Consider Hiring an Experienced Driver's License Attorney
The Driver's License Appeal Division (DLAD) of MI Secretary of State can be a confusing and difficult bureaucracy. Put bluntly, there is a considerable amount of "red tape" that a person must navigate to have even a chance of success in restoring his/her license. If a person is unfamiliar with the rules and regulations of DLAD, he/she might miss a deadline, fail to submit requisite forms, or submit incorrect information. Lawyers who specialize in MI DLAD cases are somewhat rare, and themselves must keep abreast of the constant changing of the rules and regulations. A license restoration lawyer can help you navigate the process, submit proper documents, and prepare you for the hearing.
Obtain a Substance Abuse Evaluation (SAE) from a Reputable Therapist
The first, and perhaps most important, step of successful license restoration for habitual substance abuse offenders is to obtain a SAE from a qualified therapist. This SAE will document your history with alcohol/narcotics, your treatment/counseling, your background and your current abstinence tools. You can find a therapist by looking online, in the phone book, or through your current treatment providers. If you retain an attorney, he/she should have a referral network as well. During the SAE, you will likely submit to a drug screen, as well as a standardized test. How you fare in terms of prognosis will go a long way towards your success at the DLAD hearing, and without question, a reputable evaluator helps your case even more.
Submit Solid Letters of Support
Petitioners must obtain between 3-6 character letters which attest to your sobriety. These letters should come from a cross-section of the community (i.e., friends, family, colleagues, treatment providers, etc.) and must address your length of abstinence, tools used for sobriety, and treatment efforts. Also, they must be signed, dated and notarized. The letters must be thorough and well-written, as they often take the place of live testimony and should "stand on their own" to DLAD. In short, you should gather a maximum number of support letters to bolster your testimony and help your chances of getting back a license.
Become, Stay and Document Your Sobriety
You will have zero chance of success at restoring your license unless you are 100% abstinent from alcohol and all controlled substances. Michigan requires a minimum abstinence period of at least 6 months, and often 12 months if there are "aggravating factors" such as a relapse history, high blood alcohol levels, etc. You cannot have an occasional beer or wine. You must commit totally and completely to your sobriety, and have tools in place to keep you sober. You must document your sobriety with people, and document your treatment efforts. If you're involved in AA, get sign-in sheets. In short, you must be able to prove that you are sober and likely to remain so.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
The hearing at DLAD will be in front of an Administrative Judge, called a Hearing Officer, at a local Secretary of State Branch. These hearings are not easy. You will be placed under oath and questioned extensively by the Hearing Judge about your background, your current status and your sobriety. If you are not prepared, you will lose. A lawyer familiar and experienced in DLAD hearings will know exactly how these hearings, and should spend a lot of time preparing you for the hearing. How you dress, speak and address the hearing officer will affect the ultimate decision.
Scrutinize the Final Decision
If you prevail, you might only receive a restricted driver's license enabling you to drive for educational/employment purposes only, and may be ordered to install an ignition interlock (breath tube). You may be required to submit proof of specific treatment at your next hearing, so pay attention to the Order. If you lose, may have to wait an additional year to try again. There are various appeal avenues available, ranging from a motion for reconsideration to a Circuit Court Appeal which may overturn DLAD's decision.
Additional resources provided by the author
-Michigan Secretary of State Website (see link, below)
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