Restricted License Availability in Michigan – Part 1 – A Definite “Maybe”

The list of criminal offenses that involve some sort of Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation is long, and always seems to be getting longer. Everyone knows that Drunk Driving convictions result in some loss of license, but many people are not aware that Drug Possession offenses also require license suspensions.

Whether due to a Drunk Driving, a Drug Crime, or simply a Bad Driving Record (too many points), anyone who has lost, or is facing the loss of their license, usually asks “Isn’t there some kind of Restricted License I can get to at least go to work?”

And the answer to that question is always the same: Maybe.

1174747_by_a_beer.jpgTo make things easier to understand, we’ll look at the three of the most common situations that occur. We’ll examine each of these three areas in a separate article, beginning with Drunk Driving Cases. In the second installment, we’ll examine the availability of restricted licenses in Drug Cases, and in the third and final installment, we’ll review what can be done for drivers who lose their license because of too many Points, or a Bad Driving Record.

First, certain kinds of offenses, like Drunk Driving, require that the Michigan Secretary of State automatically take certain, specific actions against a license. These are known as mandatory penalties. They cannot be appealed in Court, nor can they be modified in any way.

When a person is convicted of a Drinking and Driving offense, the Court immediately sends notice of the charge they pled to or were found guilty of to the Secretary of State. Based upon the person’s prior driving record and the conviction offense (the one that the Court is notifying the Secretary of State about), certain specified-in-the-law Driver’s License sanctions must take place.

Consider this example: A Detroit-area resident with no prior drug or alcohol convictions on their record receives a First Offense Drunk Driving charge (OWI). If the person pleads to, or is found guilty of, that original charge, then once the Court sends notice of that to the Secretary of State, that driver’s license will be suspended for6 months. Under the law, the driver will not be allowed any driving privileges for the first 30 days, and will then have a restricted license for the remaining 5 months of the suspension period.

If that same driver is able to have their lawyer work out a deal to reduce the charge from OWI to the lesser charge of Impaired Driving (OWVI), then upon notice from the Court, the Secretary of State will suspend the driver’s license for 90 days, with a restricted license being granted for all of those 90 days. In other words, that driver will basically have their license restricted for 90 days.

If a person has any drug crimes or alcohol-related driving offenses within the last 7 years on their record from the time of a new conviction, then the Secretary of State must revoke the driver’s license for at least 1 full year. Notice that I made no mention of any specific offense for the new conviction, because, in essence, the only time the exact nature of the offense matters is the first time. In other words, once a driver gets into the “2 within 7 years” category, it couldn’t matter less what those 2 convictions are for, as long as they are drug or alcohol-related driving offenses. A revocation means that after the year revocation has gone by, the driver must appear before the Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division for a hearing and be approved for an initial restricted license for at least the first year.

In other words, for second, third, and subsequent convictions, the Secretary of State only counts the total number of offenses and asks if the amount equals 2 within 7 years (minimum 1 year revocation) or 3 or more within 10 years (minimum 5 year revocation).

If a driver accumulates any combination of 3 substance abuse or alcohol-related moving violations within 10 years, the Secretary of State revokes that driver’s license for a minimum of 5 years. The same hearing process is required to have driving privileges reinstated.

These actions are required under law, and no provision is made to alter or modify them. To put it another way, the penalties imposed by the Secretary of State cannot be challenged in court or otherwise altered. A period of restricted cannot be shortened, and a revocation cannot be appealed. In short, any restricted license must run it’s course, and any driver whose license is revoked cannot obtain any driving privileges, restricted or otherwise.

The process of having a driver’s license restored is complex, but is dealt with in detail in the Driver’s License Restoration section of my website.

In the next section, we will examine the second situation which most commonly results in license suspension, Drug Crimes. In the third and final section, we will examine Bad Driving Records, too many Points, and what can be done to get a license back.

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