You must first be eligible before you can begin the process of restoring your Michigan driver’s license or obtaining the clearance of a Michigan “hold” on your driving record that prevents you from getting a license in another state.
“Eligible,” in the sense we’re going to use it here, means legally able to file a restoration or clearance appeal. As we’ll see in other sections, there is more to winning a license appeal than just being eligible to file it, but our sole focus here will be on the time element.
Although the rules regarding legal eligibility to file a license appeal are rather clear, the complex situations in which people often find themselves can make it difficult to figure things out.
Michigan law provides 2 license penalties for multiple DUI convictions:
1. For 2 DUI convictions within 7 years, a person’s driver’s license will be revoked by the Secretary of State (SOS) for a minimum of 1 year.
2. For 3 DUI convictions within a 10-year period, the Secretary of State is required to revoke the person’s license for a minimum of 5 years.
The first thing to understand is that there is absolutely no way to shorten either of those time periods. As license revocations go, a person is either eligible to file, or not.
Moreover, there is no way to go to court for any kind of relief, nor is there any way to obtain any kind of restricted license in the meantime, no matter how much a person may need
Only after the minimum periods of revocation has run will a person be legally eligible to file a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal.
All of this is the easy part…
In the real world, most “eligibility” problems occur because a person has either been caught operating a vehicle, or the Michigan Secretary of State was otherwise officially notified that he or she had been driving while his or her license was still revoked (we’ll get to that shortly).
To be clear, even though the state revokes a license for a “minimum” of either 1 or 5 years, unless a person has filed and won a formal driver’s license restoration appeal with the Michigan Secretary of State's Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight (OHAO), he or she remains revoked.
Put another way, once your driver's license has been revoked, it will remain in “revoked” status until you actually win a license appeal case, no matter how long you may have otherwise been eligible to file it.
Thus, if the Michigan Secretary of State receives notice from a court that a person with a revoked license has been convicted of any
moving violation, he or she will receive what is called a “mandatory additional
” revocation, meaning that another identical period of revocation (either 1 or 5 years) will be imposed for driving while his or her license was still revoked.
A “mandatory additional” is a legally required administrative penalty imposed by the Michigan Secretary of State. It has nothing to do with and is completely separate from any license penalty that can be imposed by a court.
In that sense, a mandatory additional is more or less a “gotcha” provision.
The reach of these penalties extends way beyond cases where a person is ticketed for driving on a revoked license or other moving violation.
In fact, if the Secretary of State merely finds out that someone has been driving after being revoked, it is legally required to sanction him or her by imposing a “like” mandatory addition revocation of either 1 or 5 years, identical to the person’s last period of revocation.
This mandatory additional must be imposed regardless of any other potential license penalty that can be imposed by a Judge for an infraction or offense, and, as we just noted, it must be imposed even if a person is NOT convicted of (or isn’t even cited for) any kind of moving violation.
Let me try to clarify this by using a real life example drawn from a case we has (and no, our client’s name was not
Assume that Bad Luck Brenda had her license revoked after her 2nd DUI back in 2017. Legally, she would have been eligible to file a restoration appeal in 2018.
Life being what it is, Brenda hadn’t gotten around to doing anything about that.
Then, one morning, in January of 2021, as she was driving to work and stopped at a red light, Brenda was rear-ended, and the police were called.
The responding police officer noted that the other driver was entirely at fault and ticketed him, but also discovered that Brenda’s license has been revoked since 2017.
Feeling sorry for her, he gave her the break of a lifetime and neither arrested her for Driving While License Revoked (DWLR) nor cited her for anything else.
Instead, he told her to promptly file a license appeal, and Brenda promised to do that, fully intending to follow through so she could finally get back on the road, legally.
What neither Brenda nor the police officer realize, however, is that once the accident report from that incident is received in Lansing - and despite the fact that she was not cited for any kind of driving infraction - the Secretary of State will discover that she was operating a vehicle while her license was in revoked status, and must impose the legally required mandatory additional “like” period of revocation.
For Brenda, this meant that even though she had been eligible to file a license appeal, she is going to be revoked for another year once the Secretary of State processed the accident report.
This requirement to impose a mandatory additional revocation applies to any kind of moving violation, including those that carry no points or anything more than a potential fine.
This hypothetical illustration may help:
Imagine that a guy whose license has been revoked status gets pulled over on the freeway for speeding by a very nice police officer who gives him a break and doesn’t arrest or otherwise cite him for driving while revoked.
Instead, the officer issues him a citation for “limited access speed,” an infraction that only carries a fine and not any points or potential license penalties that could be imposed by a court.
If the guy pays the ticket and it goes on his driving record, and even though the infraction didn’t carry any points, he will still get stuck with a mandatory additional revocation of either 1 or 5 years, depending on the length of his original revocation.
However, if his lawyer can negotiate a deal on the ticket to something that doesn't get reported (abstracted) to the Secretary of State, then no action will be taken regarding his license status.
In the real world, a single violation is one thing, but often enough, my team and I deal with people who have had multiple mandatory additional revocations because they keep getting caught driving while their license is revoked.
And for all the problems people cause themselves, the Secretary of State isn’t perfect, either. It has been known to make mistakes on driving records and it is a MAJOR pain when we have to correct these errors.
Worse yet, my team and I have had to rectify plenty of mistakes made by courts that have wrongfully made people ineligible to file. These mistakes, when abstracted to a person’s driving record, can cause all kinds of problems.
And if all of that is not bad enough, the law allows certain mistakes made by courts in reporting DUI convictions to stand, so that they cannot be fixed, really holding up a person’s eligibility to file a license appeal!
Yes - you read that right. If a court fails to report a person’s DUI conviction and thereby delays the imposition of his or her license revocation, there is no sure legal remedy for him or her to correct that error other than just waiting it out!
To date, my team and I have been able to reopen most of these cases and fix things, but the larger point is that the law falls short and provides no guaranteed mechanism to do that, even though the person harmed by the mistake is entirely without fault.
Now, for as complicated as this all can be, the simplest way to figure things out your situation is to have our office review your driving record.
As Michigan driver's license restoration lawyers, my team and I have always been willing to look over anyone’s record, and we have and will always do so without charge.
If you are wondering if you can begin the driver’s license restoration process (and you’ve quit drinking), we’d be happy to help determine if and when you will be legally eligible to file a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal so that we can get you back on the road.