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Getting back on the road

Author: Tyler Knapp
Published: Jul 7 2013

One of the worst legal problems a normal, moral person is likely to face is the suspension of his driver’s license. There is no great moral obligation within our culture, outside of strict religious groups, to remain sober. The CDC estimates that some 112 million Americans drive drunk every year.

Because of this clear cultural acceptance of alcohol on the road, many Americans who otherwise never find themselves on the pointy end of the law will have to face the state and plead their case. This can be a very intimidating process for regular people.

While the laws vary somewhat from state to state, the basic process is the same, though it depends on where you are at in the suspension.

You’ve just been pulled over

Whether for a DUI, or if you’ve refused a breathalyzer test, which you are required to submit to because of implied consent laws, you are probably going to face suspension of your driver’s license. Your first step here should be:

- Contacting a lawyer

- Learning police protocol and determining if there were any mistakes

- Formulating a coherent justification or why you refused the breathalyzer testing

- Formulating a coherent justification for why you decided to drive in an inebriated state (an emergency perhaps)

- If you have adequate reason for your crime or if the officer made a mistake, you can avoid suspension entirely.

Your license is suspended

If you’ve already lost your driving privileges because of a DUI, you need a different tactic. You need to fully acknowledge your mistake, and make an argument for why you have changed, why you can now be trusted on the road, and why you need your driving privileges restored. For an appeal you will need:

- Letters of reference for license restoration

- A 10 Panel Drug Screen

- Your state’s required substance abuse evaluation

- Proof of any support group attendance

- A history of treatment

- A description of lifestyle changes that will prevent a relapse

Attempting to minimize the severity of the problem, even if it was only a minor slip up, will not help you. Focus specifically on how new and improved you are now. This may lead to you receiving a restricted license, specifically for you to commute to work and maybe Walmart.

You’ve been caught driving on a suspended license

In this case your license may be permanently revoked, though even a permanent ban expires eventually, or a significant extension of your suspension. In this case you have a variety of options

- If the officer pulled you over illegally, or made any other mistakes in the arrest protocol, you can win in court.

- If you have adequate justification for driving, you can fight based on that you were in an emergency situation

- You can contest the initial suspension.

- If you did not receive proper notice of your initial suspension, you can get off based on ignorance.

Once you’ve received a suspension or even the permanent ban, you can appeal once per year. With the proper preparation, many law offices report a higher than 90% success rate in restoring driver’s licenses. Given that, if your job depends on it, I would recommend lawyering up and fighting.

Tyler Knapp is a freelance writer on behalf of Grabel & Associates, who specialize in driver’s license restoration in Michigan. Knapp believes in every citizen’s right to stand up for themselves. He enjoys learning and writing about the law and how we interact with its institutions.

Grabel & Associates
1650 Kendale Blvd., Suite 110
East Lansing, MI 48823

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