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

A lot of our clients hire us after having first tried – and then lost – a “do-it-yourself” driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case. When they call our office, they’re biggest concern is when they can get started on a new appeal. They already know, from experience, how complicated the Michigan license appeal process can be. In many cases it’s actually easier for us to deal with people after they’ve tried and lost, rather than attempting to dissuade them beforehand by warning of all the risks of a DIY license appeal.

The DIY Michigan license appeal case is a disaster in the makingIn truth, this is a key reason why we never discourage anyone from handling their own case. Over the last 30-plus years, we’ve represented thousands of clients who’ve had to find out the hard way about some of the obscure aspect or other of the Michigan license appeal process that even most lawyers don’t know. For as many “do-it-yourself” clients as we get, plenty also come to us after having hired some lawyer whose practice, unlike ours, is NOT specifically focused on license restoration cases, and then losing.

There are certain things that anyone who undertakes a Michigan license appeal should both understand and be able to explain without so much as a second thought. If not, then he or she is pretty much running head-first into a loss. Let’s start with something that’s obvious: Most people are seriously inconvenienced if they’re unable to drive. As one hearing officer says, “everybody needs a license.” As we’ll see, however, needing a license has absolutely nothing to do with being able to win it back after it has been revoked for multiple DUI convictions.

Anyone who has a Michigan hold on his or her driving record needs what’s called a clearance to get it off. That hold will prevent a person from either obtaining or renewing a license in another state. Our firm handles about 200 license appeal cases each year. Nearly half of our clients are people who live outside of Michigan and need a clearance. A driver’s license restoration case and a clearance appeal case are essentially identical, except for the final result.

A clearance removes a Michigan hold on your driving record so that you can get a license in another state.When a person wins a restoration case, his or her Michigan driver’s license is restored. By contrast, when a person wins a clearance case, the Michigan Secretary of State releases its hold on his or her driving record. By doing so, the person’s record gets “cleared,” and then he or she can either get or renew a license in their home state. Understandably, no state can grant driving privileges in another state. In other words, Michigan can’t grant an Arizona or Florida license. All it can do is get out of the way for them to be able to do so.

Legally, a person can file a “do-it-yourself” kind of clearance appeal called an Administrative Review. Statistically speaking, 3 out of every 4 of these are denied. Moreover, there’s no way to determine how many of the people who eventually do win have tried before. Put another way, an Administrative Review is basically a shortcut to losing. Before the reader thinks, “Of course he’s going to say that, otherwise he won’t get the business,” let me explain.

In our daily work as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I have contact with loads of people interested in a license appeal. Everyone who loses his or her license for multiple DUI’s wants to win it back. Thus, it’s no surprise for us to hear from so many people who want their driving privileges restored. The task for us is to screen out those who don’t meet the Michigan Secretary of State’s legal requirements to qualify. In this article, we’ll look at who can (and can’t) win a driver’s license restoration or clearance case.

<img src="driver's license.jpg" alt="Smiling woman won her Michigan driver's license restoration. ">In order to win a license appeal, a person must not only be legally eligible, he or she must also be genuinely sober, as well. A hungry lawyer can accept anyone’s case, and take his or her money for it, as well, but precisely because our firm guarantees to win every restoration and clearance appeal case we accept, we can’t – and won’t – do that. Instead, we’ll only accept a case that we know we can make into a winner.

That means we have to pass on a lot of Michigan driver’s license restoration cases that can’t be won, despite the potential client being willing to pay our fee. Ultimately, a person gives his or her trust to a lawyer every bit as much as their money. How any attorney could accept payment without knowing (and guaranteeing) that he or she can win the client’s license back is a mystery to us. Of course, our firm is in business to earn living, but we count on doing that by winning our license appeal cases the first time around.

As full-time driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I can clear a Michigan hold off of your driving record. We handle A LOT of cases for people who can’t get a license in another state because of a Michigan hold. In a typical year, our firm handles over 200 license matters, with more than 1/3 of those being for people who live don’t live here. When someone who lives out of state has a Michigan hold on his or her driving record, the only way to get it released is by obtaining what’s called a “clearance” from the Michigan Secretary of State. In this article, we’ll examine the clearance process and see how that gets done.

<img src="license.jpg" alt="We can clear your Michigan driver's license hold. ">A driver’s license clearance appeal is, in almost every way, the same thing as a regular driver’s license restoration appeal. The primary difference is in the final result: When you win a driver’s license restoration case, you back a Michigan driver’s license. When you win a clearance appeal, which requires proving your residency in another state, the Secretary of State will simply clear the Michigan hold off of your driving record. This will allow the state where you now resides to issue a license. A state can only issue a driver’s license to someone who legally resides within it.

There is one other potential difference between a restoration and a clearance case: Every Michigan resident seeking the reinstatement of his or her driving privileges must attend a formal appeal hearing (this is done virtually now), whereas people who live out of state and just want to clear a Michigan hold can elect NOT to do that. Instead, they can waive the hearing, and have their case decided based entirely on the documents they submit. This is called an “administrative review,” and, in practice, it is a fast track to losing. Statistically, only about 1 in every 4 of such appeals ever wins, meaning that 3 out of 4 are denied.

If you have a Michigan hold on your driving record, it will prevent you from getting (or, in some cases, renewing) a license in another state. If that hold is from a revocation following multiple DUI’s, you won’t be able to have it removed until you win a formal driver’s license clearance appeal. As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, handling out-of-state clearance appeals is a HUGE part of our work. Out of the 200-plus license appeal matters we handle each year, over 40% of them involve clearances for people who do not live in Michigan.

vectorstock_36249759-copy-300x300In this article, we’re going to look at how a Michigan driver’s license clearance appeal should be done. My team and I are long beyond the point of just “knowing” how to do them. Instead, we have developed, implemented, and, ultimately, refined a system to handle clearance appeals that is so good, we guarantee to win every case we take (more on that later). The key to our success lies in the fact that we handle and manage every single detail and facet of every case we take, right from the start. This allows us to have complete quality control, and while that may sound boastful, it’s not; it’s just a fact.

To be blunt about it, anything less is simply not good enough. A person doesn’t lose a license appeal because he or she got 99% of it right; he or she loses because of the one thing in their case that was missed, or that wasn’t good enough, or that was just plain done wrong. Because our firm makes sure we control everything that goes into a case, we don’t have that problem. This is true even though appeals are now heard remotely, as is much of the legal work we do that goes into them.

In part 1 of this article, we began an examination of how remote meetings and remote license appeal hearings have made it much easier for people who live elsewhere to get a Michigan hold off of their driving record so that they can obtain a license in their new state. In our practice as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we have been able to things set up so that our clients can do everything with us, from the first meeting to the last – and have the required substance use evaluation completed with our evaluator – all from home.

vectorstock_11509240-274x300I also pointed out that the way the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) now conducts license appeal hearings – over a secure remote platform – is much different (and better) than how they used to be done when they were called “video hearings.”  That method sucked, and I have long been critical of them. I only ever did one such hearing, and refused to do any more that way. In fact, my team and I had always been eligible to do the old-style “video hearings” at a certain Secretary of State branch office less than 5 minutes from our office, but chose, instead, to drive nearly an hour away, just to appear for a live hearing. That should say something.

Now, a remote hearing can be done over a cell phone, and the sound and picture quality are a million times better than how they used to be when using the clunky old equipment in some side room at an SOS branch office for what was then called a “video hearing.” Given how much better remote hearings are than the old “video” hearings, I genuinely like them, and that means a lot, because our firm guarantees to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take.  Because our guarantee is on the line, you can be sure my team and I wouldn’t do anything that could or would compromise a client’s case or chances of success.

If you live elsewhere but have a Michigan hold on your driving record after 2 or more DUI convictions, then you need to clear (meaning release) it so you can get a license in your new state. This is called a “clearance,” and getting it requires a person to file the exact same documentation and evidence that he or she would submit for a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal. The really good news is that now, as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I can handle these matters entirely remotely so that a person doesn’t even have to leave the comfort of his or her home to get it done.

Clear-3-250x300This is a huge change from how things were done before the Coronavirus pandemic. For years, license appeal hearings were either held in person, or through the Michigan Secretary of State’s (SOS) closed-circuit video system, both of which required a person to come back to Michigan. Now, hearings are done over a secure remote meeting platform, allowing every participant to be in a different physical location, while all being the same virtual hearing room. This saves the time and money previously required to come back to Michigan, and has really made things convenient for those who no longer live here, but have an SOS hold on their driving record and still want to get this done the right way.

Up until recently, I had always believed in holding live license appeal hearings, rather than going with the alternative, which is to file an appeal by mail, called an “administrative review.” Statistically speaking, only 1 out of every 4 administrative reviews actually wins, meaning that 3 out of 4 of them are denied, and these numbers have always remained consistent from year to year. Moreover, nobody knows how many times those who eventually do win an administrative review have tried before and lost. Put bluntly, the odds of success for any appeal by mail just plain suck.

Getting your license back has never been more convenient! As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I never thought I’d say anything that sounded as cheesy as that, but because of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, we’re living in strange times, and a lot has changed in the legal world. In the context of license appeals, the Michigan Secretary of State has suspended in-person hearings, and is conducting them all virtually. As a consequence, our practice has likewise adapted and evolved, allowing us to do our client meetings virtually, as well.

2-300x291Before I go any further, let me clarify a small, but important point: the “virtual” hearings taking place now are NOT the same as the video hearings previously used by the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), which required a person to appear in a special video room at an SOS branch office. The sound and video quality of those hearings was terrible. The old, low-tech camera and boomy-sounding microphone sat up high on a shelf on the wall on the opposite side of the room, and produced a grainy picture with voices that sounded like they were coming from inside a giant metal can.

The online hearings of today are held using the Microsoft “Teams” app, and allow participants to log on anywhere there’s an internet connection. These are much more intimate and of far better quality than the kind of “closed circuit” system used before. I have always been vocal in my dislike of the video hearings the way they used to be done by the Secretary of State, before the pandemic. I have written numerous articles about why I would never have any of my cases heard that way, and nothing has changed about that.

The world of driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals had undergone a dramatic change because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Early on, almost all license appeals were on hold, and then the Michigan Secretary of State began offering to do some by video. Now, as of this writing, Secretary of State has announced that it will ONLY do video hearings, and that they will continue indefinitely, as we grapple with the new and evolving “normal.”

3e444-300x216This has necessitated a radical change in the way my team and I will do things in our office, as well. First and foremost, we’ll still GUARANTEE to win every first time license restoration and clearance case we take. That said, I have always preferred face-to-face meetings with clients, and live, in-person license appeal hearings, but the whole coronavirus situation requires us to put that on ice, at least for a while, until this situation passes.

For now, we’re doing client intakes and meetings by video and/or phone, but will resume meeting with people as soon as it’s allowed – and safe to do so.  This is the new reality. As much as I wish things were different, they’re not. People need to drive now, more than ever. Loads of callers have told us they’re nervous about getting into an Uber or Lyft. Others cannot get rides from friends or family that don’t live in their household. This has given people plenty of time to think about how they struggle because they don’t have a driver’s license.

As the Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer who puts out the most information about license appeals, I try to examine every aspect of the process within the more than 500 articles on this subject I have published to date. There is, however, one theme I must return to regularly, and it will be the point of this article – the fact that you must have given up drinking in order to be able to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. Being sober is the absolute key to filing a license appeal that has any chance of success.

FirstThingsFirstIn my numerous articles, I try to come at this subject from a slightly different angle each time. This time, I want my take to be “brief,” as in “short.” The bottom line in a Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals is that they are all about proving you have quit drinking for good. Of course, license appeals are complicated, but unless a person can prove that he or she has been alcohol-free for a sufficient period of time, and also has the commitment to remain alcohol-free for good, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

Indeed, the whole reason I have to bring this topic back to center-stage so often is that most people overlook this simple fact, and focus, instead, on how much they need a license, or how long they’ve gone without one. As one of the Michigan Secretary of State hearing officers puts it, “everybody needs a license.” That, however, has absolutely nothing to do with being able to win it back. No matter what a person’s circumstances, the laser-sharp focus of the state is going to zero in on when he or she last consumed alcohol (we prefer a minimum of 18 months’ abstinence to file a case) and his or her intention to never drink again.