I have posted over 283 articles about the driver’s license restoration and clearance process; that’s a lot of information. Yet for everything I have written, both on my blog and on my website, there is one fact – one single thing – that is the key to winning back your license; you must be sober. You must have honestly quit drinking. I probably write about this topic more than any other because this subject comes up more than any other, and its primary importance cannot be ignored nor overstated. The “meat and potatoes” of every driver’s license appeal is the requirement that you prove that you are a safe bet to never drink again. The license appeal process is about merely convincing the Michigan Secretary of State that you aren’t a risk to drink and drive again; from the state’s point of view, if you’ve been revoked for 2 or more DUI’s, you have an alcohol problem and you’re going to need to prove that there is no alcohol within a million miles of your life.
Real sobriety is a rare thing. Plenty of people confuse being sober, as in “not drunk,” at a particular moment with the larger concept of sobriety. The hard truth is that there is really no explaining the fundamental difference; you either know it as a matter of instinct and experience, or you don’t. If you have gone through the life-changing process of transitioning from drinker to non-drinker, then you just “get it.” It can be frustrating for me because everyone who has lost his or her license wants it back. Everyone needs a license, but only those who can prove they are not a risk to ever drink again will win it back. Unfortunately, even most lawyers don’t understand the nuances of the license restoration process, so it’s no wonder that so few people actually succeed at winning back their license. This is important enough to repeat: To win your license back after multiple DUI’s you need to prove to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (now called the AHS, formerly, and until recently, the DAAD) that you are no risk to ever pick up a drink again – ever.
This is huge, yet simple for those who “get it,” but nearly beyond comprehension for those who don’t. The state sees anyone whose license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s as a huge safety risk. Statistics bear out the fact – and it is a fact beyond dispute – that most people with a drinking problem never get over it. Sure, lots of people can “put the plug in the jug” for a while, but long term or permanent abstinence is the exception, not the rule. The state figures that given this reality, only those people who can prove themselves likely to be that exception should be allowed back on the road. When you think about it, there is really no other choice. Why would anyone seriously consider giving a license back to someone with multiple DUI’s who now says he or she can drink safely, or only once in a while, or whatever, and then wraps that all up in another promise to never drink and drive again?
Worse yet, the state sees plenty of cases where a person has come in, convinced the AHS that he or she is genuinely sober and won’t drink anymore, and then, sometime down the road, gets popped for another DUI and loses his or her license all over again. This means that the starting point to get your license back is proving that you will never pick up another drink. And it’s not enough to just “prove” that, you have to prove it by what the law calls “clear and convincing evidence.” For as much as there is to all of this, the hearing officer is essentially tasked with looking for a reason to deny your appeal, and in most cases, he or she won’t have to look far. Here we circle back to the notion that “I need a license.” The state knows this, but it could care less. Everybody needs a license, but anyone with a proven record of drinking and driving has to prove that he or she is done drinking; the driving part comes later. This is why license appeals are so hard. Even if your sobriety defines you and your lifestyle, you’re going to have to jump through all the state’s hoops to prove it.
Obviously, these “hoops” are designed to separate those who have really embraced sobriety from those who haven’t gotten there yet. Not that the license appeal process is as simple as merely proving that you’ve really become sober, but without a firm foundation in sobriety, you won’t get anywhere. My job, as the license restoration lawyer, is to take the story of a person’s recovery and fit it into the framework of a successful license appeal; in other words, to make sure my client can navigate through those hoops. Recovery stories come in all shapes and sizes. Some people get sober with AA and love the program. Some people get their start in AA and maintain their sobriety without it, while others get sober on their own, or through counseling. In fact, there are as many ways to get and stay sober as there are sober people. However a person does it, the starting point for a successful license reinstatement is that you have truly removed alcohol from your life in every sense.
If this resonates with you, then I can win your license back. If you’re not quite there yet, perhaps I can still help you come to understand things. At its simplest, if you’re not yet sober, you should look at your current relationship to alcohol and realize that, however “under control” you may think it is, it is still a problem right here and now because it stands in the way of you being able to put a valid license back into your wallet. If you haven’t moved past drinking, and you need to get your license back, then you should evaluate your priorities: Is drinking really more important to you than the ability to drive and the freedom and income and family potential that comes with that? It comes down to this very choice. If this makes you want to argue, pause for a moment and as yourself, does drinking mean so much to me that even if it keeps me from driving and all the benefits that come with driving, I don’t want to give it up? Seriously?
This is as simple as it gets. If you are sober, and want to win your license back, guaranteed, or, if you aren’t quite there yet, but need a little encouragement, call my office. We’re here Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, and can be reached at (586) 465-1980.