This article about Michigan driver's license restoration will be a return to the more detailed examination of a single aspect of the license appeal process that is typical of most articles on this blog. The last stage in the driver's license restoration process is the appeal hearing. In my practice, making sure my client is thoroughly prepared for it is beyond "important," it is absolutely critical. In all my years as a driver's license appeal lawyer, I have NEVER gone into a hearing without having carefully "prepped" my client for every single question that will be asked, and every last thing that is likely to take place.
In the last couple of weeks before writing this article, my schedule of hearings has exploded due to the recent Christmas and New Year's holiday. Whereas I normally have about 2 or 3 hearings every week, the last few have deposited about 4 or 5 on my calendar. I really notice this because of the time in invest in each my pre-hearing "preps." Normally, I call each client the evening before his or her hearing, long after the close of the business day. "Preps" can last anywhere from about 40 minutes to a bit more than an hour, depending on the facts of the client's case and the number of questions or concerns he or she may have.
All of my driver's license restoration appeal hearings are scheduled at the Michigan Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) office in Livonia. Beyond being the default hearing location for cases in the Metro-Detroit area, it would hardly make sense for me to scurry between the other hearing offices in Lansing and Grand Rapids. In other articles, I have made clear that I do not believe in video hearings, even though I could easily do them. In fact, the nearest video location is about 3 to 4 minutes from my office, while the actual hearing location requires nearly an hour's drive. I would never sacrifice a live hearing because I think it's essential that the hearing officer deciding the case can get a close up view of my client's body language and demeanor. This is particularly true for me, because I only accept cases for people who have truly quit drinking and are genuinely sober. I don't want any of the subtleties that mark the profound transformation from drinker to non-drinker to get lost in a boomy, choppy, webcam-type video feed.
Because of my extensive hearing experience, I know the very different personalities of each of the 5 Livonia hearing officers. Recently, one of the hearing officers announced a preference to have the lawyers do virtually all of the questioning. This stands in stark contrast to how things are done by the other 4 hearing officers there. Regardless of the assigned hearing officer, every one of my clients will walk into the hearing knowing exactly what questions either the hearing officer or I will be asking. While that sounds good, merely knowing what questions will be asked hardly amounts to being "prepared." Instead, being "prepared" means understanding the bigger picture of what issues are up for decision in a license appeal, and very specifically how the facts of your case fit into them.