License Restoration

General Information Regarding Driver License Sanctions

Based on the changes made to the Michigan drunk driving statutes in October 1999, the Secretary of State was given total power and authority over the administration of driver license sanctions for all drinking related traffic offenses. According to this statutory scheme, the first offender loses his/her license for a period of either 90 days for an OWI or 180 days for an OUIL. At the expiration of this period the driver need only go to his/her local Secretary of State Branch Office, pay a fee and apply for a new license. Provided there are no other impediments, the offender will receive then his/her license with full driving privileges.

The same is not true for the repeat offender, i.e., anyone with a prior drinking related traffic offense within either 7 or 10 years, depending on the circumstances. The second repeat offense carries a mandatory license revocation of a minimum one year period, and the third repeat offense carries a mandatory license revocation of five years.

Approximately 10 days after the Secretary of State receives notice of the conviction, the driver is notified by mail of the “to/from” dates, i.e., when the revocation starts and ends. At the end of this period the driver may not seek a new license at the Branch Office, but instead must file a petition with the Secretary of State’s main office in Lansing. A hearing is then scheduled with the Driver License Appeal Division (DLAD). The “Petitioner” (person who qualifies for a hearing) then appears at this hearing and attempts to convince the hearing officer to return his/her driver license. If the Petitioner is not successful, he/she may not petition the DLAD again until the expiration of one year after the determination is first made.

What Factors Are Considered At The Dlad Hearing?

There are administrative rules that apply to these driver license hearings, and they set forth what the hearing officer may consider in making a determination if they will order that a driver license be issued. These are set forth in Rule 13. This rule indicates that the Petitioner has the burden of showing by “clear and convincing” evidence that (1) the Petitioner’s alcohol or substance abuse problems (if any) are under control and likely to remain under control; (2) the risk of the Petitioner repeating his/her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk; (3) the risk of Petitioner repeating the act of drunk driving is a low or minimal risk; and (4) the Petitioner has the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.

The hearing officer will also require that the Petitioner provide clear and convincing evidence that he/she has completely abstained from the use of alcohol or controlled substances for a period of either 6 or 12 months, depending on the underlying circumstances.

If your driving record contains substance abuse indicators (OUIL, UBAC, OUID, OWI / OUIL with death or injury, child endangerment, implied Consent Suspension, X 3 accident, 625g permit), you will need to complete a substance abuse evaluation form and have it with you at your DLAD hearing.

What Evidence May Be Presented?

The hearing officer may require that the Petitioner present evidence from not less than 3 different sources to support his/her behavior with respect to alcohol and/or controlled substances. These might include things like a urinalysis drug screen to show the absence of drugs or alcohol, a substance abuse evaluation (on the form provided by the Secretary of State), letters from persons that document the Petitioner’s behavior, proof of involvement, both past and current, with a treatment program or programs, and proof of his/her past and current structured support program (this usually means AA). A Nichols & Eberth attorney can help you prepare and present your evidence in the light most favorable to you.

If I Win, Do I Get My License Back?

There are essentially three options, a total denial, a restricted license (with or without an ignition interlock device) or a full restoration. What type of license is issued is totally at the discretion of the hearing officer based on the evidence presented.

What Happens If I Lose?

You will basically have three choices. You may either (1) wait the year until you are next eligible for a new hearing; (2) file a petition for rehearing, or (3) appeal the hearing officer’s determination to the Circuit Court. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options, and these should be discussed with your attorney.