Our firm guarantees to win every first time driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take. We know what will win a license reinstatement/restoration case, and what will NOT. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the most common things people believe, or say, that will absolutely stop any driver’s license appeal dead in its tracks. The goal here is to clear up some of those misconceptions and help the reader understand what IS necessary to win back a valid driver’s license, and why some things people think are important don’t matter at all.
Let’s start with the obvious: People need to drive. If we had a nickel for every time someone said something like “I need to drive,” or “I need my license,” we’d be rich. It is understood that not having a license is a huge inconvenience, but that is the intended legal penalty for racking up multiple DUI’s. As one of the Michigan Secretary of State hearing officers says, “everybody needs a license.” Unfortunately, needing a license has absolutely nothing to do with being able to win it back.
Part of the reason for this is to protect the public from someone who is a demonstrated risk on the road. Under Michigan law, any person convicted of either 2 DUI’s within 7 years or 3 within 10 years is legally categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender.” One of the penalties is that his or her license will be revoked. Another is that he or she is thereafter legally presumed to have some kind of alcohol problem. This does NOT, however, mean that the person is assumed to be a raging alcoholic, but rather that his or her relationship to alcohol and driving has become risky.
To win a license reinstatement/restoration case, a person must prove several things. Chief among them is that they’ve quit drinking (and using all other substances, including recreational marijuana), for good. More specifically, the person must show complete abstinence from alcohol and everything else for a legally sufficient period of time. How much time depends on his or her history and prior record. Someone with 2 DUI’s won’t n need as much clean time as someone with 5 or more.
In addition – and this is critically important – to win a license reinstatement/restoration appeal, it must also be proven that the person has what it takes to NEVER pick up another drink or otherwise use anything else (again, including recreational marijuana) for the rest of his or her life.
The law that governs every license reinstatement/restoration case mandates that, after racking up multiple DUI’s, the only people who can be put back on the road are those who can prove themselves to be a safe bet to never drink, get high, or use any other substances again
Despite all the variables involved in making this kind of determination, the one certainty is that people who do not drink are exactly zero risk to ever drive drunk.
Remember, driving is a privilege, not a right. A person forfeits that privilege by becoming a habitual alcohol offender. Once his or her license is revoked by the Michigan Secretary of State, it will stay revoked until and unless he or she files and wins a formal driver’s license reinstatement/restoration case. Of course, a person must first be eligible, time- wise, to file, and then meet the legal requirements necessary to win. We’ll get to those requirements shortly.
A few other things we often hear, closely tied to the first issue (“I need to drive“) arises when people say things like, “…but you don’t understand,” “I haven’t been in trouble for a long time,” or, “I did my probation and paid my dues.” To win a license reinstatement/restoration case after his or her driving privileges have been revoked for multiple DUI’s, a person has to meet certain, specific legal criteria, and none of those things matter.
We’ll first set out the written law below, and then explain what it means in plain English. Within the Michigan driver’s license laws, the main rule (Rule 13), governs every license reinstatement/restoration case. In relevant part, it reads as follows:
The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following:
i. That the petitioner’s alcohol or substance abuse problems, if any, are under control and likely to remain under control.
ii. That the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk.
iii. That the risk of the petitioner repeating the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by, or under the influence of, alcohol or controlled substances or a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance or repeating any other offense listed in section 303(1)(d), (e), or (f) or (2)(c), (d), (e), or (f) of the act is a low or minimal risk.
iv. That the petitioner has the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.
v. Other showings that are relevant to the issues identified in paragraphs (i) to (iv) of this subdivision.
Now, let’s break that down into simple terms:
For starters, it’s important to note how the rule begins by mandating that the hearing officer shall NOT grant (in other words, he or she must DENY) the appeal unless the person proves certain things by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence.” This means that the hearing officer begins considering every case with “NO” as the answer. The license reinstatement/restoration appeal cannot be granted unless and until the person piles up enough evidence to make a “clear and convincing” case to change that “NO” answer to “YES.”
The easiest way to think of proving a case by “clear and convincing evidence” is to equate it with hitting a home run. In other words, a person wins his or her license reinstatement/restoration case by stepping up and really crushing it.
The obvious question is “crush what?”
For as complicated as the language of the rule above may seem, we can break everything down to 2 key issues. This is where the notion of being a “habitual alcohol offender” after 2 or more DUI’s is critical. Remember, anyone who racks up 2 drunk driving convictions within 7 years, or 3 within 10 years, is LEGALLY PRESUMED to have some kind of alcohol problem. This is crucial to understanding the 2 legal issues set out in the the first subsection (i) of the rule:
First, a person must prove that his or her legally presumed alcohol and/or substance abuse problems are under control. This means he or she must demonstrate complete abstinence from alcohol and everything else, including, as noted earlier, recreational marijuana. Although the precise amount of clean time necessary will vary depending on a person’s history, as a general rule, our firm requires that a client have at least 18 months of total abstinence before we’ll file a license reinstatement/restoration case.
Second, the person must prove that his or her legally presumed alcohol and.or substance abuse problems are likely to remain under control. This requires showing that one has both the ability (i.e., tools) and commitment to permanently remain abstinent. Put another way, it means proving that one is a safe bet to remain completely clean and sober for life.
There is no place in the license reinstatement/restoration appeal process for any other issues other than those set out in Rule 13. While it’s great that someone has stayed out of trouble, that doesn’t address any of the legal issues specified in the law. Ditto for having “paid” one’s dues, or not having had a license for a long time. Nice as they sound, none of those things matter in the context of a license reinstatement/restoration case.
Among the other things people often say are the following:
• I don’t drink and drive anymore
• I only drink once in a while
• I don’t drink like I used to
• I just have a glass of wine with dinner every once in a while
• I know people that still drink and they got their license back
• I only use marijuana occasionally
• I use marijuana to relax
• I don’t drive while smoking
• I know people who use marijuana and had multiple DUI’s and still drive
None of those things help. Saying any of them will kill a license reinstatement/restoration case instantly. In fact, even thinking them means one has the wrong mindset to undertake a license appeal.
Here again, we circle back to the simple proposition that the people who are most likely to NOT drive while intoxicate are those who don’t drink or partake of any other substances. A license reinstatement/restoration case is necessary precisely because someone has racked up multiple DUI’s. The state sees them as a danger on the road. The law requires the hearing officers to take the safe route, and only restore driving privileges to those who have proven themselves likely to remain alcohol and substance-free for life.
Recreational marijuana has become a big issue in the license appeal world since it’s legalization. Whatever anyone thinks about it, the prevailing concept of sobriety means that a person abstains from the use of any and ALL mood, mind altering, or potentially habit-forming substances. It means being completely clean from everything, including recreational marijuana.
Sometimes, a person will admit to using marijuana, but try to say that it doesn’t do anything to them. Then, when asked why they use it, they can’t provide a meaningful answer. Other than medical marijuana taken for a serious health condition, people use marijuana for some effect, whether it’s a buzz, to relax, go to sleep, or whatever. The simple fact is that the Michigan Secretary of State will NOT issue a favorable decision in a license reinstatement/restoration case for anyone who uses recreational marijuana, however infrequently.
Moreover, the hearing officers are going to drill down and make sure that someone just doesn’t file an appeal and then try to say the right things. Anyone with a true understanding of real sobriety knows that it means being completely abstinent from alcohol and all other substances. The very real risk of relapse and/or substitution is well known to those who have genuinely embraced sobriety, and who live a truly sober lifestyle.
One of the more perplexing things to us, as a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm, is the effort people will put into finding a way to keep drinking (or using other substances). There is an old saying that puts this best: Anything that causes a problem IS a problem. When someone can’t legally drive because he or she has racked up multiple DUI’s, then drinking has at least become some kind of problem.
This is the point where some people will try and rationalize that their DUI’s were just bad luck. The law, however, only looks at the numbers, and when a person’s drinking has resulted in 2 or more of them, then as far as the law goes, drinking has become a measurable risk.
Who would buy a ticket from an airline that advertised “Over 99% of our planes make it to their destination without crashing!”?
The license reinstatement/restoration appeal laws are designed to protect the public. It is understood that there will inevitably be real hardship to anyone whose license gets revoked. Some would say that it’s not that the state confiscates someone’s license after he or she is convicted of 2 or more DUI’s, but rather that he or she has chosen to give it up by getting caught driving drunk repeatedly.
To be sure, getting one’s license back IS hard. The process will inevitably screen out most people because it’s designed to do just that. The idea is that the only people who should win a license reinstatement/restoration case are those who can prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that have really quit drinking, don’t use drugs, don’t use marijuana, and are committed to remaining abstinent for the rest of their lives. Regrettably, that’s not the majority.
Our firm screens all potential clients carefully because we guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take. We make sure a person has genuinely quit drinking and is otherwise substance-free. If we weren’t so thorough, then we’d get stuck trying to win a license back for someone who doesn’t meet the legal requirements.
Not to be indelicate about it, but we COUNT on winning the first time. If not, then we have to do the whole case all over again without further legal fees. That’s double the work for half the pay.
Instead, our guarantee makes us invested in eachg client’s success. That all begins, however, by making sure every such person really is genuinely sober.
If you’re looking for a lawyer to win back your driver’s license or clear a Michigan hold on your driving record, be a wise consumer and read around. Pay attention to how different lawyers break down the license appeal process, and how they explain their various approaches to it.
This blog is a great place to start. It is fully searchable and updated weekly with a new, original article. To-date, I have written and published over 680 articles (this is my 690th installment) in the driver’s license restoration section. The reader can find more information about every aspect of the license appeal process here than anywhere. However, don’t take my word for it – look and compare for yourself.
Once you’ve done enough reading, start calling around. You can learn a lot by speaking to a live person, and that’s exactly what you’ll get when you call our office. All of our consultations are free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. My team and I are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions and explain things. We NEVER use any kind of pressure tactics to get someone to “sign up.”
In fact, an important part of our approach is to suggest that you check around. You should ALWAYS compare lawyers. We’ll be happy to to compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told you, even if you call us first, call around, and then decide to call us back.
We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (EST) at 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980.