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Articles Posted in Uncategorized

Every Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal is decided by a hearing officer. Technically called an “administrative law examiner” (for all practical purposes, the same thing as an “administrative law Judge”), a hearing officer is a licensed attorney employed by the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight. Because they decide all license appeal (including implied consent and ignition interlock violations) matters, SOS hearing officers serve an incredibly important function.

fairness-278x300For as much power as they have to approve or deny license appeals, hearing officers are constrained to exercise it within very strict rules. This is important, because even many lawyers don’t know the ins and outs of these rules, and fewer still work with them enough to really understand how they are interpreted and applied by each hearing officer. People who lose a “do-it-yourself” license appeal (or who lose with some lawyer who does not concentrate in this field) often become frustrated at their lack of success, and wrongly blame the hearing officer, without understanding how the application of the rules controlled the outcome of their case.

Although the governing rules are written in black and white, the way each hearing officer interprets certain parts of them can vary, essentially meaning that there is a lot of gray area. This is where the uniqueness of the various hearing officers matters, and why it is very important for us, as driver’s license restoration attorneys, to know each one, and how he or she does things. Something that one hearing officer couldn’t care less about may be a complete deal killer with another. If the lawyer doesn’t know how this applies to every part of a case, then he or she is not properly prepared to move forward with it.

If you hold any kind of professional license in the state of Michigan and you get a DUI, you are going to have to report it. This article will be a very short overview of a deep and complex subject. In fact, a person can easily get lost in the details involved in all the license stuff, so I want to cut a quick path to what is more the heart of the matter. Also, I want to turn away from all the scary, fear-based marketing stuff and make it clear that, at least in 1st and 2nd DUI offense cases, you will almost certainly NOT lose your occupational license. It is important to point out that there is a huge difference between what happens in the real world and what is theoretically possible on paper. A 1st offense OWI, for example, technically carries a possible 93-day jail sentence. With the possible exception of cases brought before one Judge in the Metro-Detroit area, nobody goes to jail in a 1st offense case, and even if that Judge does lock someone up, it’s only for a handful of days.

license-compressed-300x262This is significant because people often make the mistake of rushing to some lawyer they think can save them, and thus buying into what they want to hear at the moment, when they’re scared. A person will hop online and get just enough information to start freaking out, and then fall prey to the kind of fear-based marketing that I deplore. To be clear, if you have a professional license, you are certainly going to have to report your DUI, but that’s often all there is to it. In the healthcare world, for example, a DUI will almost certainly result in some kind of discipline, but any kind of license suspension is highly unlikely in a 1st offense case if things are handled properly. That said, a suspension is all but certain if it is discovered (and it will be discovered, so you can’t hide it) that a person failed to report a drinking and driving conviction. Within my DUI practice, I represent a lot of people with medical and nursing licenses. To this day, I have NEVER had any client of mine have his or her license revoked, and, as a DUI lawyer, I’ve handled countless 1st offense cases and plenty of 2nd offense cases for medical professionals.

The real risks for 1st time offenders is a reprimand, and the possibility of having to be evaluated for a substance abuse problem, and having to attend counseling thereafter. In the real world, counseling and oversight are far more probable in any kind of 2nd offense case (and by that, I mean even if a person is charged with a 1st offense DUI but has a prior alcohol or drug-related conviction). This is where I come in; beyond being a DUI lawyer, I bring a post-graduate education in addiction studies to the table. I fundamentally understand the development, diagnosis and treatment of alcohol and drug problems. Key to being able to help a client through both the court and administrative process is a working knowledge of how diagnoses are made and the various treatment modalities that are available for them. Over-diagnosis is and always has been a common problem in the legal forum. Moreover, this needs to be understood in the context that licensing bodies exist with the mission to protect the public from unsafe practitioners (better safe than sorry, right?).