Types of Licenses Awarded at Driver's License Hearings

If you have lost your driver’s license in the state of Michigan due to two or more drinking and driving offenses within seven years you will be eligible for a driver’s license hearing after one year of sobriety. If you have three or more drinking and driving offenses within ten years then you must wait at least five years before you are eligible for a driver’s license restoration hearing. You also must demonstrate one year of sobriety before the hearing. This can be an exciting and stressful prospect. After all of the hardship, ride sharing, and public transportation you are now eligible to have your driver’s license restored, but what does that mean? Well, it is a common question to wonder what type of driver’s license you may be eligible for. In this section we will talk about driver’s license restoration, the type of driver’s license you win back, and finishing the process by obtaining your full driving privileges.

Stage 1: Driver’s License Restoration and Restricted License

If served the required revocation period since your last drinking and driving conviction and you have not been caught driving with a revoked license; now is the time to request a Driver’s License Restoration Hearing with the Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight at the Secretary of State, formerly called the Administrative Hearings Section. For the purposes of this hearing, proving that you are sober and likely to remain sober is fundamental to winning a hearing. Following is a full list of the elements that must be proved to the hearing officer by clear and convincing evidence:

  • Your alcohol and/or substance abuse problems are under control and are likely to remain under control
  • You represent a low or minimal risk of drinking or being under the influence of illicit drugs while driving
  • You have the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law
  • You have met the minimum one year of abstinence

Our driver's license restoration attorneys have a phenomenal track record of winning 97% of the hearings the first time. If choose us, you can expect to win. We are so confident that we will guarantee that if you don’t win the first time, then we will represent you free of charge until you do win. So let’s assume that Grabel & Associates has provided expert legal counsel to prepare you for your substance abuse evaluation, and reviewed all of your reference letters, and finally led you to victory at your hearing in front of the hearing officer. The big question is--what kind of driver’s license can you expect to win? The answer is a restricted driver’s license in almost all circumstances if you live in Michigan.

If you win a driver’s license restoration hearing, then you must be on a restricted driver’s license for at least one year. There is no way around this if you are applying as a “in state” Michigan resident. However, there are three types of restricted licenses that a hearing officer can issue. The first and most common is a straight forward restricted license. All of the restrictions are the same for each person for the first year, and you cannot make any modifications to them. Essentially, you can drive to and from work, school, treatment, and probation. Here is the full list from the statute:

Any combination of the following:

  • To a person’s residence
  • To a person’s work
  • To an alcohol or drug treatment program ordered by the court
  • The court probation department
  • A court ordered community service program
  • An educational institution which the person is enrolled as a student

You can go to and from work, school, treatment, or probation, and must carry proof of your destination with you at all times while driving on a restricted license. These restrictions may seem onerous, but they are meant to test your commitment to following the law. If you look at the third element that needs to be proved at the hearing, it reads, “You have the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.” This means no grocery shopping, no taking your kids to school, and no stopping by a friend’s house for dinner. However, it is only for one year and once you get to stage two you can file for your full driver’s license the same day you become eligible.

The other requirement that will be a compulsory part of your restricted license for one year is the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID). This device, commonly referred to as a blow-and-go, requires you to take a breathalyzer test each time you start your vehicle. The device will also require that you take a test while you are underway at random intervals. There will be a digital camera installed in your vehicle to take a picture of you each time you blow into the device, so they know that it is you. Navigate over to our Ignition Interlock Violation Defense page to learn more about the rules of the BAIID and what to avoid.

Time-Based Restricted License

The second type of restricted license that is far less common is the time-based restricted license. The hearing officer has the discretion to award a license that is restricted based on time. For example, a person might be allowed to drive from the hours of 6:00am to 7:00pm, but still with a BAIID. This is a highly advantageous situation, because none of the other restrictions apply. This means a person could drive around for no particular reason if they wanted to during their permitted times.

Hybrid Restricted License: Restrictions Plus Time Based

This type or restricted license is less common. A hearing officer will award a hybrid restricted license if a person needs it. For example, when a person has long term sobriety and is working a third shift job so they need to be able to go to and from work, but they also have a special needs child that requires unexpected care during the daytime. Then a hearing officer can award a time-based restriction from 6:00am to 8:00pm so he or she can take the child to the doctor as needed, and a basic restricted license to get to work after hours for their third shift job. These situations are rare, and still are at the discretion of the hearing office.

Out-of-State Driver’s License Restoration: Winning a Clearance and a Full License

If you have had your driver’s license suspended or revoked in Michigan, and have subsequently moved out of state, then you will need to petition the State of Michigan for a clearance. You can win a clearance by conducting an administrative review of your file, or conducting a full driver’s license restoration. An administrative review is when you collect all of the documents and evidence, and submit them all by mail. There are two distinct advantages to conducting an administrative review. First, you do not have to come back to Michigan and can submit everything by mail. Second, you get a second attempt if you are unsuccessful at the administrative review. This means that you can immediately apply for a full driver’s license restoration hearing if you do win your full driver’s license back from administrative review. The best part is the type of license that you will win. If you win a clearance, then the Michigan Secretary of State will lift the hold on your license and your new home state will issue you a full driver’s license upon fulfilling the requirements of the state you now reside in. This means if you win an out-of-state driver clearance, then you will not have a restricted license or a breathalyzer interlock. You will have full driver privileges in your new home state once you get the hold lifted in Michigan and complete your residing state’s drivers test.

Stage 2: Appealing for a Full Driver’s License

Stage two is where you get your license fully restored. After a year of using a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID), then you can petition to have your full license restored. At long last, after all the breathalyzer tests and missed social engagements, you can finally petition to have your full driving privileges restored!

There is a catch. You absolutely should not wait longer than one year to petition to have your full license restored. If you do, you are tempting fate. You may have gotten through your year on a restricted license without having any type of BAIID violations, but accidental violations can and do frequently occur. The most common example is a missed rolling retest. For example, a person starts their engine with the BAIID, and realizes they forgot their phone inside on the counter. If the person runs inside to grab their phone with the engine running, and their device requests a rolling retest, then you will likely have a BAIID violation to defend against. This can all be avoided if you take the first opportunity you get to petition to have your full license restored. Contact us online so we can have you ready to file the day your year is up, and we can get you rolling toward being back on the road with a full unrestricted driver’s license.

We are available 24/7 to start the process of winning your restricted license back now. We will put together a comprehensive plan to move you from stage one to stage two and get your driver’s license fully restored. Work with our team of expert attorneys, and we will help you win your license restoration hearing and get you back on the road! Call Grabel & Associates at 1-800-677-9795.

Please note: Recently Administrative Hearings Section (AHS) changed their name to the Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight. Common use of the name Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight has not yet been widely accepted and the entity responsible for driver's license hearings is still referred to as AHS in almost all legal areas, which is why we continue to use the term "AHS" throughout our website. More information about this change can be found at the Michigan Secretary of State's website here.

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