If you have lost your license because of multiple drinking and driving offenses, you may have heard that it is difficult to win your MI driver’s license appeal. This article will explain why.
Why is a MI driver’s license appeal so difficult to win?
Let us start off this discussion with the reality of a MI driver’s license appeal. The hearing officer is looking for any reason to deny you a license. Since you have committed multiple drinking driving offenses, the hearing officer believes that you are a danger to yourself and others. Even though the administrative rules allow for an appeal after a year or five years, depending on the revocation time, you are realistically suspended for life until you win the hearing. The administrative rules state that it is your burden to prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that any alcohol problem is under control and likely to remain that way. So, before the hearing has started, the hearing officer has determined that you have lost until you have met your burden of proof. Those reasons make it difficult win your MI driver’s license appeal.
With the bad news out of the way, it is time for the good news. You can win your MI driver’s license appeal at the first hearing. A win does require diligent preparation.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
As stated, it is your burden to prove that any alcohol problem is under control and will remain that way. You must convince the hearing officer that he or she is wrong about prejudging you.
Attention to detail and thorough preparation will ensure your success. At this point in our discussion I would like to explain a little about the burden of proof. The burden of proof is what makes a license appeal difficult to win. the burden of proof is what you have to overcome in order to win the hearing.
There are different burdens of proof for different legal proceedings. In criminal cases, for example, the prosecution must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you committed the offense. This standard is the most difficult standard to overcome. Unlike a criminal case, in a MI driver’s license appeal, you have to prove your case by “clear and convincing” evidence. As stated, the hearing officer must start out with the presumption that you will not get your license back. The hearing officer will not grant you a license until you prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that you are sober. While the burden of proof is not as high as “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it is the next highest standard.
Since it your burden to prove “clearly and convincingly” that you are sober, it is critically important that you thoroughly prepare all of your evidence, including your testimony. Before you, or your attorney sends your materials to the DAAD, the paperwork must be checked and double checked to make sure there are no errors. For example, your sobriety date must be consistent with the date in your substance abuse evaluation report and letters. Your reference letters and substance abuse evaluation must persuasively detail your commitment to sobriety. The letters of reference must explain, in detail, how your life has changed for the better since you have abstained from alcohol. Since the hearing officer is looking to deny you, any inconsistency or flaw in your paperwork will cause you to lose. This fact is certain.
Unfortunately, many people think they can successfully represent themselves at the hearing. The appeal process is not that easy. The administrative rules are complex. Moreover, without much experience, a person would not know how to respond to a question or legal issue. A driver’s license restoration has the benefit of expertise. That expertise should eliminate all errors.
You must remember that any error that resulted in a previous denial will be revisited at the next hearing. If you have an experienced attorney with you, he or she will make sure the record is so clear that you should win the first time. Even if you lost the appeal with an attorney because the hearing officer abused his or her discretion, you should win your driving privileges back in a circuit court appeal because the record will show you should have won and the hearing officer was wrong. Thorough preparation ensures that all of your evidence is consistent.
Our office expects to win every MI driver’s license appeal. We know what the Secretary of State and the hearing officers are looking for regarding the evidence. We approach every MI driver’s license appeal with the understanding that the hearing officer is looking for a reason to issue a denial order. Our 97%+ success rate backs up our belief. That is why we guarantee we will win at the first hearing.
Since we begin each MI driver’s license appeal with the knowledge the hearing officer presumes you will lose, we prepare you to win. The hearing officer believes that anyone with multiple drinking and driving convictions is a safety risk. Combine that belief with the hearing officer’s presumption you will lose, you can now see why it is hard to win the hearing.
Hiring an experienced attorney tilts the scales in your favor. We help prepare the evidence to clearly and convincingly show that you have worked hard to maintain and obtain sobriety. We will show that you are genuinely sober. Make no mistake, the hearing officer WILL NOT grant you a license if you drink socially, rarely, or even just a small toast at a wedding. The state assumes that your multiple drinking and driving offenses indicates you have a problem with alcohol. The administrative rules require 12 months of uninterrupted sobriety. There is no way around that rule.
If you testify that you can control your drinking and minimize the consumption – you will lose. Even if you believe that you do not have a problem with alcohol and testify to that fact – you will lose. Rightly or wrongly, those are the administrative rules. There is no way around the rules since you have to overcome the burden of proof at the hearing. Actual and genuine sobriety, uninterrupted, is the only way to win. That is what the rules require. To answer the question posed in the title of the article, a MI driver’s license appeal is hard to win because the state wants it that way. That is why the administrative rules are written so strict.
The hearing officer knows the statistics. Essentially, the odds of maintaining your sobriety are against you. We want to prove that belief wrong. Again, any person convicted of multiple drinking and driving offense is considered a habitual offender under the law and administrative rules. That is why you need to demonstrate absolute sobriety.
In another article I explained that alcohol can lead to poor decisions. Specifically, the decision to drink and drive. That is why the hearing officer believes alcohol is a problem in your life that must be overcome. The hearing officer wants to make sure that if you are back on the road you do not present a risk to yourself or others. According to the administrative rules then, the only way to have your driving privileges restored is to show clearly and convincingly that you will not drink -ever again. Those are the rules. Again, this is why it is difficult to win MI driver’s license appeal. I know this article keeps repeating this point, but it is critical to success.
The rule that I have mentioned many times in this article is Administrative Rule 13. It can be found here. Admin. Rule 13. If you review the rule, you can see how complex and detailed it is written. The “deck” is stacked against you. The following is just a brief excerpt of Rule 13.
R 257.313 Standards for issuance of license. Rule 13.
(1) With respect to an appeal hearing that involves a review of a determination of the department which results in a denial or revocation under section 303(1)(d), (e), or (f) or (2)(c), (d), (e), or (f) of the act, all of the following provisions apply:
(a) The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following: (i) That the petitioner’s alcohol or substance abuse problems, if any, are under control and likely to remain under control. (ii) That the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk. (iii) That the risk of the petitioner repeating the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by, or under the influence of, alcohol or controlled substances or a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance or repeating any other offense listed in section 303(1) (d), (e), or (f) or (2) (c), (d), (e), or (f) of the act is a low or minimal risk. (iv) That the petitioner has the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law. (v) Other showings that are relevant to the issues identified in paragraphs (i) to (iv) of this subdivision.
(b) Before ordering that a license be issued to the petitioner, the hearing officer shall require that the petitioner prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that he or she has completely abstained from the use of alcohol and controlled substances, except for controlled substances prescribed by a licensed health care professional, for a period of not less than 6 consecutive months or has abstained for a period of not less than 12 consecutive months if the evidence considered at the hearing establishes that a longer period of abstinence is necessary.
As you can see, the rules place the burden on you. The two highlighted sections specifically shows why winning a MI driver’s license appeal is difficult. I want to focus on the most important part of the statute. When statutes are written, each word has to be carefully considered. The key words in subsection (a) are “shall not” and “unless.” The law tells the hearing officer that he or she cannot grant a license unless you have met your burden of proof, that is, clearly and convincingly any alcohol problem is under control and likely to remain that way.
Section (b) is essentially the same. The hearing officer cannot grant you a license unless you have 12 months of documented and uninterrupted sobriety.
In short, in order to win your MI driver’s license appeal, you must show you will not drink again. There are no exceptions to subsections (a) and (b).
As you can see, the State of Michigan has made it difficult to win a MI driver’s license appeal. License appeals are not supposed to be easy to win. This is why you should not attempt the process alone. I want you to read another article I wrote explaining that “sobriety” is the key to success. You will find it informative. Article
Winning a license appeal is difficult because you have to overcome the burden of proof. I want to end this article with a positive thought. Even though the state has a rule that you “shall” be denied “unless….” and presumes that you will lose, our clients are the exceptions to that rule. Yes, it is hard to win a MI driver’s license appeal. This article explains why. However, our office – wins. We win over 97% of the time. In fact, we guarantee we will win.
We treat our clients differently. We take the time to explain your MI driver’s license appeal obligations. We explain how to win.
You can reach our office 24-7/365 to discuss your license restoration. We have weekend and evening appointment availability. Flexible payment plans.
JAMES E. CZARNECKI II (586) 718-2345
GENEVIEVE L. TAYLOR (586) 350-6044