Getting Your Driver’s License Back
One of the most exciting times in a person’s life can be when he or she first gets a driver’s license. When we’re teenagers, a driver’s license can be our first taste of freedom. As we become adults, a driver’s license can be a lifeline and the key to a good job, to living where we want, to getting a college degree, or to successfully juggling the responsibilities of marriage and family. We use our cars to get to work, to get to class, to get to the grocery store, to get to doctor’s appointments, to get to our child’s soccer practices or dance recitals.
The loss of a driver’s license can be one of the most devastating consequences of a conviction for driving under the influence. The suspension or revocation of your driver’s license is mandatory in Michigan when you’re convicted of DUI, more commonly known in Michigan law as OWI. It’s also mandatory if you refuse to take a blood or breath test when you’re suspected of DUI. If you lose your license, you may lose your job, and it may become difficult to manage everyday activities.
However, you may have options for fighting the charge or for getting restricted driving privileges while you’re under suspension. A Michigan OWI attorney can walk you through your legal options.
OWI and Your Driver’s License
There are a number of ways that a suspected OWI offense or conviction can affect your driver’s license in Michigan. Those may include:
- Refusing a Breath or Blood Test — When you are suspected of OWI and an officer asks to take a breath or blood sample to determine your blood alcohol concentration, a doctrine called implied consent means that you have to comply or risk sanctions. If you refuse to give a breath or blood sample, your license is automatically suspended. You can appeal the suspension, but must do so within 14 days. A suspension for refusing to take a breath or blood test can last up to 1 year the first time you refuse, and up to 2 years if you refuse more than once in 7 years. You cannot get a restricted license when you’re suspended for refusing a breath or blood test.
- First OWI conviction — For a first conviction for OWI, OWVI, or drugged driving, Michigan requires at least a 6-month driver’s license suspension. You have to serve at least 30 days of the suspension before you can ask for a restricted license.
- High BAC or “Super Drunk OWI” Conviction — When your OWI conviction involves your having a BAC of .17 or more, Michigan requires at least a 1-year driver’s license suspension. You have to serve at least 45 days of the suspension before you can ask for a restricted license.
- Two or More Convictions in 7 Years — If you get two or more OWI, OWVI, or drugged driving convictions in 7 years, or three in 10 years, is deemed a habitual alcohol violator and is subject to having your driver’s license revoked for at least 1 year, or at least 5 years when you get an additional revocation within 7 years.
Getting a Restricted License
Under some circumstances, when your Michigan driver’s license is suspended because of an OWI conviction, you may be able to get a restricted license with the help from a Michigan OWI attorney. A restricted driver’s license allows you limited driving privileges to drive to places that may include:
- Your workplace, or in the course of your job
- To school
- To probation
- To court
- To alcohol or substance abuse treatment
- To regular medical appointments for a serious condition, or to drive a family member to medical appointments for a serious condition
When you’re driving with a restricted license, you have to carry with you proof of:
- Your destination
- Your work hours
- Classes in which you’re enrolled
- Any other valid reason that you’re driving
If you’re caught driving for a reason that isn’t allowed under your restricted driver’s license, you may be charged with driving under a suspended license and face criminal penalties and an extension of the duration of your suspension.
The Secretary of State’s Office may issue a restricted license to drivers who are eligible under Michigan law, but this isn’t an automatic process. You have to apply for a restricted license and demonstrate your eligibility, and depending on the circumstances of your offense, you may have to serve at least part of your suspension before you can get a restricted license. You’ll also have to meet conditions that may include getting an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle you drive.
If you have questions about whether you might be eligible for a restricted driver’s license, an experienced Michigan OWI attorney can review your case and explain your options.
Reinstating Your License After Suspension
Once your suspension expires, you can typically get your driver’s license back once you pay a reinstatement fee and have met any other conditions of your suspension.
Getting a Revoked License Reinstated
A revocation is more serious than a suspension. When your driver’s license is revoked, that can be permanent. However, under some circumstances and depending on the nature of your OWI conviction, you may have the option to request a hearing to get your driver’s license restored after it’s revoked, and after a waiting period required by Michigan law.
It isn’t guaranteed that you’ll get your driver’s license back after it’s been revoked. You have to prove that your license should be reinstated. Your best shot at a successful restoration is with the help of an experienced Michigan OWI attorney who can advocate on your behalf to get your driving privileges restored.
A good Detroit DUI attorney can explain what your options are after having your driver’s license revoked, whether you might be eligible for reinstatement, and what to expect from that process.