Michigan Driver’s License Restoration – An Overview of a License Appeal – Part 2

In part 1 of this article, we began as brief an overview as I can provide of the License Restoration process. I noted that I have over 40 rather detailed articles about every aspect Driver’s License Restoration on this blog, so this is an attempt, admittedly difficult for me, to provide a synopsis, rather than an expose of this subject. I am a License Restoration Lawyer by trade. My day to day work involves Representing people who need to win these Appeals and get back on the road. Still, I can see that the time has come to provide something of a summary of the process. Perhaps this will make understanding each of my more detailed articles a bit easier.

We left off by noting that the standard by which these Appeals are decided is pretty tough.

Overview5.pngIf a person loses a regular License Appeal, they have to wait a full year to try again. They can file a Circuit Court Appeal of the Hearing Officer’s decision, but those Appeals are uniformly a waste of time and money.

A person who files an Administrative Appeal and who loses can, within a number of days, request an in-person Hearing. The problem with that is that whatever errors or problems caused them to lose the first time are now a matter of Record. Thus, a bad Substance Abuse Evaluation, or inadequate Letters of Support cannot be “fixed” until the following year. Those documents are re-evaluated as part of the in-person Hearing Appeal of the Administrative Review.

The 2 issues which must always be proven by “clear and convincing evidence” in every Appeal are:

1. That the Petitioner’s alcohol (or substance abuse) problem is under control, and
2. That the Petitioner’s alcohol (or substance abuse) problem is likely to remain under control.

In some cases, usually where the person filing a License Appeal has been caught Driving since their License was Revoked, a 3rd issue must be addressed at the Hearing:

3. That the Petitioner is motivated to drive safely, and within the Law.

Obviously, the Secretary of State has a legitimate concern about someone following whatever restrictions are placed upon their License when their prior conduct demonstrates that they’ll just go ahead and drive when they have no License to do so. Accordingly, the Hearing Officer will need to be convinced that the person will follow whatever rules are set for them, and not just disregard them and do as they please. Again, this rule only becomes relevant when a person has demonstrated, by prior behavior, that they tend to disregard things, like NOT having a License, and driving anyway.

Of the first 2 issues, it is almost always the 2nd that causes an Appeal to fail. The 1st issue basically requires that the person prove a sobriety date, which almost always must be at least 1 year prior to their Hearing.

The 2nd issue, however, requires the person to prove that they are a safe bet to never drink again. I have written extensively on that subject, and even the quickest review of that here would take too much space for this article. Suffice it to say here that a person Appealing for a License must leave no doubt whatsoever that they will never, ever, drink again, under any circumstances.

There are, as noted above, 2 types of Appeals: The better, in-person Hearing, and one done by mail, called an Administrative Review. Administrative Reviews are notorious losers, but are often used by those who once had a Michigan Driver’s License, but have since moved out of state, and now need a Michigan Clearance of their Revocation in order to be Licensed in another State.

I simply do not believe in Administrative Reviews. My Office receives numerous calls from around the Country, and I am routinely offered my full Fee ($3000 in a License Restoration case) to walk someone through the process. Even though it would be easy money, I decline all such offers because I truly believe it’s my job to win these Appeals for the Client, and not just get paid to watch them lose.

Anyway, most Licenses are won after an actual Hearing. Many of those Hearings take place AFTER someone has either tried an Administrative Appeal, or gone in on their own, or with some Lawyer who merely claims to “do” License Appeals, and lost.

There are numerous locations for Hearings around the State. For my part, I have all of my cases, no matter where a Client lives, scheduled for Hearing at the DAAD’s Livonia Office. This office handles the Metro-Detroit area cases by default, but as a Lawyer, I am able to have every case I file heard there. There is, or course, an advantage to my doing this, because I know each of the 5 Hearing Officers conducting these examinations, and am familiar with the particular information important to each when they Hear a case.

In some cases, a person may have a “video Hearing,” which means that they are in a Secretary of State Office somewhere, sitting in front of TV monitor and camera, and the Hearing Officer is sitting in another location. I pass on those, as well.

At the Hearing, the Person is required to answer the questions of the Hearing Officer regarding their past Drinking and their current program of Recovery. The Attorney asks his or her own questions, and monitors the Client’s testimony, often making notes, to make sure that no important issue has been inadequately or incompletely addressed. Witnesses may be called, although I make it a point to NEVER call any.

Within a few weeks, a decision regarding the Appeal is mailed out. That decision, called an order will provide, depending on the kind of Appeal that was filed, 1 of 3 things:

1. The person loses, and it’s game over.

2. The person, if a Michigan Resident, will get a Restricted License with an ignition interlock for a minimum of 1 year.

3. The person, if not a Michigan Resident, will get a “Clearance” allowing them to get whatever kind of License they can in whatever state they now live.

That’s the process in a nutshell. Obviously, as my other articles demonstrate, each facet the process merits a closer, more careful examination. Anyone interested in this process should take the time to review those articles and learn more about how License Restoration cases are actually won. In a way, this article is more like a table of contents to those considerations rather than any serious discussion of them.