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2nd Offense License Consequences

The purpose of this section is to emphasize the importance of what happens to your driver’s license in a 2nd offense drunk driving case. Under Michigan law, if a you are convicted of a second alcohol-related offense within 7 years of any prior offense, their driver’s license will be revoked. This is not the same thing as merely having your license “suspended.” “Revoked” means taken away for good. This is just the beginning…

When your license is revoked, for a 2nd DUI, it is taken away for life. You must wait 1 full year before you can even begin the process of asking for it back, but the key thing here is that there is a formal process required to even ask for your license back, and it is called “license restoration.”

A simple high-school example works best here to explain the difference between having your license suspended as opposed to having it revoked:

If you are a student and you wind up being suspended from school, it will be for a certain number of days, as in “from Monday, February 1 through Friday, February 5.” Thus, on Monday, February 8, you are due to return to school. There is always a “from-to” date. The same is true if your driver’s license is suspended.

If your license is revoked, it’s like being expelled from school. Someone expelled from school is taken off the student register. He or she is no longer considered a student at all. In order to get back into school, someone who has been expelled must apply to be readmitted. When a driver’s license is revoked, it means the person does not have a license at all, and must go through a formal process to have a decision made whether to give it back or not.

Thus, a suspended student is still a student, just as a driver with a suspended license still has a license. A student who has been expelled is no longer a student, in the same way that a driver whose license has been revoked has no license whatsoever.

The most important point to understand as you face a 2nd offense DUI and the only way around this is to get into a sobriety court program. If an individual facing a 2nd offense DUI is not allowed into a sobriety court program (and there are multiple reasons why that may happen) then there is no way to avoid the license revocation. I have been asked this question 10,000 different ways and the answer is always the same: It does not matter how much you need a license, nor does the state care (“how do they expect me to support my family?”) what the fallout is from a license revocation. If you pick up 2 alcohol-related convictions within 7 years, your driver’s license will be revoked. You will not be able to file a license appeal for at least 1 year.

Now, for all of that, at the end of that year, lots of other rules govern the license appeal process. First and foremost, the whole point of a license appeal is to make sure a person has stopped drinking. This is a complex area of the law, and that complexity accounts for my having written well over 180 articles (and counting) on this very subject. Before you can begin to worry about the “million little rules” governing license appeals, however, you first have to be sober. Boiled down, the 2 main issues that need to be proven in a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal are:

  • That your alcohol problem is under control, and
  • That your alcohol problem is LIKELY to remain under control

The second of these issues is the more difficult to prove. It essentially means that you prove you are a safe bet to never drink again.

This, of course, can be a shock to some people facing a 2nd DUI. It is at precisely this point that people divide themselves into 2 very different camps: Those that accept that their drinking has become a problem, and those that don’t. I’m not here to tell anyone that they have a problem or not, but anyone facing a 2nd DUI needs to know that the court and the Secretary of State automatically presumes everyone that is, has a drinking problem. In fact, under Michigan law, if you pick up a second DUI within 7 years, you are considered a “habitual offender.” It is precisely that “habitual offender” status that results in the license revocation, with no exception possible. It is also this automatic designation as a “habitual offender” that requires the Judge to put you into counseling for your drinking.

This means that if a person wants to get through this, they’re going to have to understand and accept certain things. The Secretary of State puts anyone filing a license appeal through the wringer about having quit drinking for good before it will even consider giving them back a restricted license. Even then, the law requires that a person drive for at least the first year, after winning a license appeal, on a restricted license with an ignition interlock (a/k/a “blow unit”). Someone that refuses to at least pretend to acknowledge a drinking problem may make it through the DUI case unscathed, but they’ll never get their license back.

Because the license appeal process is about a year down the road, what a person does for their DUI case to address what the court (and later, the Secretary of State) sees as their alcohol problem will ultimately take center-stage in their license appeal. It comes down to this, really: In a 2nd offense case, the Judge is required, by Law, to order some kind of counseling. You can gripe about it all you want, but if you just sit there and complain, you’re going to be sent to whatever counseling program the court is using, kind of like the “program de jour.” If you are proactive, and find a decent program beforehand, not only can that be used as a bargaining chip in your DUI case and help the outcome of your DUI case, but it will serve to pay huge dividends down the road, when it’s time to gear up for a license appeal.

The value of having been proactive, and having started counseling early on really shows up later, in the license appeal case. It’s rather hard to sell the secretary of state that you took a 2nd DUI as a wake up call if you didn’t do anything about it except wait around to follow whatever the court orders. On the other hand, and as the old saying that “actions speak louder than words” holds, if you took the initiative and found your way into a good counseling program before the court shipped you off to one (and doing this, by the way, puts you in control of how often and where you go to Counseling, and how much it costs, whereas if you just accept what the court directs, the only thing you can do is line up and pay for it…), then you’re way ahead of the game.

This is actually simple stuff. If this doesn’t make any sense to you, then you’re probably not yet ready to stand back and look at the bigger picture quite yet. If you find yourself agreeing, at least generally, then you’re probably on the right track. This is where I can really help. My practice focuses on DUI and driver’s license restoration cases. As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, when I take a case I guarantee that I’ll win it. I know what I’m talking about.

Client Reviews
Five stars hands down!! Jeff and his legal team represented me in a seemingly impossible situation. I had many obstacles to overcome, in the end I walked out with with my driving privileges reinstated. Jeff and his team were very helpful Peter
Thank you for your knowledge and help in winning restoration of my driving privileges. I tried before on my own, lost (of course) and am glad I found your site. Katie
Just wanted to thank you for winning my license appeal. I was so happy when I got the letter in the mail that said I had won. I thank you so much for all your help and would be so happy to give your name to anyone who needs to get their license back. Mike
I wanted to thank you for taking my case. I would tell anybody trying to get their License back they need to talk to you. I should have done this a long time ago. Doug