With Michigan being home to nearly 7 million licensed drivers, ensuring motorists are safe is a priority. Drunk drivers on the road put not only themselves in danger, but also everyone else that happens to be on the road with them. For this reason, and to ensure motorists are safe, when a driver is convicted of drunk driving in Michigan their privilege to drive will be taken away. Whether the driving privileges are temporarily suspended or completely revoked getting a license back is not so simple.
Before restoring a driver’s license the Driver License Appeal Division (DLAD) will want to be absolutely convinced that it is not putting a dangerous person back on the road. One of the ways the DLAD accomplishes this is to try and get an inside look into the driver’s personal life through testimonial letters submitted by the driver’s friends, co-workers, and family.
Therefore, drivers (also called petitioners) who are trying to get their driving privileges restored are required to obtain and submit 3-6 testimonial letters which attest to his or her sobriety. There will be no chance of license restoration unless 100% abstinence from alcohol and all controlled substances is established. Whatever a person wants to call them: testimonial letters, letters of support, character letters or reference letters, they must be persuasive. The point of the letters is to present clear and convincing evidence to the Hearing Officer that the petitioner will be a safe driver and therefore should be given back driving privileges.
The Hearing Officers at the Driver License Appeal Division (DLAD) make it no mystery as to what they want to hear in the testimonial letters. The DLAD makes a point of stressing that the letters should come from a cross-sampling of family, friends, and co-workers in the petitioners life. These people should be in a position to know, observe and be able to personally attest to the petitioner’s habits regarding the use of alcohol and/or controlled substances.
It is absolutely essential that the letters are consistent. Even a slight discrepancy can cause the Hearing Officer to become suspicious and deny the application – and this becomes a big problem. Once denied, a person must wait an entire year before going through the entire process again. This is a very large intrusion into most people’s lives because it costs not only additional and time, but additional money as well.
Once the letters are sent to the Driver Assessment and License Appeal Offices there is no turning back. This is why a good attorney will take the necessary time to carefully scrutinize each and every letter to ensure that they are appropriate and meet the requirements.
The letters don’t need to be typed or have fancy language in them or sound like a lawyer wrote them. They just need to be honest, accurate and satisfy the DLAD requirements.
The DLAD requires that each and every letter contain the following information:
-The writer’s name and relationship to the petitioner. Make sure the writer actually signs and dates it. The Hearing Officer’s do look for signatures.
-How often the writer sees the petitioner. It’s okay to say that they only see you once or twice a month if this is true.
-How long has the writer actually known the petitioner? Having a letter written by someone who’s only known the petitioner for a few weeks isn’t going to carry as much weight as a person who’s known him or her for several years.
-The date of the last time the writer saw or had knowledge of the petitioner drinking or using a controlled substance. Even prescribed drugs!
-What the writer’s knowledge is of the petitioners past involvement with alcohol and arrests.
-Any other information that the writer believes would be beneficial for the Hearing Officer to know about the petitioner.
Because these letters are absolutely critical to a petitioner’s success at license restoration, hiring an experienced and detail oriented attorney is essential. Only a license restoration lawyer can help you navigate the process, submit proper documents, and prepare you for the hearing.
If you want the best chance of getting your driver’s license back in the Oakland, Wayne, or Macomb county communities of Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, Sterling Heights or any surrounding area, contact Shawn Glaza at The Law Office of Barton Morris today.
Charlotte Steffen specializes in criminal defense and driver’s license restorations. She has been practicing law for nearly 20 years. Her experience includes thousands of criminal cases, including capital offenses and high profile cases. She began her career at the Legal Aid and Defender Association of Detroit, handling the toughest felonies in Wayne County. She went into private practice in 2002 and has continued helping those who need it most.
Charlotte is an adjunct law professor at the Detroit Mercy Law School in the Criminal Trial Clinic. She supervises student attorneys and lectures on drunk driving and driver’s license issues. She is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan in which she helps train lawyers to become trial lawyers.