If you’re thinking about going through the process of restoring your driver’s license for multiple DUI* (drug or alcohol), the very first thing that is required; proving that you have quit drinking for good. This proof requires more than just saying “I have quit drinking.” It cannot be stressed enough; the first and main requirement to restore your driving privileges is that you no longer drink alcohol. By no longer drinking means you are completely sober and able to prove it to the Hearing Officer. This is the first very basic rule: your license will NOT be restored if you still drink or even if you think you can still drink at any point in the future.
It is not uncommon to hear from people they “deserve” to be able to drink because they haven’t had a license or been in trouble for a long time. This is the kind of thinking that will keep you from having your driving privileges restored. It is the Michigan Secretary of States (SOS) duty, through its Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), to make sure the only people who are allowed to drive again are people who have quit drinking for good. The SOS, has a duty to protect the public by making sure that some risky drinker doesn’t get his or her license back, drive drunk again, and then kill someone. That is why I often tell clients the Hearing Officer is looking for ways to make sure you do not have your license restored. The absolute easiest way for a Hearing Officer to deny you driving privileges is for you to believe you can still drink even if you do not plan to drive!
From the SOS’s point of view, once a person has his or her license revoked for having multiple DUIs, this person is considered too risky to be allowed to drive again until he or she quits drinking for good. The SOS will NEVER give a license back to someone with multiple DUI convictions who still drinks alcohol, or even thinks they can. The bottom line, a person with multiple DUIs has proven when they drink they make decisions that can kill or ruin someone else for life. It is considered too much of a risk to restore driving privileges to a person like this. The SOS interests for the safety of the public outweigh denying someone the privilege of driving who, by law, has been labeled a “habitual alcohol offender.” On the other hand, the SOS realizes a person who never drinks alcohol poses absolutely no risk of drinking and driving. THAT is what must be proven to the Hearing Officer.
It comes down to this: you have been revoked for multiple DUIs; you must prove you have quit drinking totally and for good! I again refer to those who think they “deserve” to be able to drink a little alcohol now and again AND have their driver’s license restored. When someone says things like “Drinking is legal, and I’m an adult, so this isn’t fair,” or “the state is trying to take away my rights,” they are obviously missing the point. Drinking, of course, is legal, but the state isn’t making you stop; you have every right to drink. Driving, however, is a privilege. It only takes a few pages into the Michigan Secretary of State’s 148-page “What Every Driver Must Know” booklet for this motto of all drivers’ education teachers to rear its head. “Please remember that driving is a privilege and not a right,” says the booklet that virtually every driver has thumbed through while waiting in line for a renewal. It is repeated so often, it almost becomes a statement of faith. So you have a choice: do you want to drink and not drive or would you rather have the privilege of driving and give up drinking to do so? Only you can decide which has the priority. If you still think it is unfair of the SOS to deny you the privilege of driving because you want to have a few drinks then it is obvious your priority is drinking and you will NEVER get your driver’s license back. Unfair? No, the SOS is tasked with keeping our roads safe for ALL residents and someone who puts a higher priority on drinking than driving is not someone Michigan residents want on the road.
After one DUI, it would seem the person would be so shaken by the experience (and cost) they would take the necessary steps to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. In fact, that’s exactly what the court expects and after the first one still gives you a chance to “fix” this problem. If it happens a second time, the state and the courts agree that something more drastic needs to be done. It makes perfect sense why the state revokes your driver’s license after the 2nd DUI and refuses to allow you the privilege of driving until you prove you have quit drinking. After a 3rd or 4th DUI it becomes clear why it becomes harder yet to prove you have quit drinking. Unfortunately, the person with the drinking problem is usually the last one to figure out they have a problem. Instead, they usually keep doing the same thing over and over again, all for alcohol.
Imagine now, after 2 DUIs, you tell the Hearing Officer you quit drinking and driving but you still have the occasional beer at home but you learned your lesson to never drink and drive again. You have already shown that one DUI did not get your attention. It took a second DUI and the loss of your license to supposedly “get your attention. You expect the Hearing Officer to believe after all the crap you have gone through because of alcohol that you can still drink but will not drive? ALL Hearing Officers believe you cannot handle the privilege of driving if you still believe you can drink “occasionally.”
Look at it this way. If you have had two bankruptcies in the last six years would you expect a bank to give you a loan on a new house? Wouldn’t you expect the bank require proof that you have learned to handle your finances before giving you a loan? It is not any different for the SOS to expect proof that you have quit doing the thing that resulted in you losing your privilege to drive.
If you want to drive again you have to quit complaining about it not being “fair.” The only way you are going to regain the privilege of driving is by FIRST proving that you have quit drinking COMPLETELY! Prove you have quit drinking, or you can forget about driving. It does not matter how much you need a license or deserve a license or how long you have been without a license or how hard it is on friends and family to drive you around.
I would love to help you prove to the SOS that you have quit drinking. If you are still drinking I would be happy to talk with you and put you in touch with people that can help you quit so you can begin the process of getting your license back. Call our office at 616-377-7012 and ask for me, Mike DeYoung.
* Both DUI and OWI are acronym’s for drunk driving. DUI means Driving Under the Influence whereas OWI means Operating While Intoxicated. In Michigan the proper legal acronym is OWI, but DUI is still used as a more general reference to drunk driving, mostly because it is such a well-known acronym.