Michigan has an Administrative process for those seeking to reinstate their driver’s license after two or more DUIs. The Michigan driver’s license restoration process involves presenting evidence and attending a hearing in front of a hearing officer. Michigan has a process for both its residents and former residents living in other states.
Michigan residents must attend 2 hearings if they have 2 or more DUIs and are not on a sobriety court-restricted license. At the first hearing you’re seeking a restricted license. If successful, you will then be required to install an alcohol detector in your car. The alcohol detector is referred to as an “interlock device.” After driving for one year with the interlock device, residents are eligible to attend a second hearing where they will seek a full driver’s license. If you’re on a sobriety court restricted license with an interlock device, you’ll be requesting a full driver’s license at your initial hearing. If successful, you do not need to attend a second hearing.
Former Michigan Residents
The process is somewhat different for former Michigan residents living in other states. The same information is required except you can submit your evidence for review by mail. This process is known as an Administrative Review. If successful, you will not need to attend a hearing; however, if your administrative review is unsuccessful you have the option of requesting a hearing. If your case is successful, the State of Michigan will issue what is known as a clearance. A clearance will allow you to apply for a license in the state where you’re currently living.
What You Must Prove
What do you have to prove to win? You must clearly and convincingly prove the following:
- Your substance and/or alcohol problem is under control and will stay that way in the future.
- You have a low risk of driving under the influence and a low risk of repeating your past abusive behavior in the future.
- You are motivated and have the ability to safely drive within the limits of the law.
- You have been sober for at least 6 to 12 months. As a lawyer handling driver’s license cases, I can tell you that the vast majority of those seeking driver’s license reinstatement will need at least 12 months of sobriety. The hearing officer, in some cases, will require an even longer period of sobriety.
You must prove your case clearly and convincingly. This is a very high standard of proof. The bottom line is this: at the conclusion of your hearing, there cannot be any doubt in the hearing officers mind or you will lose.
Remember, if you lose your driver’s license case, you typically have to wait one full year before you can attempt to get your license back again. Obviously, it’s important to submit the required information to the Secretary of State. So let’s discuss what you must submit to prove your case.
I cannot stress enough how important the evidence is. Think of it as the foundation of your case. Your case is based on the evidence. You should analyze the evidence to make sure it is completed as the state requires and that it is favorable.
You must submit the following:
- A 10-panel drug screen with at least two of the following three integrity checks: pH level, specific gravity, or creatinine.
- A Substance Use Evaluation filled out by a qualified, state-licensed substance abuse counselor. The evaluator will render a diagnosis, prognosis, and make recommendations.
- 3-6 letters from friends, family, and co-workers. The purpose of the letters is to verify your sobriety, and they should be specific and not vague. I recommend 5-6 letters.
- You must submit an 8-page Request for Hearing form. This form requests a lot of information including your convictions, past use history, and sobriety dates.
- If you have an interlock device installed in your car, you must submit an interlock annual report which is less than 30 days old at the time your case is submitted to the Secretary of State. This document tells the Secretary of State whether you’ve had any issues such as violations while using the interlock device. Be prepared to deal with any problems noted on the annual report.
- You should also submit documentation (if any) of counseling or treatment, as well as any evidence of support such as attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous. You may want to submit sign-in sheets, and it is recommended that you submit a letter from your sponsor.
- For former Michigan residents only, you need to submit proof of out-of-state residency. I would usually recommend 3 to 4 items such as: state ID, utility bills, phone bill, employment records, and bank records.
All Michigan residents need to attend a hearing and often this is required for former Michigan residents as well. In my practice as an attorney, I see a lot of clients who don’t think the hearing is that important. I advise them otherwise. Do not take the hearing lightly. Remember, the hearing officer is judging you during the hearing. The hearing officer evaluates your testimony as well as the evidence and ultimately makes a decision as to whether or not you win your driver’s license restoration case. You can also call witnesses to testify on your behalf. Sometimes this is a good idea and sometimes it isn’t. It is a judgment call that is very dependent on the circumstances in each case.
Paying Attention to the Details
As a lawyer handling Michigan driver’s license reinstatement cases, I can tell you that it is extremely important to pay very close attention to the evidence that is submitted. Is all of the evidence consistent? Does it address the concerns the hearing officer is likely to have? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your case? Do you have a strategy for dealing with any weaknesses? Remember the outcome of your driver’s license case is based on all of the evidence that has been submitted as well as your testimony. It is imperative that the evidence proves your case and meets state requirements.
Mark Langschied is an attorney that handles Michigan driver’s license restoration cases statewide. His website is www.marklangschiedlaw.com.