Person driving after getting their license back

If you have had your Michigan driver’s license suspended or revoked, you’re probably curious about how you can go about getting it back. The process of having a Michigan driver’s license restored or reinstated can vary greatly depending on a number of factors.

In fact, the terminology makes a big difference. If your license has been suspended, it may be relatively easy to get it back when compared to someone who has had their license fully revoked. It’s important to understand the difference between these two actions, since that will determine what steps you need to take to win back your driving rights. Here’s an explanation of each one, along with some of the requirements you’ll need to keep in mind throughout the process.

The Differences Between a Suspended License and a Revoked License

Put simply, a suspended license is almost always easier to get back than a revoked license. A license can be suspended for a wide variety of reasons, from leaving the scene of an accident to lying on official Secretary of State documents. The suspension period can also vary greatly, from about 30 days to a year or more. In rare cases, licenses can even be suspended indefinitely. If your license has been suspended, you need to wait the specified period of time before applying for reinstatement through the SOS. However, if you’ve made it through that time period without any further incidents, your request should generally be approved. Another option, during the suspension, is to seek a restricted license either through the Secretary of State or Circuit Court depending on the circumstances.

A revoked license is one that has been fully taken away indefinitely. This usually occurs when a person has been convicted of multiple DUIs. There is still a waiting period involved. Usually, a person with two DUIs will need to wait for at least a year, and those with three or more DUIs will need to wait for at least five years. Once that time is up, you have to apply for a hearing and fight your case to prove that you can be trusted to operate a vehicle safely going forward. It is not automatically restored simply by visiting the SOS office and paying a small fee.

Steps Involved With How to Get Your License Back

If you’re dealing with a suspended license, the process of getting your license back should be fairly straightforward. Pay close attention to the duration of your suspension. Once that time period has passed, you should probably be able to get your license restored just by visiting your local SOS office and paying a reinstatement fee. In some cases, there may be other steps involved, but it is usually a fairly straightforward process that can be completed relatively quickly. Also, during the suspension, you may try to get a restricted license.

If you’re dealing with a revoked license, on the other hand, the process can be much more complicated and time consuming. First, you’ll need to wait for at least a year, or longer if you’re dealing with three or more DUI convictions. Then you have to apply for a hearing with the SOS. There, you’ll need to present evidence to prove that you’ve been sober for at least a year and that you’ve take concrete steps to deal with your substance abuse issues. You should present evidence such as: 10-panel drug screen, a substance use evaluation form from a state-licensed substance abuse counselor, three to six letters of support from people who can vouch for your sobriety, and proof of counseling (like AA attendance logs or a note from your sponsor). You’ll also need to testify at your hearing. And you may be required to drive on a restricted license using an interlock device for about a year before having your license fully restored.

How Is Eligibility Determined for License Restoration?

Anyone is eligible to apply for license restoration, provided you have waited for the required time period. However, your chances of actually getting your license restored or reinstated vary greatly depending on your particular situation. Of course, those with suspended licenses have a much better chance of restoration than those whose driving rights have been fully revoked. But it is definitely possible to win a driver’s license restoration case when you have a revoked license. You just need to meet as many of the basic requirements as possible.

Basically, you’re tasked with proving that the substance abuse problems that led to those DUI convictions are a thing of the past and that you can be trusted to safely operate a vehicle going forward. To do this, you’ll need to apply for a hearing with the SOS and present evidence and testimony to support your case. The hearing officer will look at things like the number of alcohol and drug related offenses, the amount and duration of any relapses, whether counseling or treatment was undertaken, AA or support group attendance and evaluations, length of sobriety, and your testimony. If you have at least a year of sobriety and have taken several concrete steps to maintain that sobriety, that goes a long way.

How Long Can It Take to Get My Suspended License Restored?

For a suspended license, the time period for getting your driver’s license restored is wholly dependent upon the length of suspension. There typically is not a major waiting period or lengthy process involved beyond that time period.

When dealing with a revoked license, you also need to take the waiting period into account. Beyond that, you need to schedule a hearing, take time to gather your evidence, present your testimony, and then potentially drive on a restricted license for a year or more. Every case is different, but this process can take some time. Overall, it’s better to take the necessary time up front to prove your sobriety and build a strong case than to deal with multiple appeals or court issues, which can prolong your reinstatement even further.

Can My Driver’s License Record Be Cleared?

In Michigan, a driving record cannot be cleared or expunged. The only way to move forward is by opening a driver’s license restoration case with the Secretary of State. If you’re successful, you’ll eventually be able to enjoy full and unrestricted driving rights again, even if past DUIs and traffic offenses still technically exist on your record.