Getting your driver’s license back after it has been revoked by the Secretary of State is a very difficult process. Although the standard packet the State gives petitioners in order to engage in that process states that one is allowed to have an attorney, though one is not required, this is very misleading. Not only is it to your advantage if you hire legal counsel to get you through this process, but it's also to your even greater advantage if you hire an attorney who is familiar with the ins and outs of the process overall. The Bay City Attorneys at Triton Legal PLC know the process and can help you get back on the road.
In order to successfully win a case for driver’s license restoration reinstatement in Michigan, the law says that one must show that their substance abuse problems, if any, are under control, likely to remain under control, and that one is a low to minimal risk to re-offend. Stated a different way, one must prove to the Secretary of State that they are a safety risk to be allowed back on the road as a licensed driver because any substance abuse issue they may have had is now in the past, has been treated, and there is no likelihood that one is going to fall back into those same sorts of problems that led to the loss of their license in the first place.
How one proves this to the Secretary of State is a multi-pronged process. One must get testimonial letters from people who are aware of one’s history with drugs and/or alcohol, when those relationships ended, and how one has changed their life after removing those substances from it. Then, one must have an evaluation from a trained therapist regarding any current or past substance abuse issues, along with a multi-panel drug and alcohol screen, which must come back negative for all addictive substances.
Relatedly, although one is allowed to be on prescription medicine which may be addictive (i.e., Xanax, Norco, Ocycotin, etc), one must also get sufficient medical documentation to show that this drug will not lead to a relapse into more illicit substances. One must also submit a request for hearing to the State, which acts as a self-report of one’s conviction, usage and treatment history.
After all of these documents are submitted, a Petitioner is scheduled for a hearing, often months later. At the hearing, a Hearing Officer, which is a trained attorney working for the State who decides the fate of your driver’s license status, will ask you several questions about your sobriety, your past, and how one is dealing with life in general in the absence of drugs and/or alcohol. If one brings an attorney to this hearing, you will be asked several questions by both your attorney and the State’s representative.
If one proves their case for driver’s license reinstatement, they will more than likely be granted a restricted driver’s license, requiring the installation of an ignition interlock device, commonly called a “breathalyzer” which must be placed in their vehicle for a minimum of 12 months.
After that time period, a Petitioner must have yet another hearing with the State, where they must present all new evidence and testimony, in order to be given full licensing privileges. At this second hearing, the interlock company will provide the Petitioner with an annual report of their activity on the breathalyzer, which, if one wishes to be successful at the hearing, should have no violations.
First, it is of great note that one should NOT just get any attorney to help them engage in this process. You need an experienced attorney who is familiar with this process, it’s requirements, and the attitudes of each Hearing Officer they may be subjected to. Failure to hire an attorney who has actually presented cases to the State can lead to errors that will impede one’s ability to ever get their license reinstated.
For example, some attorneys will take the evidence you submit, including your letters, Request for Hearing, and evaluation, and just file them without even looking at the data they contain. I have personally witnessed this and heard other stories on how this can work out for a Petitioner. For example, one story I heard involved an attorney submitting a positive alcohol screen on behalf of their client. It is very difficult to claim years of sobriety if one’s drug and alcohol screen is tainted. Other attorneys will just sit there and listen as their client states they have had, say, 5 years of sobriety, while the letters the attorney failed to read all say their client has 3 or 6 or 2 years of sobriety. Meanwhile, their client’s request for hearing states that they drank alcohol every day and at a high quantity, while their evaluation states they rarely drank. All of these things are potential issues one can have at a hearing that is easily avoided if you hire the right person to do the job.
First- feedback and guidance. If you hire an attorney at our firm, you will first be given a packet of information and instructions to help guide you through this process of Driver’s License Restoration in Michigan. This packet will also contain worksheets, which can then be given to your letter writers, which will assist them in writing informative and consistent information on your behalf. These letters will be personally reviewed by your attorney to ensure they have the proper data and consistency.
Second- your evaluation is key. Although there are many therapists out there who are good at treating individuals regarding their substance abuse issues, not many are trained and experienced on what the Secretary of State is looking for in a good evaluation. At our firm, we pride ourselves on connecting you to the appropriate counselors who are very experienced in the license appeals process. They will even testify on your behalf should the need arise.
Third- details. Attention to detail is of the utmost importance in these cases. Your attorney will carefully review your entire packet of evidence before it is submitted to ensure you have submitted complete and accurate information for the Hearing Officer’s review. They will make sure all of your evidence is presented in a consistent manner, which will greatly aid your case.
Fourth- Questions and Attitudes! Each Hearing Officer is a human being, and each of them has their own style, behavior, and manner of asking questions. Our attorneys have presented enough cases that not only are we familiar with each Hearing Officer and how they operate, but we generally know the types of questions each one will be asking you, and whether or not they will let your attorney do most of the talking, or if they are more inclined to do the questioning.
To prepare for this, not only will you be given sample questions from all of the Hearing Officers in your initial packet, but you will also practice with your attorney before the hearing, so you are familiar with what you will be talking about when you have your actual hearing.
Fifth- Appeals. Not only do we win most of our cases on the first try with the Secretary of State, but we also win many appeals concerning the few cases we may lose. If one loses their hearing with the State, they are allowed an appeal to the Circuit Court in the county they last resided in where a judge can overrule the Secretary of State and grant one either a restricted or in some cases, a full license, over the State’s objection. Since our firm has attorneys with vast experience in courts all over the state, they also know how different judges treat these appeals, which enhances their success rate when the appeal is presented for review.
Last- Reputation. The attorneys in our firm have a great reputation with the Secretary of State. They are known for presenting honest, complete, and consistent cases to the various Hearing Officers. Because we make things easier for not only our clients but the State itself in the way we represent our clients, our success rate has increased even further over the years.
While this seems like a lot of information, this is but the surface of a multi-faceted area of law. Each case is different and will have its own unique set of facts and circumstances surrounding it. Don’t make the mistake of hiring someone who couldn’t put two paragraphs together regarding this process- hire the professionals here at Triton Legal PLC
If you owe driver responsibility fees, the state of Michigan is now eliminating them. Check to see where you may be eligible to have those fees waived and when you can do so.