Michigan Driver’s License Restoration


In 1999 Michigan’s drunk driving laws were amended such that if you are convicted of multiple drunk driving offenses you may be subject to a lifetime revocation of your driver’s license. 

But not all repeat offenders will have their licenses revoked.  Revocations are based on the number of drunk driving offenses within a give time period.

In most circumstances, after your license has been revoked, you may request restoration of your driving privilege through the Michigan Secretary of State’s DAAD, which is an acronym for the “Driver Assessment and Appeal Division.”  The look-back periods for such revocations are as follows:

  •  If you have two drunk driving convictions within seven years then your license is revoked for life but you may request a DAAD license restoration hearing after one year;
  • If you have three drunk driving convictions within ten years then your license is revoked for life but you may request a DAAD license restoration hearing after either one year or five years.
  • If your driving record includes a prior revocation within the prior 7 years, then you are subject to a hard five year revocation, meaning you must wait five years before requesting your DAAD license restoration hearing.

Your lawyer will be able to review your driving record and thereby determine when you are next eligible to make this request for hearing.

At the end of this article you will also find a series of helpful links to Michigan driver license restoration forms that you can download and use.

How to Request a Hearing:

In order to actually obtain a hearing you are required to file your request with the Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD).  It is VERY important to win your hearing because if you lose, you will not be able to request another hearing until after another year has passed.

The necessary documents and things needed to request the hearing are described below.  Again, make sure these documents are perfect BEFORE you request your hearing.  Your lawyer can review these documents to make sure they are sufficient and do not contain any incorrect or unhelpful information. 

Details count!  The hearing officer at the DAAD will be looking for a reason to deny you so make sure he or she does not have one.  The only way to do this is proper preparation.

I have often heard clients tell me that there is no use hiring a lawyer for the first attempt at restoration, and in my opinion exactly the opposite is true.

The most important hearing you will have will be the first one you request, and you should spend the money to hire the best lawyer you can afford to help you with this lawyer.

At the Barone Defense Firm we have been handling driver license restoration cases for nearly two decades, and when you call us we will be able to explain how we can help you and how having a lawyer will help you win your license back.

It’s far too easy to lose one of these hearings, and if you lose your first one, then you’ve started to dig an even deeper hole for yourself. This is because the Department will be reviewing all prior hearing records to determine why you were denied the last time around.

Remember, not only does everything you present need to be consistent, it also needs to be consistent with the information previously submitted!

What do you Need to Request a Hearing?

The first thing you will need is a current substance abuse evaluation, prepared by qualified professional that is complete and accurate. The substance abuse evaluation must have attached to it a copy of the written “testing instrument” and must also include a copy of your answers to this written test.

The testing instrument is the written test used by your therapist to help him or her determine if you have an alcohol or drug problem, and to arrive at a proper diagnosis of any problem that exists.

Common test instruments are the MAST test, the SASSI test, Addiction Severity Index, among others.  Your therapist will select the appropriate instrument for your substance abuse evaluation.

You must also have a ten panel urinalysis to test for the different drug categories, specifically including the categories that encompass the drugs of abuse.  The hearing officer will want to know if some other drug has taken the place of alcohol in your life.

Here is the definition of a substance abuse evaluation:

(p) “Substance abuse evaluation” means a written report regarding the petitioner on a form prescribed by the department that includes a statement of the testing instruments used and the test results, if any exist, a complete treatment and support group history, diagnoses, prognoses, and relapse histories, including those relapse histories that predate the beginning of the most recent treatment program.

Your request for hearing, along with the substance abuse evaluation, is all that is needed to simply obtain a hearing date. At the hearing you will need also to present what are called “community proofs” including testimonial letters to verify abstinence from alcohol, “non-alcoholic beer” and/or illegal drugs.

These testimonial letters must all now be notarized, and should discuss your history and/or habits relative to drug and/or alcohol use, past and present. They must include very detailed and specific information regarding drinking habits in social settings, at home and if applicable, at work . Here is what the actual rule says:

(d) The hearing officer may require that the petitioner present evidence from not less than 3 independent sources to corroborate the petitioner’s behavior with respect to alcohol and controlled substances.

More generally, in order to meet your burden of proof at the hearing, you will need to provide evidence of your sobriety, and the rule indicates:

(g) The petitioner may submit any or all of the following:

(i) Letters from other persons that document his or her behavior regarding alcohol and controlled substances.

(ii) Proof of his or her past and current involvement with a treatment program or programs.

(iii) Proof of his or her past and current structured support program.

(iv) Other relevant evidence.

With the help of an experienced driver license restoration and/or DUI/OWI lawyer you should be able to obtain the restoration of your  driver’s license. Of course, this assumes that you are able to meet your burden of proof.

Burden of Proof:

Again, it is always helpful to simply look at the rules that apply to these hearings. The actual rule is reproduced below. When you are thinking about your driver license restoration hearing that occurs after you’ve lost your license for multiple drunk driving, OWI, DUI, DWI or OWVI convictions, you must understand that you have the burden or proof.

What’s more, the state starts out with the assumption that you are not going to obtain a driver license. In other words, it’s just the opposite of a criminal case like drunk driving where you are protected by the presumption of innocence and you cannot be convicted of drunk driving (OWI, OWVI, DUI, DWI) unless and until the state meets it’s burden of proof.

The actual burden of proof is “clear and convincing evidence” which basically means the hearing officer must be left with a definite and firm conviction that your substance abuse problem is under control and likely to remain under control and that you are at low or minimal risk for repeat behavior.

Because the burden of proof is so high, and because the hearing officer is supposed to start out with the assumption that you are not going to obtain a license, he or she will be looking for any reason to deny your application.

Here is what the actual rule states:

(a) The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following:

(i) That the petitioner’s alcohol or substance abuse problems, if any, are under control and likely to remain under control.

(ii) That the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk.

(iii) That the risk of the petitioner repeating the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by, or under the influence of, alcohol or controlled substances or a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance or repeating any other offense listed in section 303(1)(d), (e), or (f) or (2)(c), (d), (e), or (f) of the act is a low or minimal risk.

(iv) That the petitioner has the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.

(v) Other showings that are relevant to the issues identified in paragraphs (i) to (iv) of this subdivision.

Requirement for Complete Abstinence from Alcohol and Drugs:

This is an absolute requirement, and it is COMPLETE abstinence. In other words, telling the hearing officer that you had a Champagne toast last New Years Eve will surely result in your losing your hearing, and then having to wait another year to request another one.

We always recommend that you be able to testify under oath that you’ve had no alcohol or drugs of any kind for at least 12 months before you request your hearing. Again, here is what the rule states:

b) Before ordering that a license be issued to the petitioner, the hearing officer shall require that the petitioner prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that he or she has completely abstained from the use of alcohol and controlled substances, except for controlled substances prescribed by a licensed health care professional, for a period of not less than 6 consecutive months or has abstained for a period of not less than 12 consecutive months if the evidence considered at the hearing establishes that a longer period of abstinence is necessary.

If you can’t show 12 months of absolute sobriety, then we recommend that you wait before contacting us.

How the Barone Defense Firm Can Help You Regain Your Driver’s License:

Now that you have an idea of what you’re up against you probably have a better idea of what a lawyer can do to help you. We have successfully handled driver license restoration cases for many years, and have an excellent idea of what the hearing officers look for when reviewing the proofs presented at and before the hearing. We know why they’ve denied in the past.

We can use this information to your benefit because we can review all of your documentation BEFORE it is submitted for the hearing. If we think that it is deficient, we will ask you to make corrections.

The bottom line is this: an honest case properly prepared and presented will always result in a positive result. If we think you’re not ready, we’ll tell you, and we’ll help you understand what you need to do to get ready. We have a very high success rate and this is only because we prepare our cases so thoroughly before we ever present them.

Helpful Links:

  • How to Prepare for an Administrative Review or License Appeal Hearing (includes substance abuse evaluation form).
  • Obtaining a Copy of Your Driving Record
  • Losing your Privilege to Drive
  • Driver License Appeals Practice Manual
  • What Every Driver Must Know

Get a FREE confidential CASE EVALUATION on your Michigan OWI/OWVI/DUI by calling (248) 306-9159 , or filling out this consultation request form. Call now, there’s no obligation!