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You must be off Probation to win back your Michigan Driver’s License

Home Blog Driver's License Restoration You must be off Probation to win back your Michigan Driver’s License

There are 2 key issues in a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal. First, you have to prove that your alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that you have been abstinent from alcohol for a specific period of time. Second (and, in the larger picture, more important), you have to prove that your alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that you’re a safe bet to never drink again. Since “under control” translates to “sober,” there has to be a date since you’ve last drank. When you’re on probation or parole, you are, in all cases, required to refrain from drinking alcohol, and, in many, if not most cases, tested to make sure you don’t. The Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Section, or AHS (until recently known as the DAAD, and, not that long ago, the DLAD) takes the position that you cannot prove your abstinence is “voluntary” if you are under probation or parole order not to drink. This is called “living in a controlled environment” because you are under threat of punishment (i.e., getting locked up) if you’re caught drinking.

In the context of trying to win back your driver’s license, the clock really starts running once your probation or parole ends. Everyone, of course, wants to know exactly how soon he or she can file a license appeal. There is no clear answer here. Instead, we come to the dreaded lawyer response; “It depends.” I have taken and won cases for someone who has only very recently been released from probation, and I’ve had cases where I have wanted to wait more than 6 months after my client has been released from probation or parole before filing, so that by the time my client and I are in front of the hearing officer, he or she will have nearly a year of demonstrably voluntary abstinence to show.

When someone calls my office, we not only answer his or her questions, we ask a lot of our own, as well. My paralegal and my senior assistant have worked on more license restoration cases than a whole boatload of lawyers, so they know what to look for as we screen a person. And given that I’m on the line because I guarantee a win in every case I take, we’ll never just give someone the go-ahead to file who isn’t really ready. If we find a person needs a little more time, we’ll tell him or her how long we feel he or she should wait.

Of all the questions about this subject, the most forceful come from those people who have, despite being on probation, really put in all of their hearts to get and stay sober. In many cases, a person’s life has changed so dramatically since that last DUI that being on probation has nothing to do with him or her not drinking. This is where the “it depends” comes into play, and where we’ll have a lot of questions. Most folks don’t want to wait any longer than they have to in order to get back on the road (although some people do wait years and years), and if I’m going to be the lawyer, I don’t get paid until we get started, so I have no incentive to wait longer than necessary either. However, as I noted, my services come with a guarantee, so I have the counterbalancing consideration of not wanting to begin to early, lest I find myself having to do a “warranty” appeal a year later because we fired too soon. In truth, my guarantee means I try and strike for the perfect balance between beginning the license restoration process as soon as possible without waiting too long.

Yet for all of this, the answer to “when” still comes down to “it depends,” and that line moves from case to case. In general, a person with 7 DUI’s will definitely need to demonstrate more voluntary abstinence time than someone with just 2 or 3, but we could speculate about countless situations that could prove to be exceptions even to this. As it stands, however, you must be off of probation or parole to begin the license appeal process, and you’ll want a certain, if undefined, quantity of voluntary abstinence time to your credit before you find yourself sitting in a license appeal hearing.