My Practice as a Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer in Michigan is resoundingly successful in terms of the percentage of cases I win. While I’m not trying to sound boastful, I win well over 90-some percent of the cases I file. Much of this has to do with screening potential Clients and making sure they meet the State criteria in order to win their Appeal. In other words, it means not taking on Clients who aren’t yet “ready,” in every sense of the word, to prove their case by the required “Clear and Convincing Evidence.”
Over the years, I have won a lot of cases. And in every one of those cases, the Client has been awarded, at first, a Restricted License. This article will focus on how and why a person who files a License Appeal can pretty much forget about getting a Full, Unrestricted License right out of the gate.
Perhaps one of the most common questions I’m asked, as I take on a Client for a License Appeal, is something to the effect of “What’s the chance of my getting a Full License?”
My answer is always the same: Essentially zero.
There’s a reason for this. When a Restricted License is granted, the Secretary of State must require that the person install an ignition interlock (breath-tester) in any vehicle they will be driving. This gives the Secretary of State an opportunity to monitor a person as they get back on the road, and really amounts to a probationary half-step in the process of eventually returning a Full License. It’s kind of like being kept on a “short leash.”
When a Full, Unrestricted License is granted, there is no legal way to order an ignition interlock. In a very real way, the granting of a Full License requires the Secretary of State to completely “sign off” on a person as being a totally safe bet to remain abstinent from alcohol. I’ve never met the Hearing Officer who doesn’t want at least a little ongoing proof before that happens. And a year on a Restricted License, while being monitored with a breath-test unit, is exactly how they can get that.
Accordingly, a person filing a License Appeal must be ready to accept that this is the case, because, as the saying goes, “that’s just the way it is.”
The granting of a Restricted License as a first-step toward Full Re-Licensing has been the way things have been done since before I started practicing Law about 20 years ago. I have never heard of, much less ever known or met anyone who was awarded a Full, rather than a Restricted License, as the result of an initial, successful License Appeal.
Under the Law, when a Restricted License is granted, the ignition interlock unit must be installed in the vehicle the Driver will be using. It must remain in the vehicle for one year, at which time it may be removed. When it’s removed, the Driver should get what’s called a “Final Report” from the company that installed it. This will be a printout of all the readings taken during the last year.
The Final Report is submitted along with the other documents required when a person who had been granted a Restricted License files an Appeal for a Full License. While not the subject of this article, the Appeal from a Restricted to a Full License requires the exact same documentation as was filed in the original Appeal, plus the ignition interlock “Final Report.” Interestingly enough, a person can remove the ignition interlock unit after a year, and continue to drive without it, but on the Restricted License, forever.
During the period of Restricted License, the company that installed the ignition interlock unit monitors it for any “Major Violations,” which are breath tests that result in a BAC (Bodily Alcohol Content) of .04 or higher. If any test results in a .04 or higher, the company then notifies the Secretary of State, who in turn orders the Driver to come back before the Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) pursuant to an order to “Show Cause” (i.e., a violation proceeding) why the Restricted License should not be taken away for the positive .04 (or above) test result.
Lesser violations, known as “Minor Violations,” do not cause the ignition interlock Company to notify the Secretary of State, but will show up when the Final Report is submitted for the Full License Appeal. They will need to be explained, meaning they will not be ignored or overlooked. Although not extremely common, it is certainly not rare for a Major violation, or a few minor violations, to occur once a Restricted License has been granted.
I think the incidence of these violations further reinforces the generally held belief that the appropriate ruling for an initial, successful License Appeal is to grant a Restricted License requiring and ignition interlock.
The bottom line is that if a person whose License has been Revoked for 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 or more within 5 years, files an Appeal with the DAAD and wins, they will be driving on a Restricted License for at least the 1st year. If they can do that without any problems, then, and only then, will the Secretary of State will consider the possibility of granting a Full License.