There is no doubt that a driver’s license restoration hearing is stressful. You will be one-on-one with a hearing officer with the task of convincing them that you are sober and will remain so for the rest of your life. The hearing officer will question you and examine your hearing form, drug test results, substance use evaluation, and support letters (plus a interlock report if you have an interlock ignition device).
If there is any discrepancy that will create any doubt in the hearing officer’s mind that you are sober or will remain sober, you will get denied.
The hearing officer’s responsibility is to determine whether or not a person who has multiple DUI convictions should be allowed driving privileges. They do not take that responsibility lightly. Without an attorney representing you, it is extraordinarily easy to make a mistake in your paperwork or say the wrong thing under pressure at your hearing.
People lose at their hearings for those types of common mistakes all of the time. While losing a driver license restoration hearing is disappointing, you can take action to appeal the denial.
How Long Do I Have to File an Appeal?
An appeal must be filed no later than 63 days from the date you were denied a license. With good cause, which must be explained to the court in writing when you file your appeal, you have no more than 182 days from the denial date to file your appeal. An example of having good cause is not having the funds available to hire an attorney. For this type of case, court appointed attorneys are not available, so you either need to represent yourself or hire an attorney.
If you do not take action within the allotted time frame(s), you will have to wait one (1) year before you can submit a request for hearing again. This means that you must re-do all of your paperwork. Additionally, you are almost guaranteed to appear in front of the same hearing officer if you don’t appeal, which can be unsettling.
The Process to Appeal a Driver’s License Restoration Denial
A division of Michigan’s Secretary of State (SOS) is responsible for handling cases of people attempting to restore their Michigan driving privileges. If you decide to appeal, your case will be decided by a circuit court judge in the county in which the appellant resides.
The first thing you need to do is order the transcript from your administrative hearing. Next, you need to file a claim of appeal or petition in the court (courts vary on which is accepted). In addition to your claim of appeal or petition, you need to provide the court with the order the hearing officer wrote that states you were denied a license (see MCR 7.120).
The paperwork you file with the court must be served to the SOS in addition to the Attorney General’s office or Prosecutor’s office. If your court is located in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, or Washtenaw County in Michigan, you must serve the Attorney General’s Office. Otherwise, you need to serve the county Prosecutor’s office.
There are only certain grounds you can appeal on. It must be determined that your rights have been prejudiced because the hearing officer’s decision is:
- in violation of the Constitution of the United States, Michigan’s Constitution, or a law.
- in excess of the Secretary of State’s statutory authority or jurisdiction
- made upon unlawful procedure resulting in material prejudice to you
- not supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence on the whole record
- arbitrary, capricious, or clearly an abuse or unwarranted exercise of discretion, or
- affected by other substantial and material error of law
(see MCL 257.323(4)).
Three (3) things can happen at your appeal hearing:
- you will be granted a license,
- denied a license, or
- your case will be remanded.
The latter means you will go back in front of your original hearing officer at the SOS. You will need to provide the judge with this form which the judge and assistant attorney general or prosecutor will sign. Once signed, you need to serve the form on the SOS so they can update your driving record.
How to Win Your Driver’s License Restoration Appeal
Without a lawyer, appearing in front of a judge in a court room can be more intimidating than appearing in front of a hearing officer. Unlike at the SOS, there are other people in the room waiting for their cases to be called so you will have an audience. There will also be an assistant attorney general or prosecutor arguing against you. The assistant attorney generals and prosecutors are lawyers and have appeared in court numerous times to argue against license denial appeals and have relationships with the judges.
It’s very difficult to win an appeal without an attorney. The lawyers at our firm have experience with appeal matters, relationships with the judges and assistant attorney generals, and have been successful countless times.
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Sarah Tarockoff is one of the paralegals at The Law Offices of Barton Morris. She earned a Paralegal Certificate from Oakland Community College in 2015 and graduated from Oakland University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a concentration in criminal justice. She completed internships at the 52-3 District Court where she aided probation officers in the Probation Department and at Bernstein & Bernstein, where she worked closely with attorneys and paralegals on various litigation-related matters.