A client driving after successful driver's license restoration case. Tips to get your driver's license back

Four Tips to Get Your Driver’s License Back In Michigan

In this blog, I explore four tips to get your driver’s license back.  Understanding these topics will increase the likelihood of restoring driving privileges after two or more drunk driving convictions in Michigan.  

Witness Sobriety Letters and the Driver’s License Restoration Case 

Some people just want their driver’s license back, and they will lie to get their license back.  The SOS 257/258 application requirement for 3-6 witness sobriety letters makes the driver’s license restoration process nearly impossible to fake.   

Every restoration case requires a drug and alcohol assessment, a ten-panel drug screen, and 3 to 6 letters from people stating the petitioner is sober.  The letters are a substitute for witness testimony at the hearing.  The letters must qualify the witness as a person who knows the petitioner and establish the witness who has personal knowledge of the petitioner’s past drug and alcohol habits.  For more information on creating successful letters read my blog “Letters for a Driver’s Restoration Case” here

All witness sobriety letters must be notarized.  This means the witness has to sign their name to the letter before a notary public.   The petitioner who tries to fake their sobriety normally runs into problems finding people who will swear that the petitioner is sober.  The typical person trying to fake a restoration case is a person who still drinks alcohol, not anything like they did in the past, but still drinks socially.  When it comes time to find people for letters, the petitioner has to ask their friends and family to lie for them and say that the petitioner hasn’t consumed alcohol in front of them. Not an easy thing to ask from a friend. The first tip to get your driver’s license back, don’t try to fake it.     

The Role of the BAIID Interlock Device

It is rare for someone to obtain a full driver’s license right away, but not impossible.  The Secretary of State and the AHS Hearing Officers prefer to ease a habitual drunk driver into a full license.  So instead of providing a full unconditional driver’s license, many people must first drive a year with a BAIID Interlock Device installed in their car.  Driving with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) is no picnic.  The driver has to blow clean into the BAIID Interlock Device to start the car.  Also, drivers have to submit to rolling re-tests.  These tests are random and occur while the car is on the road.  Finally, the car must never lose power or the driver will face a sanction, which can result in a reinstatement of the revocation and loss of driving privileges again.  Driving with a BAIID Interlock Device installed means the driver has to be very careful and proactive at any sign of trouble.  A BAIID driver should immediately take an EtG urine alcohol test at any sign of trouble.  If there is a mechanical problem with their car, the driver must provide documentation.  I drill into my clients that there must be absolutely no eating before or during driving.  Many foods can cause a false positive for alcohol.  Check out this awesome video demonstrating some foods that create false positives here.  Managing client expectations is important for lawyers.  Every driver’s license restoration client needs to know that more and more people end up driving with a BAIID Interlock Device for the first year.  The second of my tips to get your license back, expect a year of driving with a BAIID interlock device on your car.    

The Marijuana Problem within a Driver’s License Restoration Case  

Michigan legalized marijuana and finally refocused law enforcement efforts on the illegal drugs that devastate lives.  However, marijuana is still problematic for anyone seeking to restore their driving privileges.  The truth is that every petitioner seeking their driving privileges must establish by clear and convincing evidence that they are free of addiction, that is, all addictions related to drugs and alcohol.  Most habitual drunk drivers must demonstrate they have abstained from all intoxicating drugs and alcohol for over one year.  The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act and the legalization of recreational marijuana have created confusion.  Many people believe that alcohol consumption causes their problems, not the consumption of marijuana.  They believe that the consumption of marijuana is different than the consumption of alcohol.  However, in the driver’s restoration world, marijuana and alcohol are treated the same.  Abstinence includes no alcohol and no marijuana, or any other drug that may impair driving.  A couple of times a year, I talk to a prospective client who tells me they consumed marijuana within the last year. Naturally, they become upset when I tell them they are not ready to seek their driver’s license.  If there is a marijuana conviction in the petitioner’s criminal history, all letters and the drug and alcohol assessment must address marijuana abstinence in addition to alcohol abstinence.  As cannabis products become mainstream in everyday life, more and more people will experience this marijuana problem when it comes time to get their driver’s license back.  The third of my tips to get your driver’s license back is abstinence means no alcohol or marijuana.        

AA and the Sign-In Sheets 

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has been around for decades.  The program has turned many lives around.  A critical component in every driver’s license restoration case is establishing a support network that aids the petitioner’s sobriety or recovery.  AA is a perfect match.  However, there are a couple of problems with AA that I have come across.  People new to the program are told that they don’t have to participate, work the 12-steps, or obtain a sponsor.  This seems fine for people new to the program.  However, I have met people who have attended AA for years without obtaining a sponsor or working the 12-steps.  In the driver’s restoration world, a petitioner who has been attending AA for over a year without gaining a sponsor or working the steps is cutting their own throat.  These attend but do nothing people have difficulty establishing the critical support element for a restoration case.   

Most people on probation for drunk driving must provide signed AA attendance sheets to their probation officer.  Many people once they complete probation stop obtaining their signatures as proof of attendance. Again, the evidence standard for getting your license back is “clear and convincing” evidence.  A couple of hundred signatures from an AA meeting is clear and convincing evidence of AA participation.  For a habitual drunk driver, until their driving privileges are fully restored, they should never stop obtaining signatures as proof of attendance at AA.  The clear and convincing evidence standard is difficult to prove.  The fourth of my tips to get your driver’s license back, maximize AA by working the steps, obtaining a sponsor, and collecting attendance signatures.  

About the author:

Matthew Benedict is a driver’s license restoration attorney serving clients in all of Northern Michigan.  Call today for an appointment, 231-883-4170.  Please visit my driver’s license restoration blog here

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