Michigan Drivers License Restoration Attorney
Having a valid driver’s license is vital for individuals to be functioning members of society. This is especially true in Michigan which historically has placed automobiles as the top form of transportation, with roadway planning in metro areas being heavily vehicle-centric with little public transit or pedestrian accommodations. If an individual cannot legally drive, they are effectively excluded from being able to do normal everyday activities such as going to work, shopping, having a social life, etc.
Losing a driver’s license can make an individual feel trapped, and can have serious lasting consequences. However there are options for those who find themselves in this situation. This involves an administrative process through which an individual can have their license reinstated. While this process has resulted in many individuals successfully getting their licenses back, it can be a complex and daunting task for a person to handle on their own.
Because of this, it is strongly recommended that individuals who are seeking to have their license reinstated work with an experienced criminal defense attorney specializing in license restoration. Our team of experienced DUI attorneys have decades of combined experience working with clients to restore their license and driving freedoms. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact our office today to see how we can help.
How an Attorney Can Help
Working with an attorney is critical for ensuring the successful navigation of the drivers license reinstatement process. There are several steps in this process, all of which need to be completed properly in order to ensure the best chances of a successful outcome. A skilled attorney can prepare an individual for this process by guiding them through each of these steps and work to create the best case possible to present before an appeals court.
This goes beyond simply ensuring documentation is set up correctly. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the driver’s license suspension, an attorney may advise individuals to voluntarily participate in programs such as alcohol rehabilitation to prove that they are making positive changes to their lives. This can set things off on the right foot before the official reinstatement process even starts.
Steps to Get Drivers License Back
As mentioned before, the process for getting a driver’s license suspension lifted and the license restored is complex. There are several stages this can go through, the first of which is filing a request for an Administrative Hearing with the Michigan Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD). Formally known as the Department of State Driver’s License and Appeal Division (DLAD), this hearing will give the individual the opportunity to present their best case in front of DAAD.
If they are denied, they can then file an appeal to that determination with the circuit court requesting a hearing with a circuit court judge as well as a representative from the Secretary of State in order to challenge DAADs determination. These appeals must be submitted in writing to the State of Michigan, along with multiple additional documents in order for the request to be processed.
The state is extraordinarily picky when it comes to paperwork and it is important to be aware that even the smallest error will likely result in a denial of an appeal. It also should be noted that some DAAD decisions cannot be appealed to the circuit court. For these reasons, it is vital to work with a drunk driving attorney experienced in the driver’s license reinstatement process who can advise on how to best navigate the process.
Reasons For Driver’s License Revocation
Drug and Alcohol Issues
Having your license revoked due to drug or alcohol-related issues is very serious. It also makes it that much harder to get your license restored. If you are convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, you can expect Michigan’s Secretary of State to revoke your license.
Michigan’s Secretary of State considers anyone a habitual offender if they are convicted of two Michigan Vehicle Code violations for drinking while under the influence within a seven-year timeframe, or have three code violations within a ten-year timeframe. Once you are classified as a habitual offender, your license may get revoked. Having your license revoked is very serious. This will negatively impact your ability to get to work on time, pick up your children from school, visit your loved ones, or travel.
But perhaps your license isn’t revoked. Maybe you will be issued a restricted license instead. In Michigan, if you are permitted to drive on a restricted license, then you must install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device into your car. You must blow into it and have an acceptable blood-alcohol content level before your car starts. You are solely responsible for the cost of installing this device. Once it is safely installed, you send verification of this to Michigan’s Secretary of State, and then you should be permitted to drive.
Bear in mind that you can only drive a car that has this breath alcohol ignition interlock device in it. This device keeps a report that can be copied and presented at your license restoration hearing. Therefore, it’s imperative that you abstain from alcohol use. Failure to maintain a good record will further hinder the restoration of your driving privileges.
If your license is revoked—instead of restricted, you can expect to appear before a hearing officer from the Michigan Secretary of State. The hearing officer may deny your request, and you may have to appeal your case. This is a big problem as the absence of a license can impede the daily flow of your life and your job security.
Requesting A Driver’s License Hearing
Having a driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. In Michigan, your driving privileges may get revoked even if you weren’t behind the wheel of a car. For example, if you are arrested and convicted of public intoxication, your driver’s license can become revoked. Before you go before the hearing officer, you should speak with a defense attorney.
What To Expect At DAAD / DLAD Hearings
You can expect that the court will not go easy on you. You can expect that you’ll need as much documentation and proof of a change of character as possible. After all, if you’re labeled a habitual offender, the hearing officer will consider you a danger on the roads and to the public. Putting a license back into your hands, from the government’s perspective, may not seem too different from putting a gun into the hands of an unstable person. This is why you should hire an experienced license restoration attorney before your court hearing.
To request a license restoration hearing, you’ll have to request it from the Michigan Secretary of State. You’ll want to get a certified copy of your driving record, which you can get here. This form will tell you why your driving privilege was revoked and what violations are outstanding. It will cost you $12.
You cannot automatically request a hearing date if your license is revoked. Suppose you’re labeled a habitual offender or operated a vehicle while under the influence. In that case, it can take one to seven years before Michigan’s Secretary of State will consider reviewing your driving privileges. Your certified complete copy of your driving record should show when your driving privileges are eligible for review.
Once that date approaches, Michigan’s Secretary of State will send you a packet that you must complete to have a hearing. This packet includes a substance use evaluation form. The substance use evaluation costs $300. Several other things must be addressed before you can successfully request a hearing. Considering how arduous a process this can be, it is best to consult an experienced Michigan license restoration attorney before moving forward.
Showing Your Drug Or Alcohol Disorder Is Under Control
When you are before a hearing officer, you must prove two things. You must prove by clear and convincing evidence that your drug or alcohol disorder is under control, and you’ll never drive while under the influence again. For something to be clear and convincing, it must be highly and substantially probable. In other words, you do not have as big of a burden as having to prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt, but you still must be convincing. Here’s what might make a difference:
- Proof of completion of a rehabilitation program, such as Sobriety Court
- Proof of completion of probation
- Proof of consecutive negative drug tests
- Proof of substance use evaluation from a medical facility
- People who can attest, in writing, that they have witnessed your abstinence from drugs and alcohol
It is likely not enough if you can pass a drug or sobriety test solely on your day in court. The hearing officer must consider whether you will continue to pass such tests years down the line. Their evaluation will be based on your completion of sobriety programs, the character witness letters, and more. One slip-up can ruin your chances. Therefore, being as consistent as possible and showing up in a timely fashion to all your hearings and meetings with your probation officer are especially important.
It is also important that you detail your recovery story. Consider these questions as you respond. Why did you begin using drugs or alcohol? How did drugs or alcohol affect your life and decision-making? What have you learned now? What steps have you taken to gain control over your drug or alcohol use? Because so much is at stake, you’ll want experienced license restoration attorneys helping you each step of the way.
Michigan Driver’s License Appeals
Once your hearing is over, you should be notified of the hearing officer’s decision that day or in the upcoming weeks. Notification may come by way of mail or email. Please note that you only get one license restoration application hearing a year. If your case is denied, you must wait until the following year before reapplying. This is why, although you don’t technically need an attorney, it’s wisest to have one for this matter. George Law’s knowledgeable Michigan attorneys deal with license restoration cases frequently.
If you think your case should not have been denied, you can appeal the hearing officer’s decision. But much like with any other legal case, you can only appeal if certain things are true:
- There is new evidence that would have changed the hearing officer’s decision had it been known to the hearing officer at the time of your hearing
- The hearing officer either misunderstood the law or misapplied the law to your case
- The hearing officer got one or more facts of your case incorrect, and these facts affected the outcome of your case
If you are a habitual offender whose case has been denied and you want to appeal, your appeal will only be granted if your substantial rights were prejudiced. This basically means that:
- The actions taken against you violated the United States Constitution, the State Constitution, or another law
- The Secretary of State overstepped their authority
- The decision was made through an unlawful procedure resulting in you being unfairly prejudiced
- The decision was not supported by competent or substantial evidence
- The decision was arbitrary, abusive, or unwarranted
- The decision was based on some other significant error
The circuit court, instead of the Secretary of State, oversees your appeal. Chances are, you need your driver’s license for work or to do simple tasks that others take for granted, such as getting groceries. Maybe you lost your job and haven’t been able to get another one because your driving privileges aren’t restored. Can you risk waiting another year before you reapply for license restoration? With so much to lose, you’ll benefit from having the expert knowledge of a Michigan license restoration attorney on your side.
Definite And Indefinite Suspensions
Suspensions can be definite or indefinite. A definite suspension means that your license will automatically be restored once a certain program is completed or a certain date occurs. This suspension will last from a specified date through a different specified date. Sometimes, after a certain period, you may receive a restricted license to restore some of your driving privileges before your license is fully restored. This information can be rather complicated, so call an expert license restoration attorney for direction.
If you have an indefinite suspension, then your license will not be automatically restored. You will have to comply for your indefinite suspension to be lifted and for your driving privileges to be restored. After you comply with the judge’s order, you pay the Michigan Secretary of State a $45 reinstatement fee.
Even if your suspension is definite, you have to pay a $125 restoration fee in Michigan. You’ll pay this $125 fee to the Michigan Secretary of State. You can schedule an appointment with the Secretary of State here. Bear in mind that this $125 fee cannot be waived and is required by law.
Failure To Comply With A Judgment
Your driver’s license may have been suspended because you have failed to comply with a judgment. The failure to comply doesn’t have to be Traffic Court-related. The judge may issue a failure to comply if you are behind on child support or missed a mandatory court date. There are two types of failure to comply with judicial orders. One is a failure to pay (FTP), and the other is a failure to appear (FAC).
Once an officer hands you a citation, there should be a date on it that tells you when you must appear in Traffic Court. If you miss that date, a bench warrant—which is a warrant for failing to appear before the judge—is issued. This warrant will remain active until the matter is resolved. It will show up on your driver’s license file, even if you try to get a license in a different state.
You may have to pay up to a few hundred dollars on your traffic ticket before you pay reinstatement and restoration fees. If you’ve found yourself unable to pay the ticket and you later learn that your license has been suspended as a result, don’t feel too terrible. It’s common.
Recently, Michigan decided to lift driver license suspensions for certain instances in which you have failed to comply with a judgment. As of October 1, 2021, here is what qualifies:
- Having open drugs or alcohol in the vehicle if you’re the driver
- Having open drugs or alcohol in the vehicle if you’re the passenger
- Being under 21 while transporting, purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcohol
- Failing to comply with a civil infraction
- Being under 21 while using a fake ID to purchase alcohol
- Selling alcohol to someone who’s under 21
- Felonious driving
- Making a fake bomb threat, or some other kind of threat, to a school
- Having unpaid parking tickets
Bear in mind that you’ll still have points against your license, and you’ll have to deal with that issue separately.