Losing a driver’s license can be debilitating, especially in Michigan where driving is a necessity for functioning in everyday life. Those who lose their license can feel trapped since they must rely on others for transportation to and from work, shopping, etc. Regaining a driver’s license immediately becomes a top priority for individuals once they have lost it, as they seek to regain their independence and freedom.
Luckily the State of Michigan offers a legal process for those who have lost their license to regain it, depending on the circumstances surrounding why it was taken away in the first place. There is an involved license restoration process which involves a considerable amount of work to have a chance of success, which is not guaranteed, especially for individuals who lost their license due to drugs or alcohol.
License Restoration Process
For those who are looking to start the process of restoring their legal right to drive, the first step is to have an administrative hearing with the Michigan Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD). Formally known as the Department of State Drivers License and Appeal Division (DLAD), filing through this department can possibly result in having a license reinstated, although there are no guarantees.
If the reinstatement is denied, then an appeal may be filed to challenge DAADs determination to the circuit court and request a hearing with a circuit court judge as well as a representative of the Secretary of State (from the Michigan Attorney General’s Office). Any request for license appeals must also be submitted in writing to the State of Michigan, requiring several additional documents in order to be successfully processed.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the driving offense that resulted in the suspension or revocation of an individual’s license, there is a good chance that the court will order an individual to take part in a substance abuse or safe driving course as part of their appeal. Even if the court does not explicitly require it, it is always worth the investment to voluntarily take part in all applicable courses before filing in order to ensure the best chance of success.
It is important to be aware that not all DAAD decisions can be appealed to the circuit court. It is therefore important for those who are not familiar with Michigan’s laws surrounding drivers license restoration to consult with a legal expert before investing a considerable amount of time in filing to restore their license. It can also save them a considerable amount of preparation costs, such as course fees and possible fees for documentation.
Courses for License Reinstatement
As mentioned above, there are different rehabilitation courses in which an individual can partake to help them get their license reinstated. Sometimes, these courses are mandated by a court as a requirement for the reinstatement process, especially for suspensions that are a result of repeat offenses. Other times, these courses are voluntarily participated in as part of the preparation for submitting an appeal to the circuit court.
One of the primary courses that individuals enroll in as part of their license reinstatement are Highway Safety Programs. Because most licenses are suspended or revoked due to drunk and drugged driving offenses, these courses are typically the most relevant. They teach individuals how to recognize the thought patterns that lead to criminal activity such as driving under the influence, and how to develop strategies to change their future behavior. There is a crossover with Substance Abuse Programs, which are more specifically focused on controlling the alcohol and drug addictions.
Another course type that is commonly participated in are Driving Programs, which are usually enrolled in by individuals who have lost their license due to reckless driving, road rage, or simply accumulating too many points on their record. Again, like other courses these can be mandated by the court system or voluntarily taken prior to filing for an administrative hearing or submitting an appeal to DAAD. These courses typically come in various levels for differing levels of severity of offenses, although for license suspensions and revocations normally the highest level class is required.
Upcoming Changes in Michigan
There are some changings coming up for those who have lost their license due to errors they made during the court or procedural process after they initially received their driving infractions. As part of Michigan’s criminal justice reform package signed into law in January of 2021, those who have had their licenses suspended for failure to pay fines or failure to appear in court can now have them reinstated. It should be noted that this does not apply to those who have had their license revoked directly as a result of driving infractions.
The purpose behind this is to eliminate unnecessarily punitive punishments for those who simply failed to follow the correct procedures after they were initially cited for their traffic violations. Recognizing how much of a negative impact this can have on an individual’s ability to function in everyday life, the rolling back of these license suspensions would result in a large number of individuals having their licenses reinstated.
Some will be able to utilize their existing licenses they may still have in their possession and others will be issued new licenses. The Michigan Department of State will be mailing out letters to those who are eligible to have their license reinstated under this new law. The letter will specifically list out any violations and suspensions that will be lifted from that individual’s record as well as explain any additional steps that may be required to complete the reinstatement.
It should be noted that although the suspensions will be lifted they will still show on an individual’s record, except it will be marked as cleared. If an individual is unsure if their license has been restored, they can verify its status through the Department of State through their online portal.