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 Accordingly, we’ll start out by looking at what can be done for those whose license has been previously been revoked as the result of 2 or more DUI’s, and then afterward, we’ll examine the options for those who are currently facing a DUI charge.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 our work as Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the most common things we’re asked about is how a DUI can or will affect a person’s job, or professional license status. Of course, everyone’s first concern following a drunk driving arrest is staying out of jail, closely followed by not losing the ability to drive, but in the real world, employment considerations absolutely round out the “Big 3” of DUI worries. While there is no single, simple answer to how a DUI can or will affect someone’s livelihood, the good news is that, by and large – it won’t. are, of course, exceptions. Not to be funny about it, but if there weren’t, I could have ended this article with nothing more than the paragraph above. We’ll start with the broadest generalizations first, and work down from there: With few exceptions, a DUI will not cause someone to lose his or her job. In terms of professional licensing, I have never had, nor have I ever even heard of anyone losing their occupational license for a single DUI. That said, anyone who picks up a DUI and who already has or is planning to obtain a professional license in certain fields may have to undergo more scrutiny about what happened than someone in other occupations.

Most jobs in the United States fall within what is called “at will” employment status, meaning that a person can be fired, at any time, for any reason, as long as that reason isn’t any kind of unlawful discrimination. There is a lot to the whole concept of unlawful discrimination, all of which goes beyond the scope of this piece, so we’ll have to leave it at that, and simply understand that a person can’t be fired for reasons like age, race, sex, religious affiliation, et cetera. The larger point is that, absent any such illegal reason, a boss can simply decide to fire a person because he or she doesn’t like them, wants to cut down on payroll, or just feels like it. Nothing else is needed.

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 our capacity as Michigan DUI lawyers, we know that none of our DUI clients is any kind “criminal,” but we also know that each has been charged with what is, after all, a criminal offense. This distinction is more than academic, or some play on words, because the reality is that a DUI case often drags an otherwise law-abiding person squarely into the midst of the criminal court process. The bewilderment and frustration many people feel about this is often expressed in statements like, “I feel like I’m some kind of criminal.”

Bad-2-1-300x253In the real world, people from all walks of life wind up facing DUI charges. Our firm is a premium DUI practice, so none of our clients resemble anything like someone would picture when thinking of the word “criminal.” That said, it’s also true that plenty of real criminals do get in trouble for drunk driving, just like everyone else. In that sense, DUI charges are like speeding tickets, in that no person, or class or group of people are exempt from them, with the sole exception of people who simply don’t drive.

For what it’s worth, a “real” criminal would consider a DUI charge more of an inconvenience rather than anything else, whereas that otherwise law-abiding person may very well freak out over it. For us, as Michigan DUI attorneys, this, in and of itself, can be reassuring. We don’t work with hardened criminals, nor do we want to. Decades ago, I chose to NOT handle things like rape and murder charges, and, to be honest about it, I simply don’t have any inclination to work with people accused of those or any other such serious crimes.

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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