For as complicated as Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals are, the main thing you must do is prove that you have given up drinking for good.
In this section, I want to explain what that means in the context of being able to win your license back from the Michigan Secretary of State
When a person has been convicted of multiple DUI’s and had his or her license revoked as a result, he or she is legally classified as a “habitual alcohol offender
.” A consequence of this is that any such person is presumed, by law, to have some kind of drinking problem.
Even if the person really isn’t a “big drinker,” his or her DUI record has established he or she has at least some kind of risky relationship to alcohol.
Consequently, the state won’t put any such person back on the road until that risk - the risk of ever driving drunk again - is eliminated, and that’s done by showing that alcohol has no place in his or her life whatsoever.
The essence of a license appeal is that a person must prove, by what the law defines as “clear and convincing evidence,” that he or she has given up drinking for good, and this, in turn, requires proving 2 separate things:
First, that they have not had a drink for a “sufficient” period of time (In our office, we generally won’t file a case unless a person has at least 18 months’ of sobriety), and,
Second, that he or she has both the ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free for life.
To be clear, not only is being sober is required to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal, but so is proving it.
That requires a lot more than just saying you’ve quit drinking.
The license appeal process is all about making sure that a person really has given up alcohol, and that he or she really is a safe bet to never drink again.
In a very real way, then, a person cannot win a license appeal if he or she so much as even thinks they can ever consume a drop of alcohol again.
The Secretary of State will never take a chance that somebody who has racked up multiple DUI’s can safely drink AND have a driver’s license.
We hear people argue about this all the time and say things like “I don’t drink like I used to,” or “I don’t really drink that much,” or that they "only drink on special occasions,” or “only at home,” or “only if someone else is driving.”
None of that will ever fly in a license appeal
The driver's license appeal rules effectively draw a line in the sand:
The only people who can win a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal are those who can prove they have quit drinking and have both the ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free for good.
The reason is simple: People who do not drink are exactly zero risk to drive drunk.
It’s not pretty, but this analogy makes the point clearly:
Imagine a local school district sends out a notice that it has hired “Charlie” as the new, after-hours custodian.
The notice discloses that although Charlie has 2 old convictions for criminal sexual conduct with minors, he hasn’t been in any trouble for a long time, and he is very adamant that he “is different now.”
No parent in the world would accept this.
In fact, under Michigan law, nobody with any kind of assaultive or sexual misconduct conviction can be employed in a school district, and people like Charlie generally can never even be within 1000 feet of a school for decades, if ever again.
When it comes to restoring someone’s license, the state will only take the safe bet - that a person is unlikely to ever drive drunk again precisely because he or she is unlikely to ever drink again.
Of course, it goes without saying that everybody needs a driver’s license.
The ugly truth, however, is that only a minority of people who have a drinking problem ever manage to quit drinking and stay sober for good.
The license appeal process is designed to make sure, as best it can, that only these people get back on the road.
Therefore, no matter how much a person may want or need a license, how long they’ve gone without one, how long they’ve managed to stay out of trouble, and for as much money as they’re willing to pay to get it back, the ONLY people who can win a license appeal are those who can prove that they have honestly quit drinking and are genuinely committed to lifetime sobriety.
In other words, sobriety is the main thing required to win a Michigan license restoration or clearance appeal.