For anyone thinking of filing an Appeal for a Michigan Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division Hearing, listen up. If you lose after your Hearing, the chances are overwhelming that you will also lose any appeal that you file. As a rather well-seasoned Driver’s License Restoration Attorney, I handle a large volume of License Appeals. That does not mean, however, that I get involved with every, or even the majority of cases that come along. Part of having a successful record of wins involves having a good sense of which cases can and will be successful. That means knowing when a case is not likely to win, and not going forward with it.
A fair number of the calls that come into my office are from Driver’s who have already gone to the DAAD for their Hearing and lost. Most went without an Attorney, but a few hired one that they now think wasn’t familiar enough with this area of the law. Either way, they are looking for help in appealing a decision to deny their License Appeal.
The problem is that all-too-often, there’s very little that can be done. A common misconception is that if you lose at the DAAD hearing, you can simply appeal to Court. While that’s technically true, it’s the type of Appeal that makes winning so unlikely. After the DAAD Hearing Officer issues his or her opinion, a Court can only overturn their decision if it finds it to be, to use a more understandable term, unlawful.
In other words, as long as the Hearing Officer lawfully conducted the Hearing, and as long as their decision is supported by material and competent evidence, a Court cannot overrule it. As the section on Relief Available in Circuit Court (beginning on page 32 and continuing to page 34) explains, and as some of the cases cited in the “Habitual Alcohol Offender Appeals section (beginning on page 41 and continuing to page 43) of the DAAD Practice Manual illustrate, a Judge cannot overrule the DAAD, even if he or she would have granted a License, unless that Judge is convinced that the Hearing Officer’s decision was not supported by competent and material evidence, or the Hearing Officer otherwise conducted the Hearing in a manner that does not comply with the Law. That doesn’t happen too often.
Most of the calls I receive from Driver’s who just received a denial of their Appeal by the Secretary of State are essentially Driver’s who want a second chance at a Hearing. Frankly, in the vast majority of cases, the Driver went in without an Attorney, thinking they could do it on their own, and missed one or more of the many, “picky” little details and rules that govern these Appeals. Now, having lost, they are willing to pay whatever it takes to get some kind of Restricted License.
I’m in business, of course, to make money. Sending prospective clients away is neither fun nor profitable. Nevertheless, I will not simply take someone’s money to file an Appeal that I don’t believe is substantially likely to win. And in all the cases I’ve seen, where someone is calling looking to appeal a Secretary of State denial, it appears to be a virtual certainty that any Appeal would lose.
My advice: Invest the money before you lose. Hire a good Restoration Attorney before you wind up with a losing decision, because the chance of winning on appeal ranges from slim to none. Before you decide to go ahead with a DAAD Appeal, take the time to review my website section on License Restorations. I know there’s a lot to go over, but that’s sort of the point; there’s a lot to this stuff. Knowing and understanding it is essential to have any chance of winning your case.