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“So, You Want to Get Your License Back”

by Dec 28, 2017



Over the years, a number of clients have come to me and the firm of Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC, requesting assistance in getting their operator’s (driver’s) license back.  In most cases the privilege to drive has been suspended or revoked by the Michigan Secretary of State because they consider that individual to be a habitual offender due to multiple arrests for driving while intoxicated.

In order to start the process of getting your license back you must first complete a Request for Administrative Review form that is sent in to the Administrative Hearings Section of the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) with a Request for Hearing before the Drivers Assessment Appeal Division.   In this Request, the Petitioner (the person who wants to get his/her driving privileges restored), must be able to affirmatively state that they have not consumed any alcoholic beverages in the past 6 consecutive months (for all intents and purposes you  should really be alcohol free for the past 12 months).  In addition, they must supply at least 3 notarized letters of support from  their spouse, close friends, family members, work associates, and the like (generally people who see the Petitioner on a regular basis) who can attest to the continued  sobriety of the Petitioner and changes they have noticed in his/her attitude as a result of such sobriety.   These persons (or others) should also be available, if necessary, to testify at the Administrative hearing that will be scheduled about 6-8 weeks after the Request is submitted.

The Request must also be accompanied by a current copy of the Petitioner’s Master Driving Record as well as a recently completed alcohol assessment from an accredited alcohol counseling agency.  While not in the statute, you should also expect to produce attendance records from attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or a similar alcohol counseling agency, showing that you recognize that you have an alcohol problem and that you are taking all reasonable steps to keep it under control.  Having an AA sponsor and knowing the 12 steps of the AA program is also very helpful.  If there is anything in the driving record or alcohol assessment that you believe is in error or should be corrected, you should be prepared to clarify and testify about that particular item at the time of the administrative hearing, which is conducted by an Administrative Law Judge at a local SOS hearing office.

At the time of the hearing, the Petitioner has the burden of proof to show that their alcohol problems are under control and will likely remain under control and that the risk of repeating their prior abusive behavior is minimal.  Consequently, the Petitioner will have  to testify as to his/her drinking history, what got them into trouble, what life changes have been made to keep that type of situation or behavior from recurring (such as going to AA and not hanging around with the same old drinking buddies),  and what you would do if it did arise again in the future.  The object is to show that you understand you have an alcohol problem, that you have made necessary life changes such that you believe you have it under control and that it will remain under control, and that the chances of repeating such abusive behavior (drinking and driving) is remote.  (This is one of the reasons why you want to show regular and continued attendance at AA or another alcohol counseling agency). The hearing officer assigned to the matter (there are 2 in Grand Rapids) will likely ask you a number of questions, after your direct examination is concluded.  You can also call a few witnesses who can testify on your behalf, such as your spouse, as to your continued sobriety, and change in habits and life style that will likely prevent such abusive activity from happening again.   The hearing officer may ask them questions as well.

Assuming you can convince the hearing officer that you are a good risk, you would first get your driving privileges back on a restricted basis, for 12 months, allowing you to drive to/from and during the course of employment, and to/from educational and medical facilities.  This restricted license will also be  conditioned upon the installation of an ignition interlock device, where  you have to blow into a tube to start the car as well as  periodically, during the course of its operation, to make sure you have not consumed any alcoholic beverages prior or during its operation. .  If you are “clean” during the following 12 months you can then reapply for return of full driving privileges by filing a similar Request accompanied by like documents as well as your ignition interlock devise reports showing no violations.  (If you have any violations of the interlock device your license will likely be suspended or revoked again).

If you are denied a license, you have a short period of time to appeal that decision to the SOS or to the local Circuit Court, typically  in the county in which you reside.  However, in most cases the chances of prevailing are generally small,  as you would have to show the hearing officer’s decision was not supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence; was arbitrary or capricious or clearly an abuse or unwarranted exercise of discretion; or was affected by other substantial and material error(s) of law.

If you need to get your driving privileges back, don’t fool around with this yourself.  If you do not prevail at the administrative hearing, you generally have to wait another year before you can reapply again.  Make sure all of your proverbial ducks are in order so that you can present the most persuasive case possible.  Contact the legal professionals at Damon, Ver Merris, Boyko & Witte, PLC, by calling us at (616) 975-9951.  We can guide you through this process and give you the best possible chance at getting back on the road.  – Larry A. Ver Merris / December 28, 2017

While this posting originates from a law office, none of the contents should, in any way, be considered legal advice. If you have not signed a retention letter describing the legal services to be provided and the amount to be paid for such services, you are not a client of this firm.



While this posting originates from a law office, none of the contents should, in any way, be considered legal advice. If you have not signed a retention letter describing the legal services to be provided and the amount to be paid for such services, you are not a client of this firm.

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