In order to drive yourself around (legally) you must maintain a valid driver’s license. Simple enough, right? Not if you obtain any number of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) tickets! Because my license (or lack of license) is in the state of Michigan, we will use that state as an example.
In Michigan, after you obtain one OWI, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for thirty days and then restricted for another 150 days. Depending on your blood alcohol content at the time of the OWI, you could face stricter consequences, including a driver’s license suspension of one year. You are then eligible for restrictions after forty-five days of the suspension, only if an ignition interlock device is installed on all vehicles you own or plan to operate. Ignition interlock devices cost between $100-$200 to install and carry a rental fee of between $70 and $100 a month.
After you obtain a second OWI in Michigan, you are looking at a driver’s license revocation and denial for a minimum of one year. This revocation and denial would increase to a minimum of five years if there were a prior revocation within a seven-year period. You will face similar consequences after a third OWI. Specifically, a driver’s license revocation and denial of a minimum of one year. Again, the revocation and denial increase to a minimum of five years if there are two convictions within a seven-year period or three convictions within a ten year period.
Now that we see what happens to our driver’s license after any number of OWI’s in Michigan, let’s look at what it takes to get our driver’s license back. At the minimum, this will include a $125 reinstatement fee. More likely, however, we are looking at that, along with a $200-$300 substance abuse evaluation and a substance abuse-related hearing.
During this hearing, a lawyer for the SOS will decide your case. For the hearing, you will need a laboratory report from a 10-panel urinalysis drug screen, evidence that supports your sobriety, and three to six support letters. As a habitual offender (two or more OWI convictions within a seven-year period or three or more within a ten year period) you will likely have at least two hearings because during the first hearing your request will be denied, and if you are fortunate enough you will get restrictions on your license, which will most likely involve the installation of an ignition interlock device.
I have experienced the consequences of multiple OWI’s. From that experience, I can assure you that it is a very frustrating and unpleasant process. It is my hope that you do not have to experience it, and if you have, that you never have to experience it again. By remaining sober, today you can retain/maintain your driver’s license as well as avoid the hassles that go along with losing it!