Many, if not most, of my out-of-state clients who hire me for a Michigan driver’s license clearance case have previously tried and lost an administrative review filed with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS). Virtually all of these “do-it-yourself” attempts are made without a lawyer. For as many years as I have been a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I have pretty much learned that most people who hire me for a clearance will do so after having first taken a shot at it on their own. Accordingly, I don’t waste any time trying to convince someone that he or she shouldn’t try it, but rather just reassure him or her that I’m here if and when things don’t work out. In this article, I want to remind the reader just how much these “appeals by mail” are statistically doomed and why, if you really want to win a clearance of Michigan’s hold on your driving record, you need to come back to Michigan for a live hearing. Of course, it is a necessary first requirement to winning a license or clearance appeal that you have honestly quit drinking and are genuinely sober. If you at least have that, then read on.
For everything there is to back up these numbers, the plain and simple fact is that about 3 out of 4 administrative reviews are denied. That means that anyone who thinks about going this route needs to also think seriously about how a 1 out of 4 chance of winning sounds. Worse yet, you cannot file another new appeal for an entire year, although this is often a source of confusion because a person who is denied can request a hearing to review that denial, although no new evidence can be presented, and that hearing is not “another chance” to plead your case, but rather an opportunity to prove that the first decision was unlawful, which explains why I’ve NEVER seen one of those appeals succeed. Think of it this way, if you have a 3 out of 4 chance of losing by mail the first time, then you have about a 99.9 out of 100 chance of losing at an appeal which essentially considers whether that initial denial was legal or not. If luck has anything to do with it, a person should realize that he or she is not on any kind of roll coming off that first loss to begin with.
In some of my other driver’s license restoration blog articles, I explain why I will never do video hearings in any of my license appeal cases. Even though the local SOS branch office with a video terminal closest to my office is LESS than 5 minutes away, I will gladly drive nearly an hour to conduct my hearings live, and in-person, at the Livonia (Metro-Detroit area) hearings office. It should be obvious that if I won’t avail myself of the incredible convenience of a nearby video hearing because I think it is so inferior to a live proceeding, I certainly don’t believe in any kind of case being decided with no hearing at all. To fully understand why an administrative review is about as bad an idea as seeking financial advice at a homeless shelter, you need to know a few important facts about the whole license appeal process, beginning with the very rule under which every single clearance and restoration case is decided, known as “Rule 13.”