Appeal Driver’s License Denial to Circuit Court
If you lost your Michigan driver’s license appeal at the Secretary of State hearing office, you may be able to appeal your driver’s license denial to the circuit court. Many times people choose to represent themselves at the hearing and make mistakes that could have been easily avoided. Moreover, your license denial may be the result of hiring a lawyer that does not specialize in license appeals. This article explains how to appeal your driver’s license denial to circuit court.
When you lose your DAAD hearing, you must wait one year before you can file another appeal to the Secretary of State. However, Under MCL 257.323(4), license revocations can be set aside by the Circuit Court only if the your substantial rights had been prejudiced because the Departmental determination was:
- In violation of the Constitution of the United States, the State constitution of 1963, or a statute.
- In excess of the Secretary of State’s statutory authority or jurisdiction.
- Made upon unlawful procedure resulting in material prejudice to the petitioner.
- Not supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence on the whole record.
- Arbitrary, capricious, or clearly an abuse, or unwarranted exercise, of discretion.
- Affected by other substantial and material error of law.
If you have lost your license appeal with the Secretary of State, you should have received a denial order in the mail. The denial order contains the hearing officer’s reasons for your denial. When you hire a driver’s license appeal lawyer, he or she will review the order to find the legal errors. If the hearing officer violated one of the 6 principles stated above, you can appeal your driver’s license denial to the circuit court.
You cannot skip the DAAD hearing and go to circuit court. You must first file for and attend the Secretary of State hearing.
Your Hearing Transcripts Must be Ordered from the State
When you hire a Michigan Driver’s License Appeal lawyer he or she will need to obtain all of the records that you submitted for the hearing. Additionally, your lawyer will need the transcripts of your testimony. A thorough review of the denial order, records, and your testimony will form the basis of your appeal.
The transcripts will be delivered to your lawyer’s office. It takes approximately 50 days to receive the documents. A request for a transcript of a driver license appeal hearing should be sent to:
Michigan Department of State
Administrative Hearings Section
P.O. Box 30196
Lansing, MI 48909-7696
Deadlines and Appeal Brief Requirements
An appeal of a driver’s license denial used to proceed by petition in the Macomb County Circuit Court. In fact, the SOS guidelines still call it a petition. It does depend on jurisdiction. For example, the Macomb County Circuit Court treats the appeal as a direct appeal. In that sense, the appellate rules must be followed.
When you hire a license lawyer to appeal your driver’s license denial to the Macomb County Circuit Court, he or she must file a “claim of appeal.” Essentially, this is an announcement to the court that you will be seeking an appeal from a decision from an administrative hearing.
- The claim of appeal must be filed within 63 days after the final determination is made except that for good cause shown, the court may allow filing a petition within 182 days. Roberts v Secretary of State, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued February 2, 1999 (Docket No. 205616).
There is a $150.00 filing fee for the court. Each claim of appeal must include the following or else be rejected by the court:
- person’s full name
- current address
- birth date
- driver’s license number.
- The driver’s license denial order
- the appeal brief
- request for oral argument
The claim of appeal and brief must be sent to the Michigan Secretary of State:
Secretary of State’s, 430 West Allegan Street, P.O. Box 30196, Lansing, MI 48909-7696.
The Secretary of State’s Representation
Depending upon the jurisdiction, the State of Michigan will be represented by the local prosecutor’s office or the attorney general’s office. The responding party will file a written response and appear in court for the appeal.
The Circuit Court Appeal
In order to successfully appeal your MI driver’s license denial to circuit court, you must show that the hearing officer made a mistake. While most of the hearing officers are very thorough, a denial order will often contain errors that warrant relief. This means that the hearing officer made a mistake that should allow the court to reverse your Michigan driver’s license denial.
A driver’s license appeal to circuit court will focus on the errors as argued to the court by your lawyer. The appeal is focused on the arguments and evidence used at the administrative/DAAD hearing. An important change in law allows the court to consider supplemental evidence. After the briefs are filed, but before the appeal hearing date, the circuit court judge will review the denial order, legal briefs and hearing transcript.
Our office sees errors in the denial order quite frequently. Many hearing should have gone in the petitioner’s favor. As a license restoration lawyer I can find the errors. That is why it is important that your lawyer understand the legal basis for an appeal to circuit court. Simply wishing for a different outcome is not a basis for an appeal. A successful appeal must be based on legal errors and/or an abuse of discretion by the hearing officer. The circuit court judge cannot substitute his or her judgment for the hearing officer’s judgment. But, the circuit court judge can reverse the denial upon a finding that the hearing officer abused his or her discretion. It is of paramount importance that you hire a lawyer with driver’s license appeal expertise. Your lawyer must be able to show that the hearing officer abused his or her discretion when the hearing officer applied the administrative rules to your case.
As discussed above, the rules are discussed in Michigan statute MCL 257.323. Section (4) specifically states that the Secretary of State’s determination regarding your Michigan Driver’s License appeal denial may be set aside by the Circuit Court only if your substantial rights have been prejudiced according to the 6 factors cited above.
Relief granted by the Circuit Court
In the Michigan driver’s license appeal, the circuit court can take the following actions:
- uphold the decision of the hearing officer
- remand for an immediate hearing (usually within 60 days);
- grant you a full license
- grant a restricted license with an interlock device
In our experience, the court does not usually uphold the hearing officer’s denial. Also, the court rarely grants a petitioner full driving privileges.
The court does, however, remand for an immediate hearing. This is beneficial because you do not have to wait for another year to have an administrative hearing at the DAAD. Usually, you can save 6 months time. This time is critical especially if you need a driver’s license for work, family, etc.
The circuit court can grant you a restricted license, the same as if you won at the DAAD hearing. On August 15, 2016, a new law will gave the circuit judge additional authority to review Michigan driver’s license appeal denials. The expanded authority allows judges to take additional testimony to supplement the record which had previously been limited to only the transcript and filings before the SOS hearing officer.
This benefits you greatly. While the circuit court can still grant full driving privileges, which it rarely does, it now has the authority to grant restricted privileges. If the court grants you a restricted license, you will be required to install an interlock device (BAIID) in your car for 1 year they operate for a period of at least 1 year. This new authority, if utilized by a skilled license restoration lawyer, should result into reinstatement of more driving privileges.
The Benefit of Hiring a Lawyer with Driver’s License Appeal Expertise
If this is your first time seeking restoration of your driving privileges, you should hire a lawyer. For example in 97% of the case handled by our office, we win at the first appeal hearing. Expertise counts.
If you are genuinely sober and can support that statement with documentation we guarantee we will win at the first hearing. Your choice of lawyer has to understand and have experience with the Michigan administrative rules. We certainly do.
In nearly all of the driver’s license appeals that our office does when someone has represented himself or herself, or hired another lawyer, we can find the errors. Most of the time, these errors could have been easily avoided with proper preparation and representation. So, if you get it right the first time, you do not have to be concerned with an appeal to circuit court.
If you have lost your driver’s license appeal at the DAAD hearing office, we will still be able to help you. At the very least you will be able to get back to the DAAD hearing in a short amount of time. The next time you go to the hearing you will be well prepared because you have hired an office that specializes in license restoration. Since the court now has the authority to grant a restricted license, you may leave the circuit court knowing that you can drive again. In any event, you will be better off than you were the first time.
If you have been to a DAAD hearing and lost, either alone or with an attorney, you can see that winning your driver’s license is not an easy matter.
In order to ensure your best chance at winning you must consult with a driver’s license restoration lawyer. A lawyer with expertise will make sure you are well prepared, organized and the documents will be correct.
James E. Czarnecki II (586) 718-2345
Genevieve L. Taylor (586) 350-6044