License Restoration Questions - Your Experience with Sobriety

Have you ever attempted to stop drinking in the past?

How long were you able to abstain from alcohol?

What, if anything, triggered your relapse?

What measures have you taken to ensure you do not relapse again?

At this point in your reading, you have come to realize that insincere thinking takes you farther from your goal of securing a license. Questions that deal directly with controlling your drinking strike at the heart of the hearing’s purpose; your sincere responses can therefore speak volumes on your behalf in showing the hearing officer that your drinking is now under control. Presumably, if you have ever attempted to stop drinking in the past, your body and mind have put up resistance. Yet, not unlike many things worth achieving, a certain struggle will ensue before you can enjoy anything resembling an “accomplishment.” As sobriety is, by nature, a work in progress, you should be willing to at least demonstrate that your struggle with maintaining a clean lifestyle has paid dividends.

Whether or not you care to admit, alcohol consumption has been a major player in the lives of all repeat drunk drivers. It is only fair to suggest that a sustained attempt at controlling this unwelcome guest has not been easy. It is not shameful nor harmful to your efforts in acknowledging that sobriety was and is a struggle. In fact, choosing not to acknowledge this reality may demonstrate to the hearing officer that still lack the understanding of what sobriety really means. Do not make this fatal mistake. Instead, swallow your pride and come face to face with your demons. A willingness to do so shows a realistic understanding of alcoholism and how to control your urges when they appear.

Hence, if you have attempted to stop drinking in the past but were unable to do so, admit it! However, if you truly are a sober person, you will also have the privilege of showing how you have learned from your failed attempts with an improved “stay sober” strategy. For example, if, in the past, you abstained from alcohol for a time but suddenly chose to drink again, you may show that your decision to drink was prompted by a stressful time at work. In identifying the trigger responsible for your relapse, you have adopted a strategy for maintaining sobriety the next time things get too hectic at the office. This self-examination goes a long way in convincing a hearing officer that you are serious about staying clean.

In contrast, a DLAD hearing officer is not likely to believe that you simply quit drinking “cold turkey.” If you allege that you have abruptly quit, most of the triggers that prompted your drinking in the past have gone unresolved. If the underlying issues involved with your drinking have been ignored in the face of your alleged accomplishment, it is only a matter of time until you drink again. If, indeed, you leave the hearing officer the false impression that you are “bigger” than your drinking, your success at the hearing is not likely. While the officers are not usually therapists, there are some fundamental concepts involved with alcoholism that strongly oppose the idea that you can overcome drinking by sheer willpower alone. The secretary of state is not likely to entrust someone with a driver license who does not demonstrate the fundamental understanding that alcoholism is more than excessive drinking, and that sobriety is more than not drinking. You must learn this lesson and learn it well: you are in a daily struggle to refrain from alcohol for the rest of your life; any suggestion to the contrary hurts your efforts to secure a driver license.

As your attempts to stay sober have been up and down, you should show the hearing officer that, in examining your drinking patterns of the past, you have learned what triggers your drinking and how to address those triggers. In particular, it will be very helpful to show the hearing officer that you are keenly aware of when an urge to drink comes, and also keenly aware of what should be done to silence those urges. To illustrate: if, in attempting to stay sober in the past, you realized that your urges to drink corresponded to high periods of stress, you may also explored other methods to deal with stress. These methods should have come to eventually replace the need to drink. If, for instance, you experiment with exercise as a means to deal with stress and conclude that it alleviates the urge to drink, a regular exercise regimen shows the hearing officer several things: First, in shows the officer that you have been diligent and serious in examining your drinking. Second, it demonstrates that you have the ability and humility to point to specific factors that prompt your urges. Third, in demonstrating a specific knowledge of what has triggered your urges in the past, you may now show how you have incorporated certain daily activities in your life that assist you in fending off those urges. You have, in essence, come full circle, and have established a stylistic “vaccine” you can take when your temptations are the strongest. An “anti-drinking formula” in place in your life shows the DLAD hearing officer that you respect the gravity of the task you struggle for, and are fully capable of succeeding when the struggle becomes great. If you demonstrate these things, your ability to once again operate a motor vehicle may become a reality.