Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration – Out of State Issues

In this short article, I want to examine how I do license reinstatement cases for out-of-state residents who need clearance of a Michigan hold upon their driving record. In the previous article, I explained how I do driver’s license restorations for Michigan residents.  Here, we’ll look at how I use that same process, in a slightly modified way, for people who live elsewhere.  In terms of the restoration of a Michigan driver’s license, proving sobriety is the absolute key to success in any case where a person’s license has been revoked for multiple DUI convictions.  Given a genuinely sober client, I guarantee to win the clearance of Michigan Secretary of State’s hold in the same way that I guarantee a win in every driver’s license restoration case I take.  Pushing aside all the legal mumbo-jumbo, there is a very simple litmus test to determine who makes the cut: If you have really quit drinking, then you know how very different your life is today than it was back then.  The transition from drinker to non-drinker is profound, and it affects pretty much everything, from the way you feel physically, emotionally and even spiritually, to who is a part of your life and how you get along with them, and even your financial well-being.  If this describes you, then you’re in.  If not, then we’ve got to get you there.

michigan-clip-art-cliparts-co-LK0ivT-clipart-292x300As part of the metamorphosis that one goes through while getting sober, people sometimes move out of state.  While some leave to take advantage of better opportunities (and often better weather; 3 of the 6 license appeal hearings I held the week this article was written were for people who had moved to warmer climates), some people move in order to get away from bad influences, or to start fresh.  For all the things one can leave behind, however, the revocation of a Michigan driver’s license or driving privileges is not one of them, and it will follow, thereby preventing a person from getting a new license in another state.  Once in a while, I’ll encounter someone who was lucky enough to get an out-of-state license years ago, but cannot now renew it because he or she has finally been snared by the National Driving Register (the official NDR is the National Driving Register, not the similarly, but deceptively named commercial website using the name “National Driving Registry”).  At the end of the day, however, the fix to get back on the road remains here in Michigan, so let’s see how I make it happen.

The reader should first read both part 1 and part 2 of the previous article about how I do Michigan driver’s license restoration appeals.  Quite literally, everything in those articles applies here except the timing of the substance abuse evaluation.  In fact, the ONLY difference between the way I do license restoration cases for Michigan residents and clearance cases for those who now live out of state is that when people come from far away to see me (even those who live in Michigan), we always arrange it so that they have their substance abuse evaluation scheduled for that same day, and will leave our first appointment and go directly to the evaluator’s office.  Beyond the “how” I do this way is the all-important reason of why I do it this way…

As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I receive tons of emails from people who want to win back their driver’s license, or who need a clearance of Michigan’s hold on their driving record so they can get (or renew) a license out of state.  Many of these email messages are long, and recount the history of a person’s DUI convictions, and/or go on to explain how much they need a driver’s license.  As I read them, my eyes are searching for one thing – mention of sobriety.  All to often, people who send me a long story without any mention of quitting drinking or sobriety don’t pan out to be good candidates to win a license restoration or clearance appeal case.  The point I really want to make in this short and simple article is that sobriety is the absolute first and most important thing –  the real “meat and potatoes” – of a Michigan driver’s license restoration or out-of-state clearance case.

qwd-202x300I have written more about the license appeal process than everything else out there combined.  I haven’t seen much about the sobriety requirement on other legal websites.  By contrast, you would have to try hard to miss it on my site or in any of my articles.  Even the quickest glance at my stuff makes clear that you must have quit drinking in order to win a license appeal.  I provide a first time win guarantee in every case I take.  Yet even in the relevant (although short) guarantee sections of my website, I make clear that sobriety is a non-negotiable requirement.  Experience has convinced me that some people just look at the sheer volume of information I have put out about driver’s license appeals and just figure, “he’s the guy,” without taking the time to read any of my stuff.  If they did, they’d see how I put sobriety front and center in everything.  The only thing I can figure is that some people simply define sobriety differently.  This is an important point because, legally speaking, there is no flexibility here:  The rule set forth by the Michigan Secretary of State, through its Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) states that a license appeal “shall not” be granted unless the person proves that his or her alcohol problem is “under control” and, more important, is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that a person is a safe bet to never drink again.

There is no room in here for the misguided idea of having the occasional drink at home, or a toast at a wedding, or anything else.  The state requires “clear and convincing evidence” to prove you’ve quit drinking, sworn off alcohol for good, and have the commitment and the tools to stay sober for life.  Anything less is not enough, and the hearing officer is required to deny the appeal if you can’t prove that.  In fact, the rule governing these cases specifically begins by reminding the hearing officer that he or she is under a negative mandate to look for the reason(s) to deny an appeal, because it begins with this language: The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence…” [that the person’s alcohol problem is under control and likely to remain under control].  Beyond denying anyone who so much as entertains the possibility of ever drinking again, the whole point of the license appeal process is to examine a person to make sure that, beyond just saying as much, he or she really does live, and is otherwise genuinely committed to, life without alcohol.

Within the more than 360 license restoration articles (as of this writing) I have put up on my blog, only a few have ever explored what goes on at an actual license appeal hearing.  I think that it’s about time to revisit this subject.  As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I attend and conduct license hearings all the time. Indeed, I have 5 scheduled for next week alone.  It is understandable that people tend to think of their hearing as the climax of the license appeal or clearance process.  In truth, however, while it may feel that way, the hearing is actually not the apex of the license restoration or clearance process, and that’s a key point I want to address in this article.

scales-justice-legal-lady-liberty-233x300As important as the hearing is in any license case, it is really the preparation for it that matters even more.  Just a few days ago, as I was “prepping” my client for his hearing the next day, I told him that the proceeding itself would likely be rather short, and that we had probably spent more time preparing for it than we would actually spend in it.  I was right, and in less than a half hour, my client left the hearing room having won back his privilege to drive again.  This may sound trite, but the simple fact is, if you’re going in there to tell the truth, then the hearing isn’t that big a deal after all.  In the context of a license appeal, the Michigan Secretary of State requires you to prove, by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence,” 2 things: First, that your alcohol (and/or substance abuse) problem is “under control,” meaning that you can fix a sobriety date, and then second (and even more important), that your alcohol (and/or substance abuse) problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that you have really quit drinking for good and are a safe bet to not drink again.  If you want to cut right to the heart of the matter, this all means that sobriety is really the “meat and potatoes” of a driver’s license appeal case.  In a word, sobriety is everything.

Here’s why I say the hearing isn’t such a big deal:  I will only take cases for people who are genuinely sober, but in exchange, I guarantee to win every case I take.  When a person has truly gone through the profound transformation from drinker to non-drinker, then the hearing becomes an opportunity to talk about that.  Getting sober isn’t something you can fake, nor is explaining your recovery journey like standing in front of the class, taking some math test where you have to remember calculations and rules.  In a license appeal hearing, it’s you telling your own story, and details aren’t a problem when you tell the truth.  If I’m your lawyer, I’m right there with you, to help.  “Help,” in that sense, means that I ask you questions and make sure that your answers are complete and see to it that your nerves don’t get the best of you.  If you forget or otherwise misstate something, I’m there to make sure we back up and get it right, or otherwise clarify it.  Part and parcel of my job is to have your case memorized, from your sobriety date to who your letter writers are and what they have said about you, and when I walk into that hearing room with you, I sure as hell do.   Let’s turn, now, to how this all plays out in the hearing room…

In my roles as a Michigan criminal, driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyer, I have always tried to keep my fees reasonable.  That said, I have never sought to compete with the bargain lawyers, as the level of service that I provide (and which should and does translate into tangible results) is much different from theirs.  For example, I guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration case I take.  Recently, however, health insurance costs have gone way up, essentially becoming the straw that broke the camel’s back in my office, because over the last few years, everything else has gone up, as well.  I’ve held the line on costs until now, but since mine have gone up again, so too, will my fees, although only modestly.  I’m out to cover my increased costs, not build a new vacation home.  While most lawyers don’t go anywhere near publishing their fees or writing anything about them, I do.  That I list my fees in the first place makes me very different from every other lawyer I know; that I’d put up an article announcing and explaining a price increase is yet another way that I’m different, but I wouldn’t do things any other way.  Personally, I won’t do business with any operation that hides its prices or is secretive about costs, and given that one of the current, in-vogue buzzwords is transparency, I think an article about prices is necessary and, well, transparent.

left-feesYou know the old saying, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch?”  Well, it’s not only true, it is an axiom of commerce.  Nobody gives anything away for free.  There is always a motive.  Even if you stop into a furniture store to fill out a card to enter a raffle for a free couch with a “no purchase necessary” disclaimer, the store figures that the cost of one (and you can count on this, it’s not a top-of-the-line model) couch is more than worth bringing hundreds of people into the showroom and have them walk all the way to the back, past all the other furniture, to enter the contest.  Over time, they will clean up on impulse buys that make the cost of the couch well worth it.  I’m no different.  I’m a nice guy, as honest as can be, and have my own motivation for being transparent, but I’m also perfectly glad to share it.  I figure that, by listing my prices, I can save my staff and I lots of time not having to deal with time-wasters and bargain hunters looking for a cheap lawyer.  In fact, just about anyone who emails and inquires “How much do you charge,” beyond having missed the fees I list on both my blog and website, almost certainly can’t afford the services I provide, either.  Hiring a lawyer, at least for the kinds of work I do, is kind of like hiring a laser eye surgeon to fix your vision, or a plastic surgeon to do some cosmetic work:  You can find bargains, and you can find cheap, but you will NEVER find the best in class using those criteria.  That goes for everything.

Of course, you can overpay for a lawyer, as well.  Anything near a $10,000 DUI, for example (regardless of whether it’s a 1st, 2nd or 3rd  offense) is, in my opinion, grossly excessive – unless it results in all charges being dropped.  Given that only about .17 percent of all DUI and DUI-related arrests result in an acquittal after trial, good luck with that (this, in part, accounts for why I attract a disproportionately high number of 2nd offense DUI cases; those clients are experienced, educated consumers and they identify with my candid and direct approach).  Always remember that when you hire a lawyer, you are paying for someone to go make your situation better.  Anybody can promise the world, make everything sound like it will all get dismissed, assure a great outcome, and then do all kinds of work.  The question becomes what work is actually helpful and/or necessary, and the answer involves making sure your lawyer charges enough to thoroughly examine the evidence first (that’s not going to happen with a cut-rate lawyer), and then challenges it when doing so is appropriate, and likely to improve your case, rather than just doing so in a shotgun approach that is really just “busy work” to justify the fee you’ve paid.  These tactics, while making a person feel like they’ve gotten a lot of work for their money, do tend to backfire with the court and cost a lot goodwill.  Judges know who is out to take people for a ride.  Yet for all of that, however, what am I doing with my prices?

In my practice as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, nearly half of my clients are people who need a clearance of a Michigan hold on their driving records because they now live out of state.  In the old days (whenever that was), a person could have a suspended or revoked driver’s license in one state and move to another and still get a new license.  That’s not the case anymore.  Over the last several years, I’ve cleaned up most of the remaining “dinosaurs” that were able to do that despite having had their license revoked by the Michigan Secretary of State – only to find out later that they couldn’t renew that out-of-state license because the Michigan hold had finally caught up with them, courtesy of the National Driving Register (NOT to be confused with the sound-alike, but commercial and unofficial “national driving registry” site).

shopping 1.2The National Driving Register (NDR) is a national database maintained by NHTSA (The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration) where, amongst other things, license revocations and suspensions are centrally recorded to prevent someone from skirting the laws of one state by obtaining a driver’s license in another.  It took a long time to become operational but it’s here to stay now.  This is undoubtedly bad news for anyone with a license hold, but the public certainly does not want a system that allows a repeat offense drunk driver whose license has been taken away in one state to just go to another and be “legal” again.  We could analyze this to death, but the simple fact is that it’s rather likely that you’re reading this because you (or someone you care about) is dealing with a Michigan hold and needs it cleared.  I can help you clear it, but if, and only if, you have honestly quit drinking.  Sobriety is the key to resolving Michigan driver’s license revocations.

The technical term for getting rid of a Michigan hold on your driving record is to obtain a “clearance.”  There is no difference, procedurally, between a regular driver’s license restoration case and one filed to clear a hold on your driving record, except in terms of the relief you’re seeking.  In a restoration case, you are asking for the return of your Michigan license (meaning a restoration).  In a clearance appeal, you are asking for a removal of the Michigan hold (meaning, not surprisingly, a clearance) so you can get a license in another state.  To be eligible for a clearance, you first have to prove that you have relocated to another state, but this is not much of a problem, even for people who have only very recently moved out.  Of course, in order to win either a restoration of your license or a clearance of Michigan’s hold, you must prove that you are sober, as well.  Many of my out-of-state clients have previously tried (and lost) what is called an “administrative review,” which is an appeal by mail (there is no hearing) and as close to a guaranteed loser as you can get.  Statistically, only 1 out of 4 of them ever win, and no one can say how many times those who do eventually win have tried before they succeed.  If you’re serious about driving again and don’t want to keep losing, then you’ll have to come back to Michigan to take care of this business the right way.  At least with my win guarantee, if I’m your lawyer, you’ll only have to do this once…

Everyone knows that it’s difficult to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case (or obtain the clearance of a Michigan hold on a driving record) after multiple DUI convictions.  There is, however, a LOT of misunderstanding out there about how the license appeal process works and why winning is so hard.  In this article, I want to clear up a few things about that.  In many of my other driver’s license restoration articles on this blog, as well as in the license restoration section of my website, I undertake a close-up examination of the issues and steps involved in the license appeal process.  Here, I want to take a step back from that and look at the bigger picture.  Winning licenses back is so routine to me that I guarantee to win every license restoration case I take, but that’s because I completely understand the process and know precisely who it’s designed to keep out of the driver’s seat.  And make no mistake, the license restoration process was intentionally designed to deny most appeals.

metricdriven-product-management-producthuntto-17-638We must begin with the simple but important truth that the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) is supposed to refuse to return a license to anyone who still drinks alcohol.  The SOS knows that everyone “needs” a license; everyone understands that it’s hard to get by without one, but none of that matters in terms of who can win a license back.  The state sees anyone with multiple DUI convictions as a high risk (too high a risk), and is not willing to consider putting that person back on the road again until he or she can prove they’ve become genuinely sober, as in completely alcohol-free.  I get loads of calls from people who want to explain that they can safely enjoy the occasional drink and are no longer any kind of risk on the road and blah blah blahThe state does not buy any of that.  A person can argue all he or she wants about how the system is unfair, but unless you play by the rules already in place, you’re simply wasting your breath.  In fact, the primary reason I guarantee to win every license appeal I file is that I will ONLY accept cases for people who are honestly, genuinely and really sober and have given up any of the “I can still have a glass of wine (or a beer) every once in a while” stuff.  And that brings us right to the heart of the matter; license appeals are hard because they are designed to be hard.

Statistically speaking, more than 95% of all alcoholics are unable to accumulate any kind of long-term abstinence.  Of course, a lot of people with 2 DUI’s will say, “But I’m NOT an alcoholic!”  Perhaps not, but then again, maybe so; it doesn’t really matter what you or I think, because if you want to win back your license, you have to play by the state’s rules (not that the state says everyone with 2 DUI’s is an alcoholic).  However, anyone who has had his or her license revoked for 2 or more DUI’s is legally categorized by the state as a “habitual alcohol offender.”  Skipping all the go-nowhere discussion about definitions here, you can just take that to mean that the state sees you as having a problem with alcohol, even if that “problem” is that you have a demonstrably increased risk to make bad decisions (like getting behind the wheel) some of the times you drink, as evidenced by your driving record.  The state is not willing to bet that someone has somehow improved his or her decision making skills enough, after drinking, to ever give him or her a license back.  Instead, under the rules, after a person’s license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s, the only way for him or her to ever legally drive again is to prove that he or she has quit drinking for good, because people who do not drink do not drink and drive.  And that’s the easy part of why things are so hard…

Many, if not most, of my out-of-state clients who hire me for a Michigan driver’s license clearance case have previously tried and lost an administrative review filed with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS).  Virtually all of these “do-it-yourself” attempts are made without a lawyer.  For as many years as I have been a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I have pretty much learned that most people who hire me for a clearance will do so after having first taken a shot at it on their own.  Accordingly, I don’t waste any time trying to convince someone that he or she shouldn’t try it, but rather just reassure him or her that I’m here if and when things don’t work out.  In this article, I want to remind the reader just how much these “appeals by mail” are statistically doomed and why, if you really want to win a clearance of Michigan’s hold on your driving record, you need to come back to Michigan for a live hearing.  Of course, it is a necessary first requirement to winning a license or clearance appeal that you have honestly quit drinking and are genuinely sober.  If you at least have that, then read on.

Julio_Signals_EMBL-e1441896917423For everything there is to back up these numbers, the plain and simple fact is that about 3 out of 4 administrative reviews are denied.  That means that anyone who thinks about going this route needs to also think seriously about how a 1 out of 4 chance of winning sounds.  Worse yet, you cannot file another new appeal for an entire year, although this is often a source of confusion because a person who is denied can request a hearing to review that denial, although no new evidence can be presented, and that hearing is not “another chance” to plead your case, but rather an opportunity to prove that the first decision was unlawful, which explains why I’ve NEVER seen one of those appeals succeed.  Think of it this way, if you have a 3 out of 4 chance of losing by mail the first time, then you have about a 99.9 out of 100 chance of losing at an appeal which essentially considers whether that initial denial was legal or not.  If luck has anything to do with it, a person should realize that he or she is not on any kind of roll coming off that first loss to begin with.

In some of my other driver’s license restoration blog articles, I explain why I will never do video hearings in any of my license appeal cases.  Even though the local SOS branch office with a video terminal closest to my office is LESS than 5 minutes away, I will gladly drive nearly an hour to conduct my hearings live, and in-person, at the Livonia (Metro-Detroit area) hearings office.  It should be obvious that if I won’t avail myself of the incredible convenience of a nearby video hearing because I think it is so inferior to a live proceeding, I certainly don’t believe in any kind of case being decided with no hearing at all.  To fully understand why an administrative review is about as bad an idea as seeking financial advice at a homeless shelter, you need to know a few important facts about the whole license appeal process, beginning with the very rule under which every single clearance and restoration case is decided, known as “Rule 13.”

In part 1 of this article, I began my updated examination of the Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Office (AHS) hearing officers who staff the Livonia hearing office, and who decide all the Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals that I file, as well as the seemingly ever-growing number of ignition interlock violations that come about. In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I appear before these same people day-in and day-out, and I have come to know how each perceives case evidence like the substance abuse evaluation and the letters of support. The same piece of such evidence may be interpreted differently by one hearing officer over another, and this is something you better know before your hearing. Part of the reason I provide a guarantee to win every case I take is that I always start with a genuinely sober client whose recovery is exactly what is contemplated as the “meat and potatoes” of a license appeal, and I wind up at the hearing conducted by a hearing officer whose idiosyncrasies I know well.

5661262_orig.jpgThis is important stuff, but as I hope the reader gleans, it’s certainly second, or subordinate, to your being genuinely sober. I know these hearing officers as well as anyone, and I daresay I see them far more than just about any other lawyer, but none of that matters a bit if a person has not honestly adopted an alcohol-free lifestyle. I mention this because for all the time I’ve spent detailing how I know the hearing officers, they have come to know me, as well. There is no single case, and no amount of money that would tempt me to ruin my reputation for honesty in their eyes. It is often and wisely noted that it takes a lifetime to build and maintain a good reputation, but it only takes one stupid thing to destroy it. I strive to be the best lawyer I can be, but I’d much rather be known and trusted as honest, yet of only average skill, than I’d ever want to be known as incredibly talented, but not trustworthy. Not all of my license restoration or clearance appeal cases are perfect, but none of them is bogus, or based upon false information, and that’s why I have my guarantee. We covered 2 of the hearing officers in the first part of this article; now, let’s look at the other 3.

The New Nice Guy. This hearing officer is also a new to the Livonia lineup since my 2011 article, and I struggled to find a better description for him than “The New Nice Guy,” especially because the hearing officer nicknamed “The Nice Guy” in the earlier article is still there, and still nice, but to overlook The New Nice Guy’s natural kindness would be like trying to ignore the horn on a unicorn. Before becoming a lawyer, this hearing officer was a police officer in the Metro-Detroit area. This means he knows how to handle people, question people, and size them up, and he knows how to do that as a matter of instinct, and without hesitation. Consistently friendly and pleasant, it doesn’t take long to realize that he doesn’t miss a thing – ever. I pride myself on being perceptive, but I realize that I’m lucky just to be perceptive enough to see how much more perceptive he is. It’s kind of like having Sherlock Holmes as a hearing officer, except The New Nice Guy has a big heart. Perhaps because of his police training, his questions are never asked just to fill time, and are always directly responsive to the case before him. What’s obvious through his questions is that they cut to the heart of the matter and probe whether the person really is sober or not. In that sense, it’s almost like he has a built-in truth meter. This is obviously good for anyone who has genuinely quit drinking, but likely a deal breaker for anyone who is not. One of his more interesting traits is the ability to get to the core of an issue with only a few questions. Again, this isn’t trouble for anyone who is really sober, but I can only imagine that it’s sheer torture for anyone trying to pull a fast one. Still, for all of his skill, it is obvious that The New Nice Guy puts his heart into trying to discover the truth, and do the right thing.

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My job as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer involves a lot of license appeal hearings. Back in 2011, I put up a 2-part blog installment entitled “Driver’s License Restoration Appeals in Michigan – Know Your Hearing Officer.” This 2-part article will be a timely update of that article, because there has been a couple of changes to the lineup of the Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) hearing officers in Livonia, where my cases are heard, and because, frankly, it’s time to refresh this very important subject anyway. The hearing officer is to a license reinstatement case what a conductor is to a classical orchestra. When you look at either a license appeal case or orchestral composition, everything is on paper, and, in a sense, both the rules of a license appeal and the music in a symphony are spelled out clearly, in black and white. A piece of music is what it is, but one conductor may have the orchestra play a passage faster, or more loudly, than another maestro. In the same way, each hearing officer sees things a little differently than the others, and each finds certain particular evidentiary points more important than his or her colleagues. In other words, each conductor and each hearing officer interprets what’s in front of him or her in their own unique way. In a license appeal case, understanding how that works is critical to winning.

question-mark-face.pngIn a Michigan license restoration or clearance appeal case, the 2 main things you must prove are that your alcohol problem is “under control” and that your alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control.” “Under control” means that you haven’t had a drink for at least a year; I explain this by saying that you have to “fix” a sobriety date, even if you only know the month and year (for example, by saying something like, “June of 2011”). In my practice, I generally want a person to have been sober for at least 2 years, and I much prefer at least 3, and even more. “Likely to remain under control” essentially means that you are a safe bet to never drink again, which entails proving you have both the commitment and the tools to live an alcohol-free lifestyle. There is a lot more to a license appeal than this, but at least we have a frame of reference to start. Proving these things is primarily done by submitting letters of support and a substance abuse evaluation. How the hearing officer assigned to your case interprets this (and all the other) evidence is really fundamental to its outcome.

I have all my license appeal hearings set at the AHS office in Livonia, where there are 5 hearing officers. Because of the sheer volume of license appeals I handle, I wind up before the same hearing officers again and again – and again. I get to really know how they do things, and I am very familiar with the things they have in common, as well as the idiosyncrasies that makes a hearing before one of them different from a hearing before anyone of the others. This is important to me because the specific hearing officer assigned to your case significantly affects how we’ll prepare for it. Beyond the various evidentiary or legal points in any given case that may be more or less important to one hearing officer over another, the way each hearing officer conducts a hearing is unique to him or her, as well. I simply cannot imagine a client walking into the hearing room without having been prepared for exactly what is going to happen, how the hearing is going to play out, what questions are going to be asked, and by whom. That last part is important because as it stands now, 3 of the 5 hearing officers prefer that the lawyer ask most of the questions. By contrast, and less than 3 years ago, standard operating procedure was for the hearing officer to ask most of the questions, so the whole idea of who will be asking the questions is now an important part of the hearing process and preparation for it. Therefore, when I know that I’ll be asking most of the questions, I have to remember to include those that are of particular interest to the specific hearing officer deciding the case. In other words, even the questions that I ask changes somewhat from hearing officer to hearing officer.
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An important part of my job as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer is determining when a person can and when he or she should file a license appeal. In 2 very recent articles, I examined the whole idea of needing a license and the distinction between being able to file the case as opposed to ready to win it. Usually, it’s just easier to skip all of the analysis of eligibility and have me read over a driving record. I ALWAYS do that for free. All I need to know before I look at a record is whether or not the person has quit drinking. If you are unsure about your eligibility to file a license appeal, the advisability of doing so now, or doing so sooner, rather than later, you can just bypass all the confusion and send me your driving record. I can look over the most complicated record there is, and in a few minutes know exactly what to do, and when. In this very short article, I want to take a quick look at driving records in the context of Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals.

michigan-basic-driver-improvement-course-reviews.jpgGetting your driving record is not hard, but if there is one big point I want the reader to take from this article, it’s that you should always – and only – get an official driving record through the Michigan Secretary of State. DO NOT, and I repeat here – DO NOT ever get your driving (or criminal) record through any online service other than that offered by the State of Michigan. The SOS charges $9 if you mail in the request form, and $8 if you show up at a branch office to obtain a copy of your record. This isn’t about money, though, because even though all the “services” out there charge more than you’d pay for an official copy of your record, they very often provide inaccurate and/or incomplete information on those records. Understand that every official action that affects your driving record, meaning every bit of information accessed or submitted by a police agency, court, or the Secretary of State itself is obtained from or placed upon your official state driving record. This means that everyone who matters uses and reads the official format of your record. No one in any official capacity will ever look at or use anything other than your official Michigan Secretary of State driving record.

Every non-official record I’ve ever seen comes from a national company, meaning that they take Michigan’s information and instead of understanding or using the state’s legal and technical terms, will instead apply generic terms used elsewhere as they try to reassemble and understand what’s on the official record. To me, that’s like having the option to buy the official HD Blu Ray of your favorite movie for $9, or a crappy bootleg copy of it for $12. About the best example I can use is that in most states, driver’s licenses are issued by a DMV, or Department of Motor Vehicles. In Michigan, we don’t have that; instead our equivalent of a DMV is the Michigan Secretary of State. And while I go along with the flow and, like everyone else, use the term “DUI” for a drunk driving, the offense in Michigan is technically called OWI, or Operating While Intoxicated. We do not have any such offense as DUI, DWI, DUIL or OUI in Michigan. Given that pretty much no other state except Michigan uses the term OWI for drunk driving, it’s not surprising that these internet driving record operations use the more common, but incorrect terms like DUI and DWI on their reports. In the real world, that’s about as helpful as getting the assembly instructions for the a completely different product than the one you bought.
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