Michigan is the birthplace of the automotive industry. Its cities, townships, and rural areas have been designed with cars in mind. While public transportation does exist in some areas, the system is often limited and disconnected. As a result, getting around without a driver’s license is challenging and time-consuming. It involves patience, planning, and creates a reliance on friends, family, and coworkers. The overall experience can be quite a burden. Yet, with proper legal representation, you can ensure that the inconvenience is only a temporary one.
Restoration Is Not Automatic
Unlike a suspended license, a revoked license is not automatically reinstated. To have a revoked license restored in Michigan, you must initiate an appeal process with the state. The bar is high; you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that:
• You no longer abuse alcohol or drugs.
• Your likelihood of recidivism is low.
• Your risk of driving while under the influence of intoxicants in minimal.
• You are motivated to drive safely and within law.
• You have the ability to drive safely and within the law.
The high standard of “clear and convincing evidence” means that the evidence is substantially more likely to be true than untrue. Reaching this burden of proof is not easy and almost always requires an experienced lawyer’s precision.
Representation is Crucial to Success
Driver’s license restoration is a complex legal matter. The Secretary of State’s office has strict and inflexible guidelines for successfully making a case. For these reasons alone, finding the right attorney is the first and most important decision in the process. As illustrated at the end of this article, Grabel & Associates has the experience, winning track record, and written guarantee that will make your decision to hire us a positive one.
Are You Eligible?
A person is allowed to apply for license restoration only after the proper time frame has passed. In most cases, the eligibility date is a minimum of one year from the date on which the license was revoked. In some cases, the wait is a minimum of five years.
Once the eligibility date has been reached, the state likes to see at least six months of voluntary sobriety. These six months are in addition to the applicable revocation period (remaining sober during the revocation period is deemed mandatory and thus not voluntary by the state).
Grabel & Associates cuts to the chase by reviewing your official driving record to pinpoint the exact eligibility date. We will work with you to ensure ideal timing.
The license restoration process is administered through the Secretary of State’s Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight. Ultimately, your case will go before a hearing officer. Prior to the hearing, there is a great deal of heavy lifting to be done in the form of case preparation.
Preparing for the Hearing
Hearing preparation consists of four major steps, each of which contributes to the establishment of clear and convincing evidence that you are fit to drive again:
1. 10-Panel Drug Screen + Substance Abuse Evaluation
2. Documentation of Sobriety
3. Evidence of Support
4. Finalization of the File/Request for Hearing
A 10-Panel Drug Screen (conducted by urinalysis) is mandated to show that you have not recently consumed alcohol or other intoxicants, including but not limited to amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cannabis, cocaine, methadone, methaqualone, opioids, phencyclidine, and propoxyphene. Detection times vary for each substance; abstention is paramount. Your case cannot go forward successfully unless you show negative results on all drugs (including alcohol) tested.
The drug screen results will be reviewed by a state-licensed substance abuse counselor. This review is part of the comprehensive Substance Abuse Evaluation, in which the counselor issues a report that details the your substance abuse history, support network, and healthy coping strategies. The report is later reviewed by the hearing officer who makes the ultimate decision on restoration of the driver’s license. Therefore, it is very import that the report clearly indicates a sober lifestyle free of drugs and alcohol.
The next step involves collecting Documentation of Sobriety. This documentation requires four to eight notarized letters from friends, family members, coworkers, and/or support group leaders who can attest to your sobriety. In order to be effective, these letters should contain key information such as the person’s relationship to you, how long they have known you, and the last time they saw you consume drugs or alcohol. The attorneys at Grabel & Associates have vast experience working with correspondence in this format. They will expertly review each letter to ensure that it is as strong as possible.
Finally, you will need Evidence of Support that demonstrates active engagement in efforts and strategies to maintain your sobriety. Documents meeting these criteria include attendance sheets from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) meetings. Letters from AA sponsors are especially effective since they count towards the documentation of sobriety and as evidence of support.
Once all of the above information is harnessed, it is time to Finalize the File and Request a Hearing. This crucial step requires the completion of several government forms, with exceptional attention to detail. Any errors or omissions will result in the Secretary of State’s refusal to schedule a hearing, which sets the process back by months.
Typically, the hearing date is scheduled 60 to 90 days after the hearing request packet has been submitted to the Secretary of State. You will receive notification of the hearing date in the mail two to three weeks in advance.
It is at the hearing where you must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that you have made the life changes necessary to be a safe, responsible, and sober driver. Specifically, you will need to show the hearing officer that you no longer abuse alcohol or drugs; that the likelihood of future abuse is low; that the risk of driving while under the influence of intoxicants is minimal; and that you are motivated and have the ability to drive safely and within the law.
The Secretary of State’s office has different hearing officers in different regions of Michigan. Each has his/her own style of conducting public hearings. Fortunately, Grabel & Associates has experience representing clients in front of each and every hearing officer in Michigan. We know how to prepare for success regardless of which hearing officer is assigned to your case.
Once your case is heard, the Secretary of State issues a determination within four to six weeks. More often than not, Grabel & Associates gets the result that you want. We have a 97 percent success rate in driver’s license restoration hearings.
Now That You Are Eligible, Can You Afford Not Driving?
Once you are eligible to apply for a driver’s license restoration, it is important to do it right. If your appeal is denied, you have to wait an entire year before reapplying.
Hiring an experienced attorney is essential to your success. Grabel & Associates has specialized in this area of law for over 15 years. In addition to understanding the legal nuances of the process, we know how important a successful resolution is to you, your family, and your friends. We understand and appreciate what you are going through. We will guide you through each step of the process, making it as stress-free as possible.
When you choose Grabel & Associates, your initial consultation is free. We also guarantee results. If your driver’s license is not restored at the first hearing, we will continue to represent you until it is. When considering Grabel & Associates, please keep in mind that we have:
• A 97 percent success rate in Driver’s License Restoration Hearings.
• Familiarity with each and every hearing officer in Michigan.
• A written guarantee for our clients.
• A statewide practice. Whether you’re in Monroe or Houghton, St. Joseph or Sault Ste. Marie, we have attorneys who can help you.
Making the phone call is the first step toward getting your license back. Contact us online or at our 24/7 defense hotline at 1-800-342-7896 so we can get to work helping you get your life back.
In the meantime, don’t drive without a license. New tickets and criminal offenses will only complicate and delay any future restoration efforts.