Last updated on January 13, 2022

How to Get Your License Back After a DUI

Losing your license is stressful and makes life very difficult, especially if you have a family to take care of. Hardships include things you probably always took for granted, such as getting to work; taking the kids to school, activities, and doctors’ appointments; and going grocery shopping. You can’t even take the car to go a couple of blocks down the street to pick up milk at the convenience store. In order to be a productive adult, you need to have a driver’s license.

Determining Eligibility to Get Your License Back

In general, you must meet three requirements to get your license back. If you do not meet all three, you won’t be able to complete the process.

Date Eligible

You cannot apply for a hearing to get your license back until a year has passed since the revocation if this is your first revocation.  To find this information, we’ll look at your driving record. It will have the date of the revocation and the eligibility date. As long as you meet the other two criteria and you have no extenuating circumstances such as having a restricted license because of a disability.

Being Sober

In order to be eligible for a hearing to get your driver’s license back, you will generally have to have been sober for at least a year. Even if you don’t have a drinking problem, the law considers you a habitual offender if you have two DUI or DWI offenses. You will have to show proof that you have the drinking under control and that you are not likely going to have another incident.  The requirements are total sobriety.  Regardless of your ability to control your drinking the law requires sobriety and that’s what we help you demonstrate and prove in your hearing.  It is the most critical element of getting your license back.  

Clean Driving Record

The third requirement you must meet is that you cannot have been caught driving without a license for the past year. If you are caught, the time starts all over again. Because it is so difficult to provide for yourself and your family, many people do drive without a license. If you are one of them, stop doing that right away. If you have had a clean record for 363 days and get caught driving on Day 364, you have to start the year all over again.

Getting Ready for the Hearing

If you have met all of the above qualifications, you are ready to ask for a hearing through the Secretary of State’s Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight. You will need to provide documents and forms the show you have been “clean” for the past year and that you will not be likely to pick up your old drinking and driving habits. Once you ask for a hearing, you’ll get a hearing date in front of a hearing officer. The hearing officer is similar to a judge or magistrate in that the hearing officer looks at the evidence, comes to an opinion and then makes a decision.  Proper preparation for this hearing is key to success.  The SOS does not take this issue lightly.  

Build Your Case

Before you do ask for a hearing, you have to build your case. These are the documents you have to provide at the hearing; you will need to complete and/or provide:

  • A panel drug screen to show you are not currently using drugs or alcohol. This should be completed before you do the substance abuse evaluation. The licensed substance abuse counselor will review the drug test results and will include it in the report.  If you retain us to help you get your license back we provide help, guidance and advice about all of the necessary paperwork and make sure it is completed properly before we submit it to the DLAD requesting a hearing.  Paperwork is key and it can be confusing for people who have never dealt with this before.  
  • A substance abuse evaluation. The person doing the evaluation will discuss your history with alcohol and/or drugs. He or she will also look at and evaluate your recovery program and support system. The evaluation also discusses the things that lead to stress in your environment, including relationships, work, and family.  Finally, it will give a conclusion with an opinion about your long term prognosis.  We can help you find a skilled evaluator.  
  • Reference letters to show you have been sober for at least a year. The reference letters must be notarized. You will need at least three reference letters. However, the more you have, the better you’ll fare at the hearing. Family, co-workers, friends, role models and leaders from support groups are good people to ask for letters. If you are attending AA meetings, a letter from the sponsor goes a long way in showing your commitment to continuing sobriety. The letters should include your relationship with the person, how long the person has known you, how often the person sees you and the last time that the person was aware that you drank or did drugs.
  • Evidence that you will probably remain sober. This could include counseling or AA meeting attendance. This might include an AA sponsor who can verify that you have been sober and what you did with the 12 steps. Counseling with a drug and alcohol counselor or a therapist will also suffice for those who prefer not to attend AA meetings. Also, for those who prefer to not do the 12-step AA program, self-management and recovery training (SMART) meetings are available. This is a non-12-step support group for recovery.

The steps to getting your license back take a lot of time, and may rightfully seem like too much to do alone. All of the documents must be in order or you will not be granted a hearing. It could mean a several-month delay.  You are only eligible to petition one time per year so you need to get it right.   A Michigan Drivers license restoration attorney can help you through the process of getting the required documentation, and will help you submit the documents and apply for the hearing. We can also be with you during the hearing and make sure all helpful evidence is presented properly. 

At the Hearing

Once you get to the hearing, you will have to show the hearing officer that you have your alcohol or drug problem under control, that the risk of repeating the previous abusive behavior is low, that you will not drink and drive again and that you have the ability to stay within the law while operating a motor vehicle.  To many people this may sound like all you need to do is show up and prove you have not been in any trouble.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The truth is the hearing officer is not allowed to give you a license EVER unless they believe you have been sober a minimum of one year and are likely to remain sober in the future.  If you admit that you might someday have a sip of champagne at your wedding you must be denied a license.  It doesn’t matter how long ago your DUI was the main issue is sobriety.  The good news is people who really are sober have an excellent chance to win these hearings with proper guidance and preparation.  

Once the hearing officer reviews your documents and hears your testimony regarding your current habits, you will get a decision in the mail. It does take up to six weeks to get the decision, so you do have to be patient for just a little longer. This is part of why it’s important to make sure everything is correctly done and submitted—because of the time it takes to go through the process. You definitely don’t want to have to repeat the process because you missed something.

When you do get your license back, you will have to have an interlock device installed in your vehicle unless you no longer live in Michigan.  People who have moved out of state proceed right to a full restoration upon success in the hearing because the State of Michigan cannot require an interlock on non residents.  Non residents skip a step and go right to full restoration.  So, if you live out of state this is a great time and opportunity to get your life back on track and get a fully restored license.  

Contact a Michigan DUI Lawyer

If your license is suspended or revoked, contact a Michigan criminal defense lawyer to help you through the process of restoring your driving privileges.


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