Michigan Driver’s License Restoration – Introduction – Part 1

As a Michigan Lawyer who devotes a substantial part of his Practice to Driver’s License Restoration Cases, I have written extensively about this subject on my Website. In past articles on this Blog, I have on several occasions divided longer articles into 2, and even 3 parts. Because the subject of Driver’s License Restorations is so vast, I have decided to post a whole series of articles broken down section by section as I review the process and what’s involved.

These are going to be long posts. There is no way to shortcut this subject. If you have any doubts about what’s involved, take a look at the DAAD Practice Manual, and spend some time reading it. In a few minutes, you’ll get the idea that this is complicated stuff. Just like no one can join a Karate class and get a black-belt in an hour or two, just familiarizing yourself with what’s involved in getting your license back will take some time. If there was a shortcut, believe me, I’d be using it.

In this introductory article, which is itself so long that it needs to be broken into two parts, we’ll do an abbreviated overview of License Restorations, in an attempt to point out some of the more important areas as well as some of the larger misconceptions surrounding the whole subject.

Driving.jpgIn my “About this Blog” article, I point out that even though my office is in Mt. Clemens, I handle Michigan License Restoration cases no matter where a person lives, whether in, or even outside of Michigan. That’s because, as I point out in my Website, I can schedule all Hearings to take place at the Secretary of State’s Driver’s Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) Office in Livonia, Michigan, where I appear regularly. Thus, the information given on both my Website and the articles about this subject apply to everyone, no matter where they live (even if that’s outside of Michigan), as long as they are in need of either a Clearance or Restoration of their Michigan Driver’s License. I point this out because I go to great pains elsewhere on my Website and Blog to point out that in my Criminal Practice, I only take on those cases being heard in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties (and will, on occasion, handle a Criminal Case being heard in St. Clair, Lapeer or Livingston Counties).

Perhaps the first and biggest misconception I encounter springs from a Revoked Driver’s belief that at the time they become “eligible” to appeal for a License, simply applying for a Hearing and testifying that they haven’t been drinking will be enough to win their case. Likewise, some people think that just demonstrating how hard things have been without a License, or how they’ve been held back, either in employment or educational opportunities, in the absence of a License, is relevant to their case. These Applicants feel that hiring a Lawyer to sit with them at the Hearing can only make things better.

I suspect that some of this comes from their prior experience in Court, with their DUI Cases. In those cases, having a Lawyer who knows the Court is generally an asset. Sometimes, the goodwill or reputation of their Lawyer is perceived to have “rubbed off” to produce a more favorable outcome to their case. And for purposes of this article, there’s no need to dispute that.

License Restoration Cases, however, are won or lost solely based upon the evidence presented. There is no ‘benefit of the doubt” that is, or can be, granted in these Cases. That being said, I do believe it’s vitally important that a person’s Lawyer know what every DAAD Hearing Officer will ask, as well as what unique questions will be asked by any particular Hearing Officer, and that knowledge comes from day-in and day-out experience in appearing before them. This is why I only schedule my Cases in the Metro-Detroit Hearing Office in Livonia. Anyone from anywhere, who is seeking either the Clearance or Restoration of a Michigan License, is eligible to have their Hearing Scheduled at the office which would be considered “local” to their Lawyer. For me, that means all of my License Restoration Cases are scheduled in the Livonia Office.

Another misconception that I deal with involves the concept of sobriety. Unless a person is really familiar with the rules the DAAD must follow and how they are interpreted and applied, then the notion that they can just show up and testify that they “quit drinking” after their last DUI doesn’t seem, to them at least, to be wrong. In fact, many people believe that’s exactly what they ought to do. Yet the truth is that such testimony and evidence is miles short of what’s necessary to win a case.

In my Practice, I run into two kinds of people: Those who have never Appealed for a License Restoration, and have to be “taught” or “convinced” of how high the bar is set in these cases, and those who have Appealed, on their own, and lost. The first group wonders if I’m overstating how much work goes into these cases. The second group needs no “convincing” and is just glad that there is someone there to help and who knows all the stuff they don’t.

There are several things (issues) that a person Appealing for Restoration of their Driver’s License must prove. We’ll go over those in more detail in later articles, but here, we’ll mention the 2 that are the most important:

1. The Petitioner’s (the person Appealing) Alcohol Problem is under control, and
2. The Petitioner’s Alcohol Problem is likely to remain under control.

The way the DAAD interprets the two things mentioned above essentially translates to this:

1. The Petitioner (the person Appealing) hasn’t had a drink in at least a year, and preferably not since their last DUI, and

2. Because of the Counseling, AA, the person has attended, and because of the lifestyle changes the person has made, their whole outlook involves a consciousness about remaining sober, and living an alcohol-free lifestyle.

In other words, the person must prove that they have made and undergone such substantial changes in who they are and what they do, it is both accurate and fair to describe them as very different now from the person they were at the time they were last arrested for DUI. That difference is so great that it would almost be an insult, much less an understatement, to describe it in simple terms like “quitting drinking.”

In the second part of this Introduction, we’ll review how a case starts, what documents need to be filed, and how those documents should be prepared. We’ll also summarize what kind of information the DAAD needs and wants as it reviews a case, looking particularly to the Substance Abuse Evaluation and the Letters of Support that must be filed along with the Request for a Hearing, which formally opens a case.