Appealing a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration (DAAD) loss Directly to Circuit Court

Not a week goes by in my Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Practice without someone calling me right after they’ve opened their mail and found out they’ve lost a Michigan Secretary of State License Appeal. To be clear, these aren’t my Clients: I win about 98% of my cases the first time around, and I even Guarantee it. Those who call me after a loss are either people who have tried a “do-it-yourself” Michigan License Reinstatement without a Lawyer, or hired some Attorney who said he or she could “do” a License Appeal. Obviously, things didn’t work out quite the way they had hoped.

On my website, I have noted that it is almost always too late to hire a real Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer, like me, after a person has gone before the Michigan Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) on their own, or with a Lawyer who doesn’t specialize in License Appeals, and lost. Not to sound flippant about it, but hiring a qualified specialist should have been the original plan of action.

sad-face2.1.jpgWithin the body of the Driver’s License Restoration section of this blog I have examined how and why people who have tried a Michigan License Restoration Appeal on their own, or with some Lawyer whose best qualification to handle one of these rather complex cases is that they “do” License Appeals, or that they do them “cheap,” and then lost, turn out to be the best Clients for me. In the series of articles that followed, I carefully reviewed how I’ll have to go about fixing the errors and mistakes that the person, or their former Lawyer made in trying that first Appeal, causing it to lose. Nothing about that has changed.

Unfortunately, another thing that has not changed is that those who call my Office after losing a “do-it-yourself” Michigan License Restoration seem to think that all they need to do is spend the money and hire a specialist like me to fix things. They often believe that filing an Appeal in Court will change the outcome.

That rarely happens. On top of that, I never do Appeals to Court. Because I win almost all of my cases, and back that up with a Guarantee, I have very little experience losing, and have no reason to take any of my cases to Court. I certainly have no interest in going to Court on a case that someone else has screwed up. The reader must understand that you cannot appeal to Circuit Court just because you disagree with the decision. Nor can you appeal to Court and “correct” mistakes made in the original case, such as a loss caused by a “questionable/insufficient Substance Abuse Evaluation,” or problems with the Letters of Support.

Instead, an appeal to Court must essentially prove that the Hearing Officer who decided the case committed a legal error. Technically speaking, while the person who files a License Appeal must prove his or her case by “Clear and Convincing Evidence,” the Hearing Officer’s decision must be based upon what is called “Competent and Material Evidence.” This means that even if the Hearing Officer was really “nit-picky,” and even if a Circuit Judge reviewing the case comes right out and says (and this has happened) that “if I had been the Hearing Officer, I would have Granted your Appeal,” unless that Judge can find legal error to the degree that he or she concludes that the Denial was not supported by Material and Competent Evidence, it will stand. Good luck with that….

Unfortunately, almost every time someone comes to me with their previous Denial in hand, I see the mistakes they made, or their prior Lawyer made, which resulted in that Denial, but I don’t see any basis to appeal to Court. I have to tell them that they’ll have to wait a full year, when they’re eligible to go before the DAAD again.

The main point I’m trying to make here is that once a person takes their shot at the DAAD, they’ve taken their shot, win or lose. If they lose, they’ll almost certainly have to wait until their year is up, and they can file a new License Appeal. Even then, they’ll have to fix the mistakes that caused them to lose the first time. In most cases, the mistakes I find are pretty obvious.

Yet there are a couple of things we can take from this:

First, be wary of filing a Circuit Court Appeal after having lot at the DAAD. I’ve had people in my Office who felt bad about losing their DAAD case, and worse about paying their Lawyer even more money to take appeal it to Court, only to lose again. The honest truth is that I’ve never seen a Denial brought in by a new Client that would have ever been overturned on an appeal to Court. As a general rule, if a person files a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Appeal with a Lawyer, no matter who that is (including me), and then loses, the fault most likely lies with the Lawyer for not catching whatever caused the Appeal to lose in the first place. Beyond the fact that an appeal to Court is NOT an opportunity to correct mistakes made the first time around, why would anyone pay more money to the person who made those mistakes to begin with?

Second, try and do it right the first time. I imagine all the money a person saved by trying a “do-it-yourself” License Restoration, or by hiring some lowball, bargain Lawyer is of little comfort to them when they call me, ready to pay my Fee, and find out that I can’t help them. There is an irony in this, as well. As much as someone will look for a “deal” on a Lawyer, or try and save money by filing a “do-it-yourself” License Appeal, once they lose, they have no reservations about hiring a specialist to get them back on the road. If I were willing to take their money, they couldn’t pay me fast enough.

Except it doesn’t work that way.

When a person files a Michigan License Restoration Appeal and loses, they’re generally stuck until next year. I do not do Circuit Court Appeals where anyone has either tried on their own, or with another Lawyer, or then lost. And to be honest, I’d probably have to spend hundreds of hours reading all kinds of losing decisions before I’d ever find one that would be worth pursuing. Its just not worth it.

Nevertheless, I can repeat this countless times, but my phone will still ring with calls from exactly the people I’m writing about. Had they taken the time to read enough o my blog articles before they filed, or spent some time reading about Michigan Driver’s License Appeals on my website, they might have hired me, and would be calling my Office to thank me, rather than call to find out if I can do anything about their loss.

I think I have a pretty good handle on how this plays out. The person, whether they tried it alone, or with a Lawyer, opens their mail, discovers they’ve lost their License Restoration Appeal, and then hops on the computer to do some research. They find my site, or this blog. They are angry, anxious, disappointed and hopeful. They see that I’ve written quite a bit about License Appeals, and, without reading much, or even any of what I’ve published, figure “this is the guy,” and then call me. That’s okay. The die was cast at my birth: I’m a hopeless “nice guy.” I’ll answer their questions and explain things to them. I have the nicest, most helpful and informative staff anywhere, and they’ll be glad to explain things as well.

In the end, the person will just have to accept that they’re going to be bumming rides for the next year, and will have to wait that long to go back to the DAAD. If they’re really and truly Sober, and they allow me to help them get it right next time, I can get them back on the road, when their year is up.

As the suit guy says, “I Guarantee it.”