The Steps in a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration or Clearance – Short Version

A person who picks up 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 or more within 10 years will have his or her Driver’s License Revoked by the Michigan Secretary of State. A Revoked License is different than a Suspended License. Usually, a License is Suspended for a certain, definite period of time, or until money is paid. When a License is Revoked, a person cannot legally drive again until they get approval from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) for Restoration of their driving privileges. A person can NEVER just go to Court to Restore a License that has been Revoked.

The only way for a person to win back a License that was Revoked for multiple DUI’s is to wait until they are legally eligible (1 year minimum for 2 DUI’s within 7 years; 5 years minimum for 3 DUI’s within 10 years) and then file a Petition for a Driver’s License Restoration with the DAAD. There is nothing that can be done to shorten the period of Revocation. Beyond the necessary passage of time, a person must be really and truly Sober to win their License back

Red Car 2.2.jpgPart of being a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer is fielding questions from people who provide all kinds of compelling reasons why they need to drive – work, school, or medical necessity for them, or their children or even parents. Often, these long stories end by asking, “Is there any way I can just get some kind of Restricted License?”

There isn’t. Revoked is Revoked.

The License Restoration process cannot begin until the minimum period of Revocation has passed. There are a million little details involved in this process, but only a few actual steps. I have written a library full of articles on just about every facet of Michigan Driver’s License Appeals, and a person can spend a lot of time reading them and learning. My point in this article is to reduce this incredibly complex and detailed process to its most basic elements.

Once a License is Revoked for multiple DUI’s, it is gone until a person wins it back after a Hearing in front of the Secretary of State’s DAAD. A person must wait the minimum period of time of that Revocation before they can start the License Appeal process. Beyond just waiting the minimum period of time to file, a person must be prepared to prove several issues, outlined in DAAD Rule 13. Amongst them, the two things that matter most in any License Appeal are that:

  1. The person’s alcohol problem is under control, and
  2. The person’s alcohol problem is likely to remain under control.

The second issue is the hardest to prove, and is undoubtedly the single biggest reason most Appeals are Denied. Ultimately, “proving” this issue means a person must demonstrate to the state that they are a safe bet to remain alcohol-free, almost as if the Hearing Officer were to say to them, “I need to be convinced that you are convinced that you can never drink again.”

On top of this, all the evidence a person submits as part of their License Appeal must amount to “Clear and Convincing Evidence.” In other words, in order to win a License Appeal, a person has to come forward and hit a home run.

A License Appeal formally begins by filing a “Request for Hearing and Substance Abuse Evaluation” form, along with notarized Letters of Support. An accredited Professional must fill out the Substance Abuse Evaluation form, and, in order to pass muster with the DAAD, it must be both legally adequate (sufficient) and contain a favorable prognosis.

The Letters of support must provide certain, specific information. The proverbial “good guy” letter is worthless. That a person is decent and good and kind, or has suffered tremendously without a License is of absolutely no evidentiary value in a License Restoration case.

Once the documents have been completed, they must be checked to make sure they are accurate, complete and favorable. Then, they are filed with the DAAD headquarters Lansing. At that point, there are several options, depending on where a person lives, as to where, and even if a Hearing is held.

Anyone who is a Michigan resident must show up for an actual License Appeal Hearing. If a person lives near the DAAD Hearing Offices in either Livonia, Lansing, or Grand Rapids, they will be scheduled to appear for a live, in-person Hearing. If they live closer to a Secretary of State Branch Office with video hookup capabilities, they will be scheduled to appear for a video Hearing, which is pretty much a closed-circuit, webcam kind of deal connecting them to a Hearing Officer from one of the 3 Hearing Offices.

I never have and never will conduct a video Hearing. I truly believe that they are completely inferior to face-to-face Hearings. I have all of my cases scheduled for live, in-person Hearings in Livonia, which is about an hour’s drive from my Office in Mt. Clemens. To put this in perspective, there is a Secretary of State Branch Office with a video terminal straight down the road, about 4 minutes away, from my Office. I could easily elect to have any of my cases done there, but I would never even consider it.

Those who have moved out of the state of Michigan, but find themselves with a Michigan “Hold” upon their Driving Record, can skip having to come back for a Hearing, and can file a kind of Appeal by mail, called an Administrative Review. Instead of answering live questions, a person completes an affidavit that fixes their answers to certain questions and is reviewed by a Hearing Officer. As a matter of record, 75% (3 out of 4) of all Administrative Appeals lose.

Obviously, I don’t advise anyone taking this route, but many of my Clients are people who have tried this route before, lost, and then grown tired of bumming rides.

Thus, almost everyone who really wants to get back on the road will eventually wind up at a License Appeal Restoration Hearing of some sort. They will need to be prepared for the questions of the particular Hearing Officer to whom their case has been assigned. If a person opts for a video Hearing, the case will be randomly assigned to a Hearing Officer in one of the 3 Hearing Offices. Because I have every case I handle scheduled for a Hearing in Livonia, and have appeared before these Hearing Officers countless times, I know what each will look for in any given case, and will prepare my Client accordingly.

The end result of the Hearing for a Michigan resident is a decision either granting a Restricted License, or Denying the Appeal altogether.

Non-residents cannot win any kind of Michigan License; instead, they either win a “Clearance,” which removes Michigan’s Hold on their Driving Record and allows them to get a Full License in their new state, or not. As the numbers go, it’s far more likely that they will get the “or not” rather than the Clearance, and will have to gear up for another Appeal the following year.

The number of steps is manageable, but the details involved are demanding. In this article, we’ve skipped over the details, but have listed the steps as follows:

1. Confirming eligibility to file a License Appeal 2. Completion of a Substance Abuse Evaluation 3. Drafting of Letters of Support 4. Filing the Evaluation, Letters and Hearing Request
5. Attending the Hearing 6. Receiving the Decision

As part of my Practice as a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer, I offer a win Guarantee. This means I put my money where my mouth is, and bank on getting my Client back on the road the first time.