get a restricted driver’s license in Michigan. Because there is quite a bit to all this, we’ll divide our discussion into 2 parts, but we’ll still keep things manageable.

vectorstock_15405212-300x300To make this easy, we’e going to have to break things down into a few categories. For example, it’s quite likely nobody facing a current 1st offense Michigan DUI charge that may result in the temporary suspension of his or her driver’s license wants to read through all of the far more involved legal issues confronting someone who has already had his or her license revoked as the result of multiple DUI convictions. Similarly, I doubt anyone who has already had his or her license revoked for 2 or more DUI’s really cares about much more than when and how he or she can win back at least some driving privileges.

For all the complexity underlying driver’s license issues, there are really only 4 legal “avenues” available for anyone whose license has been affected as the result of 1 or more DUI’s. As it turns out, there are 3 potential options for someone with an open, pending DUI case, and only 1 option for anyone who has already lost his or her license after multiple DUI convictions. Accordingly, we’ll start out by looking at what can be done for those whose license has been previously been revoked as the result of 2 or more DUI’s, and then afterward, we’ll examine the options for those who are currently facing a DUI charge.

In a recent article I wrote about the standard “no drinking” requirement for everyone on bond and waiting for his or her DUI case to wrap up, or on probation as part of his or her sentence for a DUI case. I pointed out that an important part of our jobs, as Michigan DUI lawyers, is to make sure the court understands the client’s individual circumstances. I then noted that, on the flip side, we must also ensure our client understands that, with regard to some aspects of DUI cases, a person’s particular situation doesn’t matter, that things just are the way they are simply “because,” and that the no drinking condition of bond and probation is one of them.

okholiholih-1-300x269The inspiration for this article came from our senior assistant, who, after a long day on the phones, observed that no matter how clearly things are explained to some people about court procedures in DUI cases, they always have a “yeah, but…” excuse for why something that’s standard for everybody else shouldn’t apply to them. We laughed for a moment as we boiled down the phrase “yeah, but” to “yabut,”and then noted how it’s exactly that kind of thinking gets people into trouble, or in the case of someone already facing a Michigan DUI charge, even more trouble.

As I briefly addressed in the “no drinking” article referenced above (and linked below), there is always someone who will want to explain why he or she should be allowed to drink, despite the Judge’s order that he or she refrain from any consumption of alcohol while on bond and awaiting the resolution of his or her case, or on while on probation after that has happened. This is the textbook example of what we mean when we talk about someone to whom the rules and requirements have been explained, and whose first response is “yeah, but.…”

In part 1 of this article, we began examining why a person who wins a Michigan driver’s license restoration case with a restricted license and an ignition interlock unit should file for a full license as soon as possible. I noted that beyond there being absolutely no benefit to waiting (it does not make one “look good”), there are significant risks to staying on the interlock, as well. We ended part 1 by noting that any delay in getting a full license seriously invites the possibility of an ignition interlock violation. Here, in part 2, we’ll see how a violation can occur even though a person does nothing wrong.

vectorstock_35425144-300x273This is especially unfortunate if an interlock violation occurs after the time when it could have been avoided had the person gotten his or her full license back already. An ignition interlock violation begins when the Michigan Secretary of State sends a formal notice advising a person of the alleged violation. That notice also informs the person that his or her license will be re-revoked (this is called a “reinstatement of original action”) on a certain date unless he or she files a request for a hearing to contest the violation within 14 days, and then wins.

If a person does nothing and fails to contest the violation (and win the hearing), then his or her license will remain revoked, and the only way to for him or her to get it back is to wait until he or she becomes eligible to start the whole license appeal process all over again, right from square one. What’s more, any such person is going to not only be expected to “explain” whatever led to his or her violation in the first place, but will also be asked why they didn’t do that earlier, right when the violation occurred. Although it doesn’t give rise to any kind of legal presumption, failing to contest a violation is seen (understandably) as a kind of surrender.

One of the highlights of our jobs, as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, is the first communication we have with a client after he or she has been notified that they’ve won their license back. Our firm guarantees to win every license restoration and clearance appeal case we take, so for us, this is something that we get to do all the time, but sharing this moment never gets old, and it’s always nice to be part of someone’s well-deserved celebration.

vectorstock_34452724-300x300One of the more important things we tell our clients during that post-victory conversation is to make sure they follow through with getting their full license back as soon as possible. This article will focus on why doing that is so important, and will look at some of the problems that often occur when a person waits longer than necessary to get his or her full license. To be clear, this only applies to Michigan residents who win a restoration of their Michigan driver’s license. Non-residents are only eligible to win a clearance of the Michigan hold on their driving record so that they can get a license in their new state.

In an article published a few months ago, I explained that well over 99% of all Michigan residents who win a restoration case will have to start out on a restricted license, and with an ignition interlock. In the real world (or at least in Michigan), when a person who has lost his or her license for multiple DUI’s does manage to win it back, he or she will almost certainly have to drive under restrictions and with an ignition interlock unit for a full year. After 12 months, he or she can, and as the point of this article will make clear, absolutely should then file for a “full” license.

One of the 2 main things every person must prove in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case is that his or her alcohol problem is “under control.” As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I regularly have to explain to people that “under control” means a person is not drinking at all , and not that he or she is somehow trying to limit or manage their drinking. In this article, we’ll examine what the term “under control” really means as interpreted and used by the Michigan Secretary of State in license appeal cases.

No-3-300x259To really get a grasp on this, a person must first understand the way the law works. This part of things is actually not as complicated as it might seem, and is really quite easy to follow. In Michigan, if a person winds up having been convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 DUI’s within 10 years, he or she will be legally categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender.” One of the consequences of this categorization is that the person’s driver’s license will be revoked because he or she is considered too risky to be allowed on the road.

Here’s why that happens: Another consequence of being designated a “habitual alcohol offender” after racking up multiple DUI’s, a person will also be presumed, by law, to have some sort of alcohol problem. This is where people often get confused or frustrated, because they misunderstand this, and feel like the state is, in a manner of speaking, pointing a finger at them and saying “you’re an alcoholic.” That’s not the case, so stay with me while I explain this in a way that will clear things up.

In part 1 of this article, we began a discussion about the importance of our firm’s guarantee to win every Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case we take. I began by pointing out that, very much unlike our practice, which concentrates in DUI and license appeal cases, there has been a recent surge of lawyers trying to enter the field claiming to “do” license appeals. I call these “McLicense” operations, because the simple truth is that there are very few real Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, like us, who specifically focus in this practice area, much less guarantee their work.

Win3-268x300For everything that any lawyer can say about his or her skills, the presence (or lack of) a win guarantee says everything you need to know about whether you should risk your money with him or her. If I was a potential license appeal client and stumbled across some lawyer who couldn’t put their money where their mouth is, I would think, “No guarantee – no way!” Having a guarantee obligates us to stick with every restoration and clearance appeal case until it does win. The simple truth is that we make our money winning all of them the first time, not having to come back and do the whole thing all over again – for free – as “warranty work.”

We then moved on and saw how the written law requires the hearing officers who decide these cases to NOT grant a license appeal unless the person proves 2 main things, by what is specified as clear and convincing evidence: First, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning he or she hasn’t a drink for a legally sufficient period of time (our firm generally require a person to have been alcohol (and marijuana) free for at least 18 months before we’ll file a case), and second, that his or her alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that he or she has the ability and commitment to remain alcohol (and substance) free for life.

In our practice as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I guarantee to win every license restoration and clearance appeal case we take. We’ve had this guarantee in place for so long, I honestly don’t remember when it was first established. One thing I do know, however, is that over the last several years, a whole herd of newcomer-attorneys have tried to enter the license restoration field, and many of them have done so by putting up websites that use some combination of or play on the words “Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer,” but without  offering any kind of guarantee of success.

Dude4-275x300The inspiration for this article came the other day, as I was doing research for another article, and stumbled across one of these “McLicense” websites. I got to that site trying to look something up, and as luck would have it, nothing on it came close to answering my question. Once again, Google had failed me. Even though the site upon which I landed didn’t provide the information I was looking for, it did direct the reader to check out its companion blog for more information, so I decided to poke around there a bit. When I did, I was disappointed to find that less than 10 articles about Michigan driver’s license restoration had been put up over the several years of its existence.

By comparison (and yes, I am bragging), as of this writing, I have composed and published nearly 600 articles (this is #597) specifically about driver’s license restoration. That’s an order of magnitude more than all the other Michigan license restoration articles out there COMBINED. This blog has been been growing by 2 new articles added every week for over 12 years as of today’s date. I doubt any of these “McLicense” operations has even handled anywhere near 200 license appeal cases in the entire time they’ve been around, whereas our firm, by contrast, handles more than 200 of them per year.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take. To do that, we have to prove to the Michigan Secretary of State that a person has been abstinent from alcohol for a “legally sufficient” period of time (normally, we require someone to have been completely alcohol-free for at least 18 months before moving forward with a case), and that he or she is a safe bet to never drink again, meaning to stay sober. In this article, I want to examine real sobriety, and show what it has in common with – but how it’s also different – than mere abstinence from alcohol. is an important topic in its own right, but our discussion here will focus on the fact that it is THE critical thing needed to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case. Unfortunately, while most people are familiar with what the terms “sober” and “sobriety” mean, their understanding is often incomplete. Of course, a person is “sober,” in one sense, if he or she is not intoxicated at a given time, but in the larger recovery world, “sober” means a lot more than just that. The importance of this goes beyond mere language, because the key difference between being abstinent from alcohol and truly sober is really the difference between being able to win a license appeal case – or not.

To anyone who has struggled with and ultimately recovered from a problem with alcohol, sobriety is not just the absence of drinking, it is really a state of being. It grows out of a person’s self-recognition that he or she has developed a drinking problem, and then made a firm decision to quit, and remain alcohol-free for life. In that sense, all sober people are abstinent, but not all abstinent people are sober. A person can have abstinence forced upon him or her, or otherwise choose to not drink for a period of time, but real sobriety requires a personal choice and commitment to never drink again.

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