While some motorists regard driving as a basic right, the fact is that operating a motor vehicle is a privilege that must be earned and maintained by demonstrating safe and lawful driving. Under certain circumstances, an individual's Michigan driver's license may be suspended or revoked for a specific length of time, depending on the person's driving record or history, and the particular violation(s).
REASONS FOR DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
There are a variety of reasons why your Michigan driver's license might be suspended. Some of these are related to specific driving violations, while others may be due to violation of other State laws. Following are some of the most common reasons for a Michigan driver's license to be suspended or revoked.
- Excessive Moving Violations. The state of Michigan operates on a point system, in which drivers accumulate points on their license for every moving violation they commit. If you accumulate 12 or more points on your current driver record, your license will be suspended.
- Driving Under the Influence. Your Michigan driver's license will be suspended if you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The length of the suspension depends on the severity of the violation and whether it is a first or repeat offense. Refusing to take a test will also result in your license being suspended. A first time DUI will result in a six month suspension and you will not be able to apply for a restricted license for the first month. A second time offense within 7 years will result in a year's suspension with no chance of a restricted license for the first six months.
- Driving with a Suspended License or no License. Driving with a suspended license will lead to an increase in the length of the suspension, and you may also be imprisoned for up to five years. The duration of the additional suspension varies depending on the reason for the underlying suspension. Your driver's license may also be suspended if you do not have your license with you while you are driving.
- Driving without Insurance. All motor vehicles driven in Michigan must be properly insured. Failure to provide proof of valid auto insurance can result in your license being suspended.
- Other Driving-Related Violations. Your Michigan driver's license may also be suspended if you engage in reckless driving, are found to be at fault in a fatal accident, or if you abandon your vehicle on a public highway.
- Physical or Psychological Disqualification. The Secretary of State can order a re-examination of any person who may not be fit to drive. An individual's driving privileges may be suspended if the re-examination finds they are physically or psychologically unable to drive safely.
- Non-Driving Reasons for License Suspension. A variety of non-driving violations or issues can result in your license being suspended. These include: not responding to a Secretary of State notice or not appearing in court; failing to pay traffic tickets, fines or surcharges; and not paying child support.
- Joyriding. If you have no prior convictions within 7 years a first time offense will see your license being suspended for 90 days. If you have a prior conviction or more within 7 years, the suspension period is one year.
- Stealing Motor Vehicle Gas. A first offense will result in a 180 day suspension. Subsequent offenses will see your license being suspended for a year.
- Fake Change of Address. A first offense will result in a 180 day suspension. Subsequent offenses will see your license being suspended for a year.
- For Making a Fake School Bomb Threat. Your license will be suspended for a year if you are guilty of this.
- Mandatory Suspensions. Your license will be suspended for a year for changing or falsifying a vehicle document, using a motor vehicle for a crime, evading/fleeing from a police officer. Your license will be suspended for 90 days for leaving the scene of an accident where there has been a serious injury without giving aid, reckless driving, spiteful destruction, using ID unlawfully if under 21.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR MICHIGAN DRIVER'S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED
Having your Michigan driver's license suspended is a serious matter and it is essential to adhere to State law in the event that your license is suspended. If you believe your license may be suspended due to one of the reasons listed above it is advisable to speak with a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer.
The most important things to be aware of following a license suspension are:
- If your license has not already been taken away from you in court, you must surrender it to the Michigan Secretary of State. You can surrender your license in person at a Secretary of State office, or mail it to:
Michigan Department of State Lansing, MI 48918
- While your license is suspended, you are not permitted to drive. If you are found driving with a suspended license, you may be imprisoned for up to five years, and/or the length of your suspension may be increased.
- After your suspension is over, you will receive a written notice of restoration, with instructions on how to restore your license. Do not drive until you have completed the necessary steps and received a valid, replacement license from the Michigan SOS.
- If your license has been suspended you may apply for a restricted license that permits you to drive to work, school or to receive medical treatment.
APPEALING A SUSPENSION
If you receive a notice of suspension from the SOS, and you wish to challenge the suspension, you may request a hearing in court. Fill in the Request for Driver License Appeal Hearing form and mail or fax it to:
Driver Assessment and Appeal Division, P.O. Box 30196, Lansing, MI 48909-7696. Fax: (517) 335-2190 or (517) 335-2189.
An administrative law judge or the SOS representative will hear your case, and determine whether your driver's license should be suspended or not. In addition, drivers whose license may be suspended due to accumulating excessive points may be eligible to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program . Completing a Driver Improvement Program can enable an individual to avoid having his license suspended.
It is also a good idea to seek the advice of a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer, based on the reason for the suspension.
RESTORING YOUR LICENSE
You will receive a notice from the SOS after you have completed your suspension period. The notice will include complete instructions regarding how to get your license back. Generally, you will need to:
- Pay a restoration fee of $125. The fee can be paid in person at a Secretary of State office. You can also mail a check or money order payable to:
Michigan Department of State Distributed Services Unit Lansing, Michigan 48918
You will need to fill in an Application for Driver's License Reinstatement Fee form and send it along with your check.
- If your license was suspended as you were a habitual alcohol offender, you will need to appeal to the Driver Assessment and Appeal Division using the procedure given above. You will need to prove that your alcohol/drug abuse is under control and will remain this way. You will also have to establish that you have a low risk of repeating such behavior and that you will comply with driving rules and regulations in the future. The form you will need to submit in this case is a [www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/SOS_257_Request_for_Hearing_405747_7.doc Request for Administrative Review or Hearing]. After the hearing, a restricted license or a driving license with no restrictions may be returned to you.
- Apply for a standard license renewal to obtain a new license.
Note that after you license is restored, you may be subject to a probation period of one year, during which any new violations may result in an additional suspension of your Michigan driver's license.