In part 6 of this series, we discussed what happens at the actual Drivers’ License Appeal Hearing. In this seventh and final installment of our overview of the Driver’s License Restoration Process, we’ll wrap up with some final observations about what happens after the Hearing. We’ll examine how an Appeal is either Granted or Denied, we’ll talk about the mandatory ignition interlock system that Michigan residents must install in whatever car they’ll be driving for at least a year, and what the term “Restricted” means as far as a License goes, how out-of-state Clients essentially win an “Full” License, and then we’ll finish with some commonly asked questions about the License Appeal Process.
Let’s rewind a bit. Let’s go back to the Hearing Room for a moment. The Hearing has just ended. The Hearing Officer calls the case “off” the Record, announcing the time it ends, and then hits the “stop” button on the Recorder. At that point, goodbyes are said, and we leave the Hearing Room and head toward the waiting room of the DAAD Hearing Office.
After the Hearing has ended, I usually go over it with my Client, and do a sort of “post-game wrap up.” Normally, this involves me explaining to the Client how and why I think we won.
That’s it. The process, or at least our active part in it, is complete at that point. No decision is announced at the conclusion of the Hearing. Instead, we go home and wait.
I’m often asked about that. Standard protocol is for the Hearing Officer to tell the parties that he or she will take the Appeal under advisement, and, once a decision is reached, will thereafter forward a written copy of that decision to everyone. One of the main reasons the Hearing Officers do not announce a decision on the spot is for safety. Except for those that I handle, many, if not most Appeals, lose.
In my Practice, I win nearly 99% of mine the first time, and, as I have mentioned before, I offer a guarantee that I’ll win any Appeal I accept the first time, and will go back, without further legal Fees, until I do win my Client’s License back. Thankfully, I’ve never had to go back a 3rd time, and out of the hundreds and hundreds of cases I’ve handled, have only had to go back a second time on just a few occasions.
If the Hearing Officer were to announce to someone that they have just lost, it’s not hard to imagine someone “going off” on them, blaming them for holding the person back with respect to their employment opportunities, or their ability to otherwise lead a normal life. BY the same token if the Hearing Officers began announcing winning decisions on the spot, while those people would be grateful, others might learn that NOT being told they’ve won means they lost, and that could result in the same kind of confrontation.
It takes anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to get the decision, and it arrives in a formal written Order form in the mail. When a person wins, the decision is accompanied by instructions about getting the ignition interlock unit installed in their car, and telling them that they must go to a Secretary of State Branch Office to get an actual Restricted License.
For out-of-state Clients, they’ll receive the same decision, but if the Appeal is Granted, they’ll simply be notified that the Michigan has issued a “Clearance” which allows them to obtain a License in another state.
Michigan Residents can only win a Restricted License, and must install an ignition interlock unit (a breathalyzer unit) in whatever vehicle they’ll be driving. By Law, this must be for at LEAST one year. A person can drive on the Restricted License and with the ignition interlock indefinitely. However, after the 1-year period is up, they can go back to the DAAD and file a new License Appeal and request removal of the interlock unit and a Full License.
There are 2 options for Restricted Licenses:
1. The first kind is just a general Restricted License, and allows the person to drive to, from and during the course of employment, to and from school, to and from any necessary medical treatment, and to and from AA or some sobriety support group meetings, if they’re into that. There are NO time limitations on this type of License, so a person on-call can be driving for work at anytime during the 24 hour day, or simply decide to go to a 3 am AA meeting.
2. The second type of Restricted License is time-based. It allows the person to drive for ANY reason during the allotted times, usually something like 7 am to 7 pm, or something like that.
Only one of the Hearing Officers in Livonia asks the person what type they’d like if they were to win (assuming, of course, the person is working. If they’re not currently employed, they’ll automatically be given the time-based License). The others default to the work-type License, unless the person is on disability or something. A person can always contact Lansing to change from one type of License to the other.
This is an important point. In order to go from the Restricted to a Full License, and in order to have the ignition interlock unit removed, the person must go through another full License Appeal. This Appeal is identical to the first Appeal, EXCEPT that the person must also bring in what’s called a “Final Report” from the interlock company detailing that they’ve had no violations on the interlock since its installation, or detailing any such violations. Don’t worry, minor violations occur all the time, and are NOT a serious cause for concern. However, what’s called a “major violation” is a big deal, and will result in the DAAD scheduling an immediate Hearing to determine why the person’s License shouldn’t be completely Revoked again.
Thankfully, those are rare, and really only occur when a person has returned to drinking.
Thus, within a month, the person will find out if they’ve won or lost. Not to be funny about it, but if they’re my Clients, they’ll simply be waiting to find out they’ve won, and what to do next.
At this point, I’m going to turn to a sort of “FAQ” style conclusion to this section. Normally, I don’t like FAQ, but the following represent questions that I’m asked so frequently, they really do qualify as “Frequently Asked Questions.”
Q. Is there any way to win a Full License rather than a Restricted License?
A. No. If you live in Michigan, the ONLY option is a Restricted License.
Q. Is there any way to NOT get an ignition interlock unit put on my car?
A. No. If you live in Michigan, and you win a Restricted License, you MUST have the ignition interlock installed in any vehicle you drive for at least one full year, and can only have it removed after you file another Appeal after that year is up.
Q. How much does this ignition interlock thing cost?
A. This is why it’s called “FAQ,” and not “FA,” or “frequent answers.” I don’t know, except that it is NOT prohibitively expensive.
Q. How many Letters of Support do I need?
A. Rule 13, which governs License Appeals, requires between 3 and 6 letters. My magic number for a minimum is 4, and I have submitted as many as 8 Letters.
Q. What should the Letters say?
A. I help extensively with this, and we’ll go over that in significant detail when you first come in.
Q. How do I get the Letters to you, and how do you get the corrected copies back to me?
A. I can do it by email, fax, or regular mail. Normally, most people do it by email.
Q. Who should I call as a witness, or as witnesses?
A. No one. I don’t believe in witnesses. I win all of my cases without them.
Q. Do you have a place where I should go to get the Substance Abuse Evaluation completed?
A. Yes. I have several, but my favorite is a Clinic a few blocks from my Office. They do a good job, providing a first-class product at a price LESS than anywhere else I’ve found.
Q. I live far away (or out of state). Can I come and see you the day I have my Substance Abuse Evaluation completed at the Clinic by your Office?
A. Yes. We set it up that way so you can do it all in one trip, and then go back home.
Q. Do I really need a Lawyer to do this?
A. Legally speaking, no. I will gladly tell anyone thinking about trying this on their own to go for it. Then, call me next year when you’ve decided you really want to win.
Q. Why should I hire you?
A. Because I am a Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer for whom this kind of case represents the vast majority of my practice. I win, and I guarantee it. I don’t just “do” License Appeals, they’re pretty much most of what I do. I’ve won more cases in the last year than most Lawyer will ever handle in their entire legal career.
Q. How much do you charge?
A. $3000, beginning with $1000 down at the first meeting, which, by the way, is scheduled BEFORE the Client has their Substance Abuse Evaluation completed, so that I can spend those 3 hours preparing them for it, and which will typically last about 3 hours.
Q. Do I need to come and see you to prepare for the Hearing?
A. No. I actually prefer to do my “preps” the night before the Hearing, on the phone, after business hours, so that there are no distractions. This “prep” session usually lasts about an hour, or perhaps just a bit longer.
Q. I have other questions not listed here. How can I ask them of you?
A. You can call my Office anytime, M-F, between 8:30 and 5, at 586-228-6523, or you can use the contact form on this blog, or just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The License Restoration process is involved. It’s complexity lies not within the governing Rules, but rather the application of those Rules. These things are learned by experience. I can help a person who has turned that corner in their life, and who has really gotten Sober, to get back on the road. I am open to answering any questions a person has, and I have he absolute best, and nicest staff anywhere. If you pick up the phone to call my Office, you’ll never feel any kind of “pressure” to make an appointment. Instead, we’ll answer your questions, and invite you to call back with any others you might have. In the end, if you hire me, you’ll win your License back. If you ultimately follow some other path, you’ll at least hang up the phone rather pleasantly surprised at how nice and helpful my staff and I are, and you’ll be glad you called.
Whatever decision the reader makes, they should arrive at it after lots of careful consideration. Just as there are no shortcuts to properly handling a License Appeal, the process of deciding who to hire must be given adequate consideration, as well.