How Long Does A Person Have To Wait To Become Legally Eligible To File A Driver’s License Restoration After Multiple OWIs?
A person’s eligibility depends on his/her master driving
record. A defense attorney should require a potential client to get a current
copy of his or her driving record to determine specific eligibility for an
As a general rule, a person convicted of two 625 offenses
within 7 years will be revoked and ineligible for a license appeal hearing for
one year—unless he/she enrolls in a state-certified Sobriety Court. A person convicted of three 625 offenses
within 10 years will generally be revoked for a minimum of 5 years (unless they
did not suffer a prior revocation).
Lastly, a person convicted of most OWI felony offenses will generally be
revoked for a minimum of one year.
Can’t I Just Get Some Kind Of Restricted License For Work?
If revoked, the answer is generally no. When a person is revoked, there is no legal
ability to seek a hardship or restricted driver’s license, even for employment. If suspended, the answer is generally
maybe. For example, if a driver violates
the implied consent law, he or she can seek a hardship license in front of a
circuit court judge, asking for work privileges only. Likewise, if a person is convicted of
OWI/High BAC, he will receive an automatic restricted license after 45 days’
suspension, so long as he installs a BAIID in any vehicle driven. However, a person may not receive any
restricted/work privileges during a “hard” suspension (such as the 30 days
imposed for a first-time OWI conviction).
Can I Go To Circuit Court For A License Hardship?
In 1999, Michigan courts lost virtually all original
jurisdiction over driver’s license issues, with the exception of a few limited
procedures. Now, the grand majority of license jurisdiction falls with the
Michigan SOS, and in particular, the Administrative Hearing Section (AHS),
which used to be called the Driver’s Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD), and
even earlier called the Driver’s License Appeals Division (DLAD).
Circuit Courts do maintain appellate jurisdiction over most
AHS decisions, including when a person is denied relief at AHS and files a
legal challenge to that ruling in front of the circuit court judge. Similarly, a person can seek hardship/equitable
privileges from a Circuit Court following an implied consent suspension. For implied consent appeals, jurisdiction
lies with the Circuit Court in the county of OWI arrest. For all other appellate relief, jurisdiction
lies with the Circuit Court of the Petitioner’s residence.
Does Being Eligible To File A License Appeal Mean I Will Automatically Get My License Back?
According to the SOS’s most recent published statistics, approximately
two-thirds of drivers are denied relief at their first license appeal
hearing. Many Petitioners are either
unprepared for the rigors of the hearing, or are not committed to
sobriety. And, when denied, they usually
have to wait an additional year before reapplying. In some unfortunate cases, Petitioners
continue to lose for years and years on end.
In contrast, a specialized, experienced license appeal
attorney often has much more successful statistics, and should be able to
demonstrate a long track record of success at a variety of license appeal
hearings. License Appeal Specialists
should only take on clients who are committed to sobriety, who have their
documents in order, and are serious and dedicated to proving their case.
What Is The License Restoration Process Once I Am Eligible After A Revocation?
Put bluntly, the process is extraordinarily time-consuming
and detailed. A driver must submit many documents to AHS to even request a
hearing. These documents include a substance abuse evaluation (“SAE”) screening
from a trained/licensed therapist, letters of support, and documentation of
counseling/treatment. All of these documents are submitted to AHS in
preparation for an actual hearing, at which time testimony will be taken from
the revoked driver.
License appeal hearings are conducted either live or via
videoconference and are presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (aka,
“Hearing Officer”) employed by SOS. As
of 2018, there are 10 different Hearing Officers; three live hearing locations;
and dozens of videoconference sites.
Typically, the hearings are scheduled in proximity to the Petitioner’s
residence, and the Hearing Officers are assigned at random.
How Do I Prepare For The Appeal Hearing?
For starters, if you are financially able, you should
certainly consider retaining a license appeal specialist attorney to assist in
this process. An experienced specialist will walk you through every step of the
appeals process, and should be able to demonstrate a long track record of
success in the process.
That said, with or without an attorney, the best way to
adequately prepare for a hearing is to document and provide all
treatment/rehabilitation efforts and be prepared to answer many questions related
to sobriety and methods of achieving long-term sobriety. To be clear, a license appeal hearing is not
about a Petitioner’s need for a license; it’s about a Petitioner’s sobriety
(or, in many cases, lack thereof).
How Do I Prove Sobriety?
Sobriety is a very difficult and often nebulous concept to
prove. Generally, proof of sobriety comes in the form of sworn testimony by the
Petitioner, as well as written/documentary evidence from therapist(s) and
friends/family who can attest to the Petitioner’s abstinence date and other
sobriety markers. Also, Petitioners are
required to submit current 10-panel drug/alcohol toxicology reports to prove
current abstinence. Lastly, Petitioners
must submit a current SAE which documents sobriety/abstinence and gives both a
formal diagnosis and prognosis for continued sobriety.
What Actually Happens At The Hearing?
First, all documents that were submitted for the hearing are
marked and introduced into evidence.
Second, sworn testimony is taken from the Petitioner regarding his
background, criminal history, and sobriety efforts. The Hearing Officer and/or
the Petitioner’s attorney (if applicable) will question the Petitioner, in
detail, about these areas and will review all of the documents that have been
submitted. Third, the Petitioner (or his attorney) will be given an opportunity
to make a closing argument and, if allowed, submit any additional documentation
post-hearing. Then, the Hearing Officer
will issue a written opinion, either granting or denying the petition for a
What Happens Post-Hearing?
If the Hearing Officer finds in favor of the Petitioner,
typically a restricted license will be granted along with a requirement of
BAIID Installation. Again, typically,
that restricted license will be required for a minimum of one year before the
Petitioner can come back to AHS and request full privileges. At a hearing requesting full privileges, the
same process repeats---accumulation of written documents, scheduling of
hearing, sworn testimony—with the chief difference being the requirement that
the Petitioner submit an updated and certified BAIID report showing full
compliance. If the BAIID report shows
any major or minor violations, the Petitioner will have to address each
satisfactorily or will face continued restrictions, or, in some instances,
reinstatement of revocation.
If the Hearing Officer finds against the Petitioner,
typically the Petitioner will have to wait one calendar year to apply
again. Or, the Petitioner can file for
appellate remedy in the Circuit Court of his/her County of Residence. A legal appeal challenges the propriety of
the Hearing Officer’s decision (with the standard of proof being an Abuse of
Discretion) and can ask for either an immediate re-hearing, or full
If a Circuit Court judge reverses the AHS decision, the
driver may receive full privileges once the signed order is sent to the
Secretary of State. If the judge orders
an immediate re-hearing (called a “remand”), that hearing will be conducted
several weeks later and should be supplemented with new evidence.
The appellate process for driver’s appeals—much like the
underlying system itself--is quite cumbersome and confusing. Finding an attorney who’s experienced in
license appeals—at both the Secretary of State and Circuit Court levels—is
obviously advantageous for clients who are fighting to legally drive
For more information on Restoring
Your Driver’s License In Michigan, an initial consultation is your next
best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (734) 263-2780 today.