“Can a revoked license be reinstated?” If you are looking at this page, you are most likely either worried that your license to drive will be revoked or it already has been. While the consequences of not being able to drive may be dire, you may be eligible to get it back.

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Suspension or Revocation of your License

It is important to understand that if you plead guilty to certain offenses or are found guilty of them, the effect on your ability to drive is automatic. The Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) has the sole responsibility to take action in a variety of situations and the actions that are required vary. You can find a chart showing all of the offenses that require action by the SOS and the action that is specifically required here.

According to the SOS website, your license may be revoked “when it is determined that you do not possess the physical, mental or other qualifications necessary to operate a motor vehicle safely.”

If you are or may be convicted of an offense that requires revocation of your license and if the revocation would be your first, the SOS will revoke your license for one year. If you have at least one prior revocation in the last seven years, the SOS will revoke your license for five years.

The good news is that Michigan law provides for you to have your driving privileges restored after the mandatory time has passed. The actions you take now and during the revocation period will better the odds that your license will be reinstated. Those actions will either increase the possibility of license restoration or decrease it.

This is particularly true if the conviction was for an alcohol-related or drug-related offense.

The Single Most Important Thing to Increase Your Chances of Having Your License Reinstated

If you are facing license revocation, you must take every possible step to create a picture of a person who can be trusted to drive again. As the SOS phrases it, the pivotal issue is, “whether the person can be considered a safe driver based upon documentary evidence and testimony.”

If the offense that resulted or may result in the SOS revoking your driving privileges involves alcohol or drugs, there are very specific factors they will look for when you apply for reinstatement. You can begin addressing those factors from almost the minute you are arrested or charged.

It is critical that you accept responsibility for your offense and begin taking steps to assure the SOS that you are worthy of having your license reinstated, and that you begin doing so now.

Restoring Your Driver’s License if your Offense(s) were Related to Substance Abuse

Your license will not be automatically reinstated at the end of the one-year or five-year revocation period. You must first attend a Driver Assessment reexamination. The reexamination includes “time for [a] driver assessment analyst to review your driver record and discuss your driving behavior with you.”

You may also have to pass vision and “knowledge tests” and/or a road test, but the reexamination will require you to prove that the “condition that caused your revocation is no longer present.”

The SOS stresses that the “pivotal issue” in seeking to restore a revoked license is “whether the person can be considered a safe driver based upon documentary evidence and testimony.”

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Can a Revoked License Be Reinstated as the Result of “Multiple Substance Abuse Convictions”?

The SOS website explicitly addresses a revocation due to “multiple substance abuse convictions.” If you are in that situation, you will be required to document that you are and have been sober. This may mean that you have to submit a “substance abuse evaluation form, evidence of sobriety, or a physician’s statement of examination.”

The SOS may also require you to successfully complete a written test, road-performance evaluation, and a vision test. However, the critical factor is establishing that you are sober and/or clean from drugs and alcohol.

man driving

The SOS website lists some of the materials that you can submit to them to establish sobriety, including “documentary evidence of attendance at support meetings.”

The phrase “attendance at support meetings” as used above typically means attendance at 12-Step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

While not required for reinstatement, regular attendance at 12-Step, and documenting your attendance, is one of the strongest indicators that the SOS will reinstate your license. Therefore, if you immediately start going to 12-Step meetings after you have been arrested or charged, you can immediately begin to create the picture of responsibility the SOS will be looking for.

If you have been going to meetings and had a slip, get back to the group as quickly as possible. The critical point is to resume participation.

Additional Steps to Establish Sobriety

There are at least two types of evidence that may be helpful to establish your sobriety. The first is a substance abuse evaluation dated no more than three months before you submit it. Your lawyer will explain the assessment to you and may refer you to specialists in completing such an evaluation.

The SOS also stresses the benefits of providing letters of support from members of your community. The SOS has specific requirements for the letters and your attorney will provide you with all the information you need to understand their importance, what they should include and how soon to obtain them.

An experienced attorney will walk you through the entire SOS hearing process and will explore additional steps you can take to increase the likelihood of your license reinstatement. You should not wait for even a short time to begin working with your attorney to maximize your chances of success.

You can only benefit by starting the process of rehabilitation and restoration immediately after you have been arrested or charged with a crime.

Actions the SOS Hearing Officer Can Take in Your Case

At the end of the reexamination process, the SOS analyst can either take no action, leaving your license revoked, OR your license can be reinstated with or without restrictions. The factors that will go into the analyst’s decision include the nature and type of your violation, your driving record and your willingness to comply with recommendations and requirements that result from the process.

Appealing to the Circuit Court

At this point, if you disagree with the officer’s course of action, you may wondering, “can a revoked license be reinstated after the hearing officer had made a decision?” It is possible to make an appeal to the circuit court. And if you have been practical, you have been working with an attorney up until now. That will make it much easier to quickly file an appeal. Michigan law requires that you file an appeal within 63 days of the SOS decision.

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Although the judge in the case that led to your conviction has no discretion about the effects on the SOS’s handling of your license, they have broad authority if you appeal the SOS decision. The circuit judge has control of when your hearing will be held and how it will be conducted.

The judge may decide to listen to witnesses or examine evidence that wasn’t submitted to the SOS. The judge also has the authority to reinstate your driver’s license, either with or without restrictions, or to send your case back to the SOS and grant you a new hearing.

Of course, the success of your appeal will be dramatically increased by a skilled, knowledgeable lawyer with extensive experience in this area of the law. But, again, your early participation and cooperation will enhance your attorney’s efforts on your behalf.

closeup of a gavel

To appeal to the circuit court, you will need to file a Petition seeking suspension, revocation, or denial of your driver’s license. You can see what the basic form looks like on the State Court Administrator’s Officer website here.

However, an experienced attorney will not use the basic form. Instead, they will prepare a comprehensive petition asking a circuit judge to decide in your favor. They will also support your petition information and evidence that supports your claim that you can be trusted to resume driving.

Among the many factors your lawyer may address are your:

  • family history and ties to your community,
  • your education,
  • military service and whether you are a veteran,
  • your current health and health history,
  • whether and to what extent you have participated in psychological therapy,
  • your current or past participation in volunteer activities, as well as any awards or honors you may have received.

Possible Arguments Your Lawyer May Make in Support of Your Petition to the Circuit Court

The most basic argument your lawyer must make in asking the circuit court to grant your petition is that the SOS hearing officer abused their discretion in deciding your case. Your lawyer will also explain how your “substantial rights” have been prejudiced, or negatively affected.

As a general statement, those rights include rights guaranteed by the United States and Michigan Constitutions, and by Michigan statutes. This part of the petition is the most technical and will be well understood by your lawyer. If you do not understand this part of the process, keep asking your lawyer to explain until you do understand. The only bad question in working toward restoring your driving privileges is the one you do not ask.

Since a revoked license can be reinstated, preserving evidence and preparing to fight traffic or criminal charges is always important. However, when your situation involves an alcohol-related or drug-related offense, you can begin preserving evidence and preparing to fight for your license immediately and throughout the period of revocation. You must make the decision to participate and cooperate with your attorney from the start.