One of the most important things we do, as Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, is to read and fully understand a person’s driving record. Lots of people can, in a general sense, “read” their driving record, but we earn our livings based upon correctly interpreting every single entry on it. This is a lot like looking at an x-ray as a layperson versus being a radiologist: Pretty much everyone can see a broken bone, but there are subtleties in those cloudy, gray areas, that – lost to everyone else – reveal important medical information to those whose work depends on correctly reading them.
The inspiration for this article came from a recent phone call we received from someone who worked within the criminal justice system, inquiring about a license appeal. Our firm won’t undertake the first step in a license reinstatement case until we’ve read a person’s driving record, and no decent lawyer would ever think to do otherwise. This caller claimed to know all of the relevant information from his driving record. When we told him that we’d still need a copy of it anyway, he became angry, insisting there was no need for that, because, as he put it, “I just told you everything.”
Beyond very real questions about this caller’s claimed sobriety date (given his attitude), the simple fact is that even if he did have a perfect memory of every driving infraction he had ever received (including the dates when he was arrested and the dates of his various DUI convictions), that doesn’t mean that he understood every last entry on it, or that his driving record was necessarily accurate. Driving records can contain mistaken information.
Over the years, my team and I have seen plenty of screw ups, including many cases where the police or the courts haven’t followed up by sending required information to the Michigan Secretary of State after a DUI arrest or conviction.
Here’s a fairly common example: When a person is arrested for a DUI, the police are supposed to confiscate and destroy his or her actual, physical driver’s license, and give the person a temporary, paper license. This is called a “625G permit,” and when it’s issued, that fact is supposed to immediately entered upon a person’s driving record.
This way, if the person gets pulled over later on, when that next police officer runs his or her record, it will show that he or she does not have a physical license because of the recent DUI arrest. That’s important, because a person Michigan law mandates that a person must always carry his or her license when driving.
In Michigan, it is a misdemeanor offense to drive without a valid license on one’s person (this offense is commonly called “No Ops”). Requiring an arresting agency to enter the issuance of a 635G permit on a person’s driving record negates that potential problem for a person to whom a paper license has been lawfully issued should he or she thereafter get stopped by the police.
When a person’s DUI case has been fully adjudicated, the court is supposed to notify the Secretary of State so that the 625 G permit will be cancelled. There is no notice sent to the person him or her self, as this is just supposed to happen in the background.
However, every so often, a court will forget to recall the 625G permit.
This is important, because recalling the 625G permit is required for a person to get whatever license comes next.
Now, pay attention to what follows, because this is a real-world problem we encounter from time to time:
A person’s driver’s license will be revoked for a period of time following either 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 within 10 years. Even though any such repeat offender won’t be getting any kind of license until he or she files and wins a formal restoration appeal, NO license of any kind can issue if there is an outstanding 625G permit on his or her record.
This only becomes a problem when some court somewhere forgets to recall it.
To be sure, nobody really has any chance of winning his or her license back for at least 2 years following a 2nd offense DUI, and many people wait far longer than that.
Indeed some wait more than 10 years.
The problem, though, is that anyone whose license has been revoked goes about his or life figuring that, whatever else they have to do, the court will have done its part.
Or so they think…
We’ve represented plenty of people who have read their own driving records and learned that they were eligible to file a license appeal.
However, because they didn’t know how to read everything on their record, they didn’t see the outstanding 625G permit that my team and I found when we reviewed it.
Of course, we have to fix this before moving forward, and, in truth, it is a HUGE pain in the a$$ to have to chase down some court to have them recall an outstanding 625G permit, particularly when the case is older.
If someone simply plowed ahead with a license reinstatement appeal before a careful review of his or her had been conducted and the outstanding 635G permit was discovered, it would stop their appeal dead in its tracks and really screw things up.
Given the time that can be required to get these error corrected, it is possible that all of the documents for person’s license appeal would expire in the meantime, and then have to be completely redone, meaning they’d have to get a a new evaluation and new, updated letters of support.
The good news is that my team and I find these things before they become a problem.
Beyond just being good at what we do, we are experienced enough to make sure that every driving record is checked over by at least 2 sets of eyes, so that even if 1 person was to miss something, the other would catch it.
These subtleties are the kinds of things that only people who concentrate in the license appeal process would really understand, and because we do, we also guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take.
The cold, hard truth is that these little super-technical details are usually learned the hard way.
Fortunately, I earned my “school of hard knocks” degree decades ago, so my team and I are long past such lessons.
In other words, if a person hasn’t dealt with a situation like a un-recalled 625G permit situation before, he or she is almost certain to not recognize it when reading a driving record.
In terms of Secretary of State screw ups, we’ve seen driving records that have miscalculated a person’s mandatory minimum period of revocation following 3 or more DUI’s to his or her advantage, allowing him or her to be able to move forward earlier than should have otherwise been the case.
While these things might seem strange, they’re really not that unusual.
In fact, somewhat recently, I spoke with a hearing officer about a very obscure legal technicality affecting how things get reported (the legal term for that is “abstracted”) to a person’s driving record, and was told that the hearing officers essentially leave a determination of eligibility to the people in charge of records, and don’t fly-speck any individual driving record to make sure things like that have been accurately calculated.
This means that when a person’s driving record indicates that he or she is eligible to file a restoration appeal, the hearing officers accept that as true.
By contrast, if the record is wrong for some reason, then it’s up to the person, him or herself (or, more likely, his or her lawyer), to fix it.
This means it’s critically important to not only be able to “read” a driving record, but to understand every code and notation that’s on it.
Another real world thing that happens (although, thankfully, not that often) is what’s called a “late abstract.” This occurs when a court fails to send in the required information following a DUI conviction in a timely manner. Sometimes, these late submissions can be years late.
Consider this example:
Assume that Bad Luck Brenda pled guilty to her 3rd within 10 years back in 2005. Under the law, her driver’s license should have been revoked for 5 years from that point, meaning that she should have been eligible to file a license appeal in 2010.
Like many people, Brenda got busy with life, and then finally, in 2021, finally decided it was time to move forward and get her license back.
Accordingly, she contacts Larry the Lawyer, who, upon reviewing her driving record, notices that the court never did abstract her last DUI in 2005.
Unfortunately, when the court finally DOES send in that long overdue abstract, Brenda’s license will be revoked for 5 years – FROM THE DATE THE SECRETARY OF STATE RECEIVES IT!
Poor Brenda won’t be eligible to file a license appeal until 2026 -16 years after she SHOULD have been able to do so!
By law, a period of revocation starts running from the time the underlying conviction is reported.
Even though the law requires courts to send these records over within 5 days, the failure to do so does NOT make the revocation take effect retroactively!
This is just one example; there are really countless other things that can be found when a driver’s license restoration lawyer reads a driving record.
Circling back to the caller who inspired this article, what is really most perplexing about him and his attitude is that our office will review any potential client’s driving record for free, and we explained that to him.
If you are looking for a lawyer to win the restoration of your Michigan driver’s license, or to obtain the clearance of a Michigan hold on your driving record so that you can get a license in another state, be a wise consumer. Do you homework, and read around. Read how lawyers explain the license appeal process, and how they explain their approach to it.
When you’ve done enough of that, start checking around. My team and I can handle any Michigan license restoration issue no matter where in the state, or even the country, you may live.
All of our consultations are free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. We’re very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions, explain things, and even 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.