Hire a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer, not a “McLicense” Attorney

Anyone looking for a driver’s license restoration lawyer to handle a Michigan license appeal case needs to be careful. Over the last several years, there has been a flood of lawyers looking to get a piece of this market. Some are crafty, using every possible combination of words like “Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer” as part of their website names. Many are newcomers, though, and make up a segment that I call “McLicense” operations. To be sure, there are a few genuinely good license restoration law firms out there. In this piece, though, we’re going to focus on the danger of hiring a “McLicense lawyer.”

Driver's license restoration lawyers - Beware of the "McLicense" attorneysThe inspiration for this piece came from a very recent case in our office. We had been hired by a person charged with driving on a revoked license. The client’s license had been revoked as a consequence of 2 DUI convictions within 7 years. This individual was eligible, time-wise, to file a driver’s license restoration appeal case. However, under Michigan law, if a person whose license is in “revoked” status is convicted of ANY kind of moving violation, he or she will be revoked all over again. That’s exactly what this person was facing. This is called a “mandatory additional” revocation.  Let me explain why this was so important…

In Michigan, anyone convicted of either 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 within 10 years will have his or her driving privileges revoked for life. That means he or she can NEVER get a license unless and until they file – and win – a formal driver’s license appeal before the Secretary of State. A person convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years cannot file any kind of license appeal for at least 1 year from the date of his or her revocation. If someone is convicted of 3 DUI’s within 10 years, then he or she must wait at least 5 years to file a license appeal case.

A “mandatory additional” requires the Michigan Secretary of State to essentially “re-revoke” the license of any person found to be driving while in revoked status. This will render him or her ineligible to file an appeal for the same minimum period of time as his or her original revocation. In other words, the law requires a person to be revoked all over again for either another 1 year or 5 years. This means that if someone gets caught driving on a revoked license, it becomes imperative for the lawyer to work out some kind of deal that will keep ANY moving violation off his or her driving record.

In fact, even if a person is in an accident, and NOT cited for a moving violation, once the Michigan Secretary of State receives the crash report showing he or she was driving, it must impose a “mandatory additional” revocation. This sets a person back from being able to file a license appeal for an additional 1 or 5 years. In addition, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that having been caught driving on a revoked license is simply NOT helpful in the context of a restoration appeal.

To be clear, it does not matter if a person had been eligible to file a license appeal when he or she was found to be driving. The ONLY thing that matters is that he or she was still in revoked status.

Our client (I’m redacting anything identifying, including gender) expressed an interest in pursuing a driver’s license restoration appeal. Unfortunately, we DECLINED to take that case because the person still uses recreational marijuana on occasion, and is therefore not truly sober. Proving sobriety is the absolute key to winning a license appeal, and that means demonstrating that one has not only been completely abstinent from alcohol and all other substances, but also has the commitment to remain totally clean and sober for life (more on that later).

Not happy with the fact that we wouldn’t undertake a license appeal, the client found another lawyer who would. Whatever else, this attorney, who is clearly NOT any kind of bona-fide driver’s license restoration lawyer, either doesn’t know the law, or doesn’t care that the client does not meet the legal criteria to win a Michigan license appeal case. Neither of those things is good, but the sad reality is that they’re not that uncommon, either. A fairly large number of our clients hire our firm after having used some other attorney who plowed ahead with a license appeal straight into a loss.

That doesn’t happen with us, and that’s not any cockiness on my part. My team and I GUARANTEE to win every driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case we take. If we don’t win the first time around, then we’re stuck with a case until we do. For as honest and nice as we are, the bottom line is that we COUNT on earning our money by winning these cases the first time around. Having to do a license appeal all over again without further legal fees – even one time – is double the work for half the pay.

We’ll pass on that….

The key to our success is simple: We carefully screen potential clients to make sure they can win. And that means that we need to make sure anyone we represent is, in fact, genuinely sober. That is, without a doubt, the very first thing any true driver’s license restoration lawyer should do.

Here, it will help to look at the main rule governing license appeals. I’ll reprint it below and thereafter explain what it means in plain English. First, though, the reader needs to understand that under Michigan’s DUI laws, any person who racks up 2 DUI’s within 7 years or 3 within 10 years is legally categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender.”

That’s important because under that same set of laws, it is PRESUMED that he or she also has a drinking and/or substance abuse problem. Put simply, that’s the starting point for every license appeal following a revocation for multiple DUI’s.

The question then becomes, what has the person done to “fix” his or her problem?

Now, with that as our context, let’s look at the law. As written, it provides as follows:

The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following:

i.   That the petitioner’s alcohol or substance abuse problems, if any, are under control and likely to remain under control.

ii.  That the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk.

iii. That the risk of the petitioner repeating the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by, or under the influence of, alcohol or controlled substances or a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance or repeating any other offense listed in section 303(1)(d), (e), or (f) or (2)(c), (d), (e), or (f) of the act is a low or minimal risk.

iv. That the petitioner has the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.

v.  Other showings that are relevant to the issues identified in paragraphs (i) to (iv) of this subdivision.

For as much language as there is to it, we can break this down into 2 main points:

First, as you’ll notice from the opening sentence, the law instructs the hearing officer to NOT grant the appeal unless –

Second, the person filing it proves several things by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence.”

Put simply, this means the hearing officer MUST deny a license appeal unless the person presents evidence so strong that it’s the basically the equivalent of hitting a home run.

Although the law lays out a number of issues that must be proven, there are 2 that rise above everything else. To win a restoration or clearance appeal case, a person must always prove, by that “clear and convincing evidence” standard, these 2 things:

  1. That his or her alcohol (and/or substance abuse) problem is “under control.” This means a person must demonstrate that he or she has been completely abstinent from alcohol (and all other substances, including recreational marijuana) for a legally sufficient period of time. The precise amount will vary from case to case; a person with 2 DUI’s and a shorter drinking history will need less clean time than someone with 5 or 6 DUI’s who has been struggling with alcohol for decades.

As a general rule our firm will not move forward with a case unless a person has AT LEAST 18 months of abstinence.

  1. That his or her alcohol (and/or substance abuse) problem is “likely to remain under control.” Beyond showing that one has been clean, a person will also need to demonstrate (again, by “clear and convincing evidence”), that he or she has both the ability and commitment to permanently remain abstinent.

Put another way, the person must convince the hearing officer that he or she is a safe bet to remain completely clean and sober for life.

My team and I do NOT take license appeal cases for anyone who is still drinking, or who even thinks they can ever drink again. A person isn’t genuinely sober unless he or she remains free of any and all mind or mood-altering or potentially habit-forming substances. Thus, one is not truly sober if all he or she does is quit drinking, but still smokes weed.

The hearing officers who decide these cases know sobriety, and they fully expect that loads of people are going to come in and try and BS their way to a license. They expect to be lied to. The whole license appeal process is really about screening out those people who are truly sober from everyone else.

The governing rule requires not only that a person must  be sober, but that he or she also proves it by “clear and convincing evidence.” There are no close calls in this field.  Either a person hits a home run – or not, and “or not” equals a lost license appeal.

Now, with that in mind, here is the exact language that was in the letter the client’s “new” lawyer for the license appeal provided (again I have “X’d” out anything that could identify the person or the lawyer):

Jeffrey N Main Randa and Associates

75 N Main Street #105

Mt. Clemens, MI 48043


Mr. Randa:

Let this letter serve as notice that XXXXXXXX XXXXXXX has retained my office to obtain driving driving privileges via the Secretary of State. HXX license was revoked as a result of two or more driving under the influence convictions within a 7-year was period. MX. XXXXXXX must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that hXX alcoholism is in full sustained remission. If you have any questions or concerns with regards to the context of this letter call my office at the number listed above at your earliest convenience.

I was horrified when I read this.

There is and never has been any agency known as the “D.A.L.D.” I knew right away that this lawyer knew NOTHING about license appeals. It was imperative that I respond, so I did. Here’s what I sent to the client, via email, exactly as it was written (again, with identifying information “X’d” out):


I would be remiss if I didn’t point out something of GREAT concern:

The letter sent by your retained counsel notes that a case will be filed with the “D.A.L.D.”

There is no such body, nor has there ever been.

For a long time, back in the 80’s and 90’s, that division of the Secretary of State was called the “D.L.A.D.,” which stood for “Driver’s License Appeal Division.”

About 20 or so years ago, it then became the “D.A.A.D.,” or “Driver Assessment and Appeal Division.”

Years later, it was re-named the “A.H.S.,” short for “Administrative Hearing Section,”

Some years back, it was re-named again, and is now called the “O.H.A.O.,” or “Office of Administrative Hearings and Oversight.”

More important, the letter states that you must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that your “alcoholism” is in full sustained remission.

That’s NOT the legal requirement.

Instead, you must prove, among other things, and by what the main rule specifies as “clear and convincing evidence” (this is the highest civil legal standard, and higher than “preponderance of the evidence”) that your alcohol and/or substance abuse problems are under control, and likely to remain under control.

Here are 2 articles about that standard of proof:

The Proof Required to win a Michigan License Restoration or Clearance Case

Michigan License Restoration Cases are won by Clear and Convincing Evidence

I point this out because, by law the hearing officer MUST deny a license appeal case unless your proofs are much stronger than a preponderance of the evidence and do, in fact, meet the “clear and convincing evidence” legal standard.

Specifically, those proofs must always address that any alcohol and/or substance abuse problem is:

    1. Under control, and
    2. Likely to remain under control.

I would feel guilty if I didn’t point this out….

Jeffrey Randa

I then received another letter, written by the lawyer, that was “corrected.” Specifically, the lawyer took out the reference to the Secretary of State’s hearing division (OHAO, or “Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight”) and the legal standard of proof.

I was rather hoping that the client would decide, instead, to dump that attorney, but it was clear that this person wanted to plow forward on their own terms.

Here’s what bothers me: Nobody should have taken this person’s license appeal case, precisely because there is no way to win it. Any lawyer who would do that is either ignorant, or (and there’s no nicer way to put this), dishonest. I’m going to assume ignorance on this attorney’s part, given the inability to even correctly name the agency that decides license appeal cases. Even if one isn’t any kind of real driver’s license restoration lawyer, he or she should at least know the law well enough (and ask the right questions) to spot someone who does NOT qualify to win a license appeal case

While it’s understandable why someone would buy into what they want to hear (“Hire us and we’ll get your license back!”), being suckered in by something that’s too good to be true is one of the most common mistakes in the world.

I’m as sure as I can be that this lawyer is NOT providing a guarantee to the client.

Sometimes, you just have to be honest and tell a person you can’t help. Of course, that’s easier for us to say, because we are a busy practice. Still, I know that even if we were hurting for business, my team and I would have the integrity to decline any case where someone is still drinking, using any kind of drugs, or otherwise not yet ready to win. That’s an important part of being a genuine and honest driver’s license restoration lawyer.

What does this mean for anyone looking to hire a driver’s license restoration lawyer? Well, first, that you have be a smart consumer. It’s not even that all these “McLicense” operations, or other lawyers that say they “do” license appeals are dishonest. Many just don’t know better.

Our firm handles about 200 license appeal matters per year. That’s nearly 20 per month. Even among those lawyers who claim to “do” license appeal cases, most won’t handle 10 such cases in a year. Over course of a decade, that’s the difference between someone having handled about 100 or so license appeal matters, and us having handled thousands. Multiply that by 30-plus years, and, well, you get my point….

My team and I describe ourselves as Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers. Those 2 areas are the main focus of our practice. We don’t have a separate website for sex crimes, or federal cases, or anything else. We don’t handle civil matters. We stay in our lane and win license appeal cases, and we do that by making sure we carefully screen our potential clients to make sure they really have quit drinking, don’t use drugs, and are otherwise qualified to win.

Remember, we guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take. That makes us equally invested in the success of our client’s cases.

As a consumer, you can’t do better than that.

If you are looking for a driver’s license restoration lawyer to win back your license or clear a Michigan hold on your driving record so that you can obtain a license in another state, be a wise consumer and read around. Look for real information, and pay attention to how different lawyers break down the license appeal process and how they explain their various approaches to it.

This blog is a great place to start. It is fully searchable and updated weekly with new, original content.  To-date, I have written and published over 680 articles in the driver’s license restoration section. The reader can find more useful information than anywhere, but don’t take my word for it – look for yourself.

When you’ve done enough reading, start checking around. You can learn a lot by speaking to a live person. Our firm can handle your case no matter where you live (everything can be done virtually now, and all hearings are held remotely), so make sure you give our office a ring as you explore your options.

All of our consultations are free, confidential, and done over the phone RIGHT WHEN YOU CALL. My team and I are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions and explain things. We’ll even be glad to compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told you.

We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (EST) at either 248-986-9700, or 586-465-1980.

Contact Information