As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I receive tons of emails from people who want to win back their driver’s license, or who need a clearance of Michigan’s hold on their driving record so they can get (or renew) a license out of state. Many of these email messages are long, and recount the history of a person’s DUI convictions, and/or go on to explain how much they need a driver’s license. As I read them, my eyes are searching for one thing – mention of sobriety. All to often, people who send me a long story without any mention of quitting drinking or sobriety don’t pan out to be good candidates to win a license restoration or clearance appeal case. The point I really want to make in this short and simple article is that sobriety is the absolute first and most important thing – the real “meat and potatoes” – of a Michigan driver’s license restoration or out-of-state clearance case.
I have written more about the license appeal process than everything else out there combined. I haven’t seen much about the sobriety requirement on other legal websites. By contrast, you would have to try hard to miss it on my site or in any of my articles. Even the quickest glance at my stuff makes clear that you must have quit drinking in order to win a license appeal. I provide a first time win guarantee in every case I take. Yet even in the relevant (although short) guarantee sections of my website, I make clear that sobriety is a non-negotiable requirement. Experience has convinced me that some people just look at the sheer volume of information I have put out about driver’s license appeals and just figure, “he’s the guy,” without taking the time to read any of my stuff. If they did, they’d see how I put sobriety front and center in everything. The only thing I can figure is that some people simply define sobriety differently. This is an important point because, legally speaking, there is no flexibility here: The rule set forth by the Michigan Secretary of State, through its Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) states that a license appeal “shall not” be granted unless the person proves that his or her alcohol problem is “under control” and, more important, is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that a person is a safe bet to never drink again.
There is no room in here for the misguided idea of having the occasional drink at home, or a toast at a wedding, or anything else. The state requires “clear and convincing evidence” to prove you’ve quit drinking, sworn off alcohol for good, and have the commitment and the tools to stay sober for life. Anything less is not enough, and the hearing officer is required to deny the appeal if you can’t prove that. In fact, the rule governing these cases specifically begins by reminding the hearing officer that he or she is under a negative mandate to look for the reason(s) to deny an appeal, because it begins with this language: “The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence…” [that the person’s alcohol problem is under control and likely to remain under control]. Beyond denying anyone who so much as entertains the possibility of ever drinking again, the whole point of the license appeal process is to examine a person to make sure that, beyond just saying as much, he or she really does live, and is otherwise genuinely committed to, life without alcohol.