Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Appeals and the Role of Drugs – Part 1

This blog contains a rather large volume of articles about Driver’s License Restoration. Because such a large share of my Practice involves License Restorations, I have tried to cover this subject from every possible angle. My previous articles explain both the process of winning back a Michigan Driver’s License, and the ins and outs of having a Michigan Driver’s License Hold cleared so that a person can be Licensed in another state.

Because almost every one of those situations involves the loss of Driving Privileges occasioned by multiple DUI’s, I have yet to examine the role of Drugs in a License Appeal. In this article, we’ll begin an inquiry into the role of Drugs in a License Appeal. Because this is such an in-depth subject, we’ll break this article into 4 parts. I will end each at a logical stopping point in order to keep each of these installments flowing into the next. This first entry will be the shortest of the bunch, as we’ll be more or less just defining the terms we’ll be discussing later.

drugs-alcohol2.jpgLet’s begin by defining what is meant by the phrase “role of Drugs.” We’ll be looking at “Drugs” within the context of both illegal use, as in Substance Abuse, and the role of legitimate, legal prescriptions for the person filing the Appeal. In other words, if there is any Drug Crime on a person’s Record, or if they’ve ever had Counseling or Treatment for Drug issues, and/or even if they are on any Prescription Medication of almost any kind, then the subject of “Drugs” must at least be examined as part of the overall process of preparing for a License Appeal.

To be completely and technically accurate, although the vast majority of License Revocations are the result of multiple DUI convictions, the law applies equally to “Alcohol or Drug-Related Driving Convictions.” This means that any combination of 2 DUI’s and/or Substance Abuse, Driving-Related Convictions within 7 years, or any combination of 3 such Convictions within 10 years will result in either a 1-year, or 5-year Revocation, respectively.

This, however, does not explain why the Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) will so closely scrutinize a person who has a valid prescription for Xanax, but whose License was Revoked for 2 DUI’s. To understand this whole concern better, we need to understand the prevailing view of Alcoholism, Addiction, Cross-Addiction, and Recovery, and the roles they play in a License Restoration Appeal. We will NOT be undertaking an instructional analysis of those concepts. That would take years. Instead, we’ll establish a working definition of those terms and see how they figure into this whole process. And make no mistake about it, they figure prominently into the License Restoration Process.

At this point, many of those who have participated in any kind of support group, like AA or NA, have a good idea of what I’m writing about. Even an AA member, or “graduate” (a nice way of saying someone who used to attend, but does not any more) whose problem and use was limited to Alcohol has at least heard about these topics. Those who have undergone Substance Abuse Rehab, or intense Counseling, have usually been likewise exposed to the concepts of Alcoholism, Addiction, Cross-Addiction, and Recovery.

Defining and explaining Alcoholism accurately is the stuff of multi-volume textbooks. For our purposes, “Alcoholism” simply means having a Drinking Problem. This can mean anything from an early stage problem to outright chronic Alcohol Dependence. Let’s use an example:

Imagine a 12-inch ruler. Pretend that it represents the “continuum” or progression of a Drinking Problem. Let’s say that the space up to the 2-inch mark is the range of normal drinking. Anything past the 2-inch mark represents the end of “normal drinking” and the onset of problem drinking. Of course, the farther along we go, the worse the problem grows. Once we get to about the 6-inch mark, the drinking problem is considered serious. At the 8-inch mark, the drinking problem has grown serious enough to be termed alcohol-dependence. As we move past the 10-inch mark, that alcohol dependence enters it’s final stage, and is considered chronic alcohol dependence.

The general, and important idea here is to understand that an alcohol (and/or Drug) problem follows a certain path, and as it continues, it grows worse.

Addiction means having a Drug Problem. Those who work in the Substance Abuse and Recovery fields will note that “Addiction” can apply to both drugs and alcohol. For our purposes, however, we’ll generally use the term Addiction when talking about drugs and substances other than alcohol.

Cross-Addiction brings to mind having some sort of problem with both Drugs and Alcohol. For purposes of our review, that concept will work just fine. Just know that, in this sense, “Drugs” means any mind or mood-altering substance. This can and does include alcohol.

The term Recovery, beyond being generally understood, is also relatively self-explanatory. While the term may be familiar, understanding all the nuances of Recovery requires lifelong study. For now, Recovery can just be thought of as getting over a Drug and Alcohol problem by getting, and, most importantly, staying clean and sober.

Thus far, we’ve loosely defined the terms Alcoholism, Addiction, Cross-Addiction, and Recovery. In part 2 of this article, we’ll begin looking at how those terms play into a better understanding of the term “addiction.” We’ll also introduce a few new terms, like “Drug of Choice” and “Mind and Mood-Altering Substance.” We’ll then begin an examination of the concept of, and concern about, Cross-Addiction.