Driver License Restoration

Driver License Restoration

What does it mean if my driver's license is restricted?

A restricted license is one where a driver is allowed to drive under very certain and limited circumstances.  Often restrictions are to and from work or school or can also be for a set period of time, i.e. 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.  Once the restriction period is over you may go into any Secretary of State branch office and get full driving privileges once the $125 reinstatement fee is paid.

What does it mean if my driver's license is suspended?

A suspended license is one where a driver is not allowed to drive at all for a set period of time.  Sometimes a period of suspension is followed by a period of restriction.  If it is only a period of suspension, once the suspension period is over you may go into any Secretary of State branch office and get full driving privileges once the $125 reinstatement fee is paid.

What does it mean if my driver's license is revoked?

A revoked license is one where a driver is not allowed to drive under any circumstances.  This revocation stays in place until it is lifted by the Secretary of State.  The Driver Assessment and Appeal Division of the Secretary of State handles the hearings that determine when or if driving privileges are given back to a driver.  There will be a date at which time a person is eligible for a hearing, and that hearing can be requested at that time or at any point after.  There are many reasons that a person's license can be revoked, such as certain criminal offenses, but typically revocations are for multiple alcohol or drug related convictions.

I have two convictions for alcohol-related driving within 7 years of each other.  How long before I can get my driver's license back?

You will have to wait until the eligibility date, which is typically one year from the date of the second conviction.  Once the eligibility date is reached, you must request a hearing with the Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division and go through a hearing to have any driving privileges restored.

I have three convictions for alcohol-related driving within 10 years of each other.  How long before I can get my driver's license back?

You will have to wait until the eligibility date, which is typically five years form the date of the most recent conviction.  However, that date can be delayed by additional moving violations or Driving While License Suspended/Revoked/Denied convictions.  Once the eligibility date is reached, you must request a hearing with the Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division and go through the a hearing to have any driving privileges restored. 

What do I have to do to get my driver's license back?

Once you have reached or come close to the eligibility date for a hearing you must submit a hearing request form, letters supporting your sobriety, proof of any AA attendance, proof of any counseling or treatment, a current substance abuse assessment, and a 10 panel urine screen.  This documentation may be submitted as soon as 6 weeks prior to the eligibility date and all documents must be dated within 90 days of the date they are submitted to Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division.  A hearing will be scheduled and will be held before a hearing officer of the Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division.  The hearing officer will decide whether any driving privileges will be allowed.

Who will decide whether i should get my driver's license back?

A hearing officer with Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division will decide if you have an In-Person Hearing.  An examiner with Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division will decide if you have an Administrative Review.

Will the Hearing Officer give me full driving privileges after the hearing?

The hearing officer is only allowed to grant full driving privileges to a person who is not a resident of Michigan.  If a person is a resident of Michigan and the hearing officer decides to grant driving privileges they will do so via a restricted license with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) installed on the vehicle.  This will be ordered for one year.  So long as there are no violations of the BAIID during that one year period you will have to go through the hearing process with Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division to prove continued sobriety and then the hearing officer will determine whether the restriction should be continued, the revocation reinstated, or full driving privileges granted.  The decision of the hearing officer will be made on the documentation submitted, just as it was the first time, only all documentation must be up to date

What is an Administrative Hearing?

An Administrative Review is when you submit all the documentation necessary to request driving privileges, but the documentation is only reviewed by an examiner of Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division.  The examiner makes a decision on whether driving privileges should be granted based only on the documents submitted.  If the decision of the review is a denial of driving privileges, you have the ability to appeal that and have an In-Person Hearing with a hearing officer.

In October of 2012, Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division discontinued Administrative Reviews for residents of Michigan.  Michigan residents must go through an In-Person Hearing with a hearing officer.  Administrative Reviews are now only allowed for non-Michigan residents.

What if the documentation that i sent in wasn't complete?

You may be able to supplement the documentation previously sent in.  If you have an In-Person Hearing, you may be able to do so at the hearing at the discretion of the hearing officer.  They will often review any additional documentation at that time.  However, it is preferred that all documentation be submitted at the same time and that should be before the hearing date.

What do I have to prove at a hearing with Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division?

The documentation submitted to Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division and the testimony given at the hearing must support that you have not drank alcohol or used controlled substances for a minimum of 6 months and up to 12 months, if the hearing officer decides a longer period is more appropriate.  Once that is shown, it must then be proven that you have any abuse or dependency on alcohol under control and it is likely to remain under control.  If any of this is not shown, the appeal will be denied.

What if I have drank alcohol or used controlled substances within the past 6-12 months?

Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division requires that no alcohol or controlled substances be used for a minimum of 6 months and as long as 12 months, if the hearing officer believes that is appropriate.

What is a substance abuse assessment?

A substance abuse assessment is an evaluation prepared by a counselor or therapist that has experience with or is certified in alcohol or drug abuse or dependency.  The evaluation consists of a written test inquiring into your history or usage of alcohol or drugs.  The written part is followed by an interview where thorough discussions of current and historical use of alcohol and drugs.  A writing is then prepared and submitted to  Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division that will indicate whether there is an opinion that an abuse or dependency on alcohol or drugs, whether that is in remission (i.e. stopped), and whether that is likely to continue.

What are letters of community support?

These are letters that must be submitted to Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division from family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, or anyone that can state that you have abstained from drinking alcohol or using drugs for the required period of time. These people must see you on a regular basis, which is preferred to be more than once per month.  They must include in the letter their contact information (address and phone number), when the last time is they knew you drank or used drugs, how much was used that last time, what you have done to remove alcohol or drugs from your life (i.e. changed friends, no bars, etc.), and what treatment, counseling or AA you are doing.  The letters must be dated and notarized.

There must be a minimum of 3 and maximum of 6 letters submitted.  Letters are the common focus for denial of a driver's license appeal, therefore, it is important to make sure that the letters very clearly have all of the required information.

What if i have not attended AA or do not like AA?

AA is preferred by Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division.  However, other counseling or treatment may be substituted.  It is really important to be able to state how you will handle any desire to drink or use drugs and what plan you have in place in case that happens.  AA can help very much for a possible relapse, but having a relapse prevention plan in place will help if AA is not for you or you have not been involved with AA.

What if I did not receive any treatment or counselling?

AA can substitute if no treatment or counseling occurred.  Also, if you have a clear relapse prevention plan in place and have people you may call if the desire to drink or use drugs occurs.

I live in Michigan, can I do an Administrative Review?

Not any longer.  Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division changed their policy and only non-Michigan residents can request an Administrative Review.  Any Michigan residents must appear at the In-Person Hearing.

I do not live in Michigan, do I have to personally appear at the hearing?

If you go through an Administrative Review and driving privileges are restored, then no.  If an In-Person Hearing is requested initially or requested after denial from an Administrative Review, then you must appear in person for that hearing.

What if I never lived in Michigan and/or never had a Michigan driver's license?

If you had a conviction for an alcohol or drug related driving offense in Michigan the Secretary of State will review your driving record.  If any other alcohol or drug related driving offenses are found, even from another state, and that conviction is within 7 or 10 years, Secretary of State will revoke driving privileges and place a hold on them.  You will have to still go through the hearing process with Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division to have the hold lifted and driving privileges reinstated.

What if I have a revoked license/hold in Michigan but have been issued a license in another state?

It is likely at some point you will have to come back to Michigan to deal with this issue.  The states communicate and likely you will not be allowed to renew the driver's license in the state that you hold one.  If that happens, you will not be issued a license in that state until the hold from Michigan is released.  The Michigan hold for a revocation can only be lifted by going through the hearing process.

What is the Driver License Compact, and is Michigan a part of that?

A group of states got together and agreed to communicate with each other when any moving violations or convictions involving motor vehicles occurred.  There are 26 states involved in the Driver License Compact, and Michigan is not one of those states.

What is the National Driver License Registry?

The registry is a national database that all 50 states report to.  Michigan reports to the regisrty and receives information from it as well.  This is why one could have been licensed in another state to drive and then been denied when attempting to renew and that is because the hold from the revocation in Michigan is now showing in the registry when such a communication did not previously occur.

What can I do if I did an Administrative Review and was denied?

You will receive an Order which will tell you how long you have to request an In-Person Hearing, which is usually 21 days from the date of the order.  Additional documentation does not have to be provided, but if you need to correct any issues brought up in the Administrative Review you may do so.

What if i did an In-Person Hearing and was denied?

You have 63 days from the date of the Order denying you to file an appeal with the Circuit Court.  The appeal will be based only on the record made at the In Person Hearing, and no further information can be provided.  A brief is prepared once the transcript from the hearing is received and the Circuit Court judge makes a decision on whether the denial was improper.

A Circuit Court judge does not have the authority to give a restricted license, even if you are a Michigan resident.  The judge can only order full driving privileges or affirm the decision of the hearing officer.

I do not live in Michigan and want to get a restricted license.  Can I do that?

No.  If you are not a Michigan resident and your driving privileges in Michigan have been revoked you cannot get a restricted license. 

I live in Michigan and do not want to have the restricted license with a breath alcohol ignition interlock device on it.  Can I just get my full driving privileges back?

Generally, no you cannot.  Michigan residents have to go through the restricted process for one year with the BAIID installed to ensure that any issues with alcohol are under control and are likely to remain under control.

I still owe driver responsibility fees.  Can I still get my license back?

If you are set up on a payment plan with the Michigan Department of Treasury and you keep up with that plan then owing driver responsibility fees may not stop you from getting your license back.  If you are not set up on a payment plan and owe driver responsibility fees there will likely be an additional suspension placed on your ability to drive until the fees are paid in full.

I was convicted of Driving While License Suspended/Revoked/Denied.  Will I still be able to get my license back?

It depends.  If your conviction was recent, it may affect your ability to get your license back.  A conviction like this will extend the time that you are ineligible for a hearing.  Each conviction such as this will often extend the eligibility period out for another year.  It also can be held against you for not following the revocation and still continuing to drive.  Not only can a conviction like this have a negative impact on the hearing officer's decision, but so can moving violations that have occurred during this time.

If the issue is only moving violations and you were licensed properly in another state during that time, they will not have the same negative impact as if you were driving without a license.  However, they still can have a negative impact. 

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Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.