You’ve lost your driver’s license. Now, your world is upended. Remember when you used to be able to drive to the grocery store for a gallon of milk whenever you ran out? Those were the good old days. And, I bet you never in your life thought you’d get to this point where being able to drive to the store feels like a luxurious privilege.
It’s important to understand that, in Michigan, the court sees your ability to drive as a privilege and not a right. The ability to legally drive is something you test for and earn through the state. Then, if you mess up, the state takes it away. And, although you understand driving is a privilege that you’ve earned, it sure makes life hard when the state takes away your ability to drive to work, drop your kids off at school, or run to the store for groceries.
You know you messed up, but there has to be another solution. You can’t go on like this without the ability to drive. Surely, there’s something you can do or say to get your Michigan driver’s license restored, right?
At Weise Law, we’re here to help. Our experienced lawyers have successfully handled tons of Michigan driver’s license restoration cases. Give us a call today at (616) 931-7030 to discuss the specifics of your situation. Then, we’ll be able to tell you exactly what you need to do to get your license back. Or, if you’d rather send us an email, go here to contact us.
Keep reading to learn the steps and procedures necessary to restore your license. We’ll also share the answers to the top questions our clients ask about having their Michigan driver’s license restored.
Are you eligible for a restricted driver’s license?
If you’re tired of public transit or bumming rides from your friends and coworkers, this is the first question you need to ask yourself. A restricted driver’s license might be an option for you if your license has been suspended for more than 30 days because of an operating while intoxicated (OWI) conviction. Unfortunately, 30 days is a hard and fast rule. If you’ve been living without your license for less than 30 days, you’ve got to wait.
However, if you were convicted of a high blood alcohol content (BAC) OWI, you need to wait at least 45 days before appealing for a restricted driver’s license. Just as long as your license hasn’t been revoked, you should be able to appeal to the Secretary of State after your 30 or 45 days to request a restricted driver’s license.
Mind you, a restricted driver’s license won’t be the solution to your driving problem. This isn’t a way to shirk your punishment. Instead, it’s a way to help you be a reliable citizen while you’re fulfilling your legal requirements.
Where can you drive on a restricted license?
A restricted driver’s license only lets you drive certain places. So, there will be no exotic beach trips or vacations—at least, you won’t be driving there. As you might imagine, the rules are fairly strict about where you can and can’t go with your restricted license.
If you are awarded a restricted license, you may go to:
- Drug and/or alcohol treatment programs as ordered by the court,
- Probation meetings,
- School if you’re currently enrolled as a student,
- Community service, and
- Doctors appointments for you or a family member.
It’s important for you to carry the appropriate documentation with you in your car to justify why you’re driving. For example, if you’re headed to work, carry a copy of your work schedule. If you’re going to school, carry a copy of your class schedule.
If you are pulled over by the police while driving with a restricted license, you’ll show the officer who pulled you over your paperwork to justify why you were out and about. Have your paperwork handy and everything should be just fine.
However, if you don’t have the paperwork on you—even if you were truly going where someplace authorized—you will be found in violation of your restricted license. This could result in an additional misdemeanor charge.
Trust me, the judges don’t care about why you didn’t have your paperwork on you. They’re uninterested in excuses. Instead, it’s likely you’ll face fines, court costs, and maybe some jail time.
What is a hardship driver’s license?
A hardship driver’s license is another phrase for a restricted driver’s license. It’s a way to allow you to have appropriate and reasonable access to your automobile while you’re fulfilling your legal requirements.
What are the steps to get a restricted license in Michigan?
In order to get a restricted license in Michigan, you need to file a petition with the Circuit Court in the county where your arrest occurred. Then, it will be sent to the Secretary of State for review.
You or your lawyer must petition within 63 days after the initial ruling was made. However, there is a chance that if you make a good argument for why your appeal was delayed, you might be able to submit your request up to 182 days after your initial ruling.
Your petition should include your full name, current address, birth date, and driver’s license number. The order setting the hearing, petition, and all supporting affidavits should be filed in the Secretary of State’s office at 430 West Allegan Street, P.O. Box 30196, Lansing, MI 48909-7696. The Secretary of State must be notified at least 20 days before the hearing. However, if there is a review of the record, you must give a 50-day notice so a transcript can be prepared.
For more information, check out the Secretary of State’s website. But honestly, it would be so much easier if you’d let us help. At Weise Law, we’ve successfully helped tons of people get restricted driver’s licenses. You can give us a call today at (616) 931-7030 or go here to contact us online.
What are the requirements for a Michigan driver’s license restoration?
When you’re trying to figure out whether you could successfully petition the Secretary of State to have your driver’s license restored, there are three important questions you need to answer.
- How long has it been since you lost your license?
- Have you been sober for at least a year?
- Have you been pulled over for driving without a license in the past year?
Your answers to these questions will determine whether it’s worth your time to try to get your driver’s license back yet. Keep in mind, these questions all have correct answers. And, when your license is at stake, only being able to answer two out of the three questions with the correct answers just won’t cut it.
1. How long has it been since you lost your license?
In most cases, you have to wait a year after the date you lost your license before you can request a hearing. However, this isn’t true for everyone. If it’s been almost a year since your license was revoked, you should give us a call at (616) 931-7030. We’ll review the specifics of your case and, if it looks like you’ll meet the requirements to have your license reinstated, we’ll start work on that immediately. Or, if you’d rather chat with us online, go here to contact us.
2. Have you been sober for at least a year?
This is a very specific and difficult question. It might seem easy. You’ve either been sober for a year or not, right? But what you might not realize is that you are supposed to answer about whether or not you’ve had total and complete sobriety since your incident.
There is almost no wiggle room here. You either have not had a single drink since your last time in court—or you have. If you’ve been drinking, even if you wouldn’t say that you got drunk, your request is probably going to be denied.
Furthermore, you’re going to need documented proof that you’ve been sober. You’ll need letters from reputable friends and if you’ve been attending a rehabilitation program such as AA, you’ll want letters verifying your attendance or letters from the leaders.
To learn more about what specific paperwork is required for your appeal, scroll down to the section titled “How do you get your license unsuspended in Michigan?”
3. Have you been pulled over for driving without a license in the past year?
This is incredibly important. If you’ve been pulled over for driving without a license in the past year, set your sights for a new hearing date one year from the last date when you were pulled over.
Even if it’s been a year since your license was taken away, even if you’ve had a full year of sobriety if you’ve been caught driving without a license you need to set your appeal date at least one year from when you were last pulled over for driving without a license.
Also, if you’re currently risking it and driving without a license, please stop. We see this so many times. One quick-yet-illegal trip to the grocery store can result in you having to restart your clock and wait even longer to get your license back. It’s not worth it, I promise.
How do you get your license unsuspended in Michigan?
If you can’t honestly say that it’s been a year since you lost your license, a year since your last drink, and a year since you were pulled over for driving without a license; just wait until you have the right answers before you proceed. But, once you know you’ll answer the three most important questions to help you get your license unsuspended correctly, you’re ready to proceed.
Luckily, there aren’t a ton of steps that stand between you and getting your license back. Unfortunately, it’s going to require a lot of paperwork to be filed correctly and in a timely manner.
What papers need to be filed so I can have my license reinstated?
Now is the time to start gathering your paperwork. You’ll need:
- A 12-panel drug test. You’ll want to do this before you go get a substance abuse evaluation. This is because your substance abuse evaluator needs those results to be able to complete your evaluation.
Also, if your drug test comes back and shows you have illegal drugs or alcohol in your system, there’s not much point in proceeding. Take your time and make sure you’ll pass your 12-panel drug screen before you try again.
- A substance abuse evaluation. Once you have the results from your 12-panel drug test, you’ll want to schedule a substance abuse evaluation. Often, having a good evaluator can make a huge difference in your ability to have your license reinstated. We can recommend several evaluators in your area and prepare you for the questions that your evaluator might ask.
In general, the evaluator will ask you about your history with drugs and alcohol. Plus, he or she will ask about your family and friends to see if you have a quality support network. He or she will also ask about your recovery program to ensure you keep making progress and don’t lapse and slide back to your old ways. Your evaluator will also ask questions about different stressors in your life like work or family that might trigger you in the future.
- Documentation of sobriety from friends and others who know you well. You will need between three and six reference letters from people who know you very well. The letters should attest to your sobriety and be signed and notarized. Try to think of this as an opportunity and not an obligation.
What you’re looking for is people who can speak up about the changes you’ve made in your life. You’re looking for people who are well-written and can tell a good story about how you’ve changed over the past year or so—specifically since you’ve become sober.
Powerful letters could come from friends, family, co-workers, leaders, or role models. If you’re in a group like Alcoholics Anonymous, it might be beneficial to have a letter from your sponsor. Regardless of who writes your letters, you’ll want that person to include:
- how the person knows you,
- how long he or she has known you,
- the last time the person was aware (or saw) you using drugs or alcohol, and
- how often the person sees you.
- Evidence of your sobriety. Proving that you’re sober might sound like a daunting task, but don’t stress yourself out over it. There are a couple of tools you could use to show your hearing officer that you’ve taken your punishment seriously and have changed your life for the better.
First of all, you could use your Alcoholics Anonymous experience. If you participated in AA, ask your sponsor to write a letter verifying your sobriety and detailing your experience with the 12 steps. You can also have someone verify your regular attendance at the meetings.
Second, if you didn’t participate in AA, you can prove your sobriety by having your therapist or certified drug and alcohol counselor write a letter on your behalf. You could also participate in Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) meetings, which are non-12 step support group meetings for recovery and abstinence from drugs and alcohol. The SMART program takes a scientific approach to self-recovery.
However, if you lost your license because of alcohol or illegal drug use and you haven’t been doing some sort of recovery therapy, you need to start now. Choose the group or therapist that will work best for you. Then, put in the time with a professional where you can prove that you’re committed to your sobriety. Otherwise, it might be a while before your license will be reinstated.
How to file your papers so your Michigan license will be reinstated
Now that you’ve got your drug test results, substance evaluation, and all of your letters and forms complete you are ready to submit a request for a hearing. Absolutely make sure all of your papers are together before you send your packet to the Secretary of State and ask for a hearing date. If you’ve forgotten something, the hearing won’t be granted and it will add months to your time without a license.
It might seem silly, but this is exactly why you need help from an experienced lawyer. Think of it this way, would you rather have help from a seasoned pro who has helped tons of clients with their Michigan driver’s license restoration? Or, would you rather do it yourself and hope you’ve done everything correctly?
If you’re serious about getting your driver’s license reinstated as soon as possible give us a call today at (616) 931-7030 or go here to contact us. We’ll tell you exactly what we should do next and get the ball rolling so you can be legally back behind the wheel as soon as possible.
Your Hearing to Reinstate Your Michigan Driver’s License
We submitted a perfect packet of information to the Secretary of State and, after about two or three months of waiting, we were notified that your hearing date is set for two or three weeks from today. Hooray! Now, we just need to get ready for the hearing.
In order to have a successful hearing and get your license back, you need to show the hearing officer that you:
- have your alcohol or substance abuse problems under control and are unlikely to lose control again,
- are unlikely to repeat your past abusive behavior,
- are unlikely to drink and drive again,
- have the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.
It’s important to understand that the hearing officer is a direct agent of the Secretary of State. As you might expect, different hearing officers have different personalities and preferences. At Weise Law, we know all the hearing officers in the state and can completely prepare you for what to expect when you enter the room to meet with your assigned hearing officer.
After your hearing—after you’ve answered all of the hearing officer’s questions and submitted all of your paperwork—it will be a waiting game. Unfortunately, you’ll wait about four to six weeks to learn the verdict of your case.
This is why it’s so incredibly important for you to make sure you’ve done everything you can to get your Michigan license reinstated before you go to your hearing. Remember, you gather your paperwork and mail it, wait two to three months, find out your hearing is in two to three weeks, and then wait four to six weeks for a verdict. This means from the time you mail your paperwork to the time you read your verdict, it could be anywhere from three and a half months to five months.
Then, when you add on your initial time without your license (which is at least one year), it means you’ve been without your license for at least a year and three and a half months. Of course, if you didn’t get sober right away or got pulled over for driving without a license, it could be longer.
The point is you’ve been without your license for long enough! The last thing you want is a negative verdict and another chunk of months between you and having your Michigan driver’s license reinstated.
At Weise Law, we’re here to help. We’ve successfully handled so many driver’s license reinstatement cases. We know exactly what to do and when. Furthermore, we’ll let you know what you need to be doing. Then, we’ll work together to prove to the hearing officer that you deserve to have your license again, and we’ll get your driver’s license restored. Give us a call today at (616) 931-7030 or go here to contact us.
My driver’s license has been restored but…
When your hearing officer rules that your Michigan driver’s license should be reinstated, your car will be equipped with an interlock device. You might know this as an in-car breathalyzer.
Essentially, you have to blow into the device, and it will measure whether your breath has any alcohol in it. Then, if it appears that you’re not under the influence, your car will start and you’ll be able to drive.
You might also have restrictions on where you can drive. After a year, you can petition to have your breathalyzer removed and your restrictions lifted.
Whether your license was reinstated or not, you’re going to need a little bit more legal help in the future and Weise Law is here for you. Just give us a call at (616) 931-7030 or go here to contact us and let us know what you need. We’ll level with you and tell you what you need to do to get back to driving without being constantly monitored.