After your Request for Hearing and the accompanying documents have been filed, we’ll receive a notice for your hearing date. As noted in the previous section, we’ll schedule a “prep session,” usually the day before, to get ready for your driver’s license hearing. Therefore, when it starts, you’ll be ready for both the hearing in general, and the specific hearing officer assigned to decide your case.
At its most basic, the driver’s license hearing is an opportunity for the hearing officer to confirm the information that you have provided in your substance use evaluation and letters of support. He or she will question the details in your substance use evaluation (SUE) and letters of support, as well.
Beyond that, the hearing officer is going to drill down on your prior use of alcohol and drugs. It may sound trite, but they have their ways of determining if what they’re hearing is true, or being “spun” in some way to sound more favorable.
This is important. The hearing officers know that people are going to try and pass off all kinds of BS to them. As one hearing office puts it, “I expect to get lied to.” This means that doing well is not just about saying the right things, or NOT saying the wrong things. Instead, what matters is that what you say is true. When you think about it, distinguishing fact from fiction is the most important skill a hearing officer must develop.
The driver’s license hearing itself will start, like all legal proceedings, with the hearing officer “calling” the case. Rather than explain it, let’s use a hypothetical example for our imaginary client, Joe Blow, his lawyer, Lisa Snow (Attorney Snow) and an imaginary hearing officer, Jane Doe (Hearing officer) :
Hearing officer: This is the case of Joe Blow, case number 2040-54321. Today is June 1, 2040 (we’re using imaginary dates, as well), and this is a hearing to consider restoration of driving privileges following a revocation for 2 or more alcohol-related driving convictions effective May 27, 2034. I’m hearing officer Doe. Can I have the parties identify themselves, starting with the petitioner’s counsel:
Attorney Snow: Good afternoon, Ms. Doe, Lisa Snow, attorney for Joe Blow
Joe Blow: My name is Joe Blow.
Hearing officer: Mr. Blow, can you provide your address for the record?
Joe Blow : Yes, I live at 12345 Elm Street, Somewhere, Michigan, 49876.
Hearing Officer: Okay, thank you. I’m going to go over what evidence I have. Listen carefully to make sure I have everything….
At this point, the hearing officer will read aloud the titles of the documents that have been submitted and mark them as formal exhibits, as well as the person’s driving record and anything else in the Secretary of State’s file. Let’s rejoin:
Hearing Officer: I have a substance use evaluation dated March 6, 2040 completed by Ms. Tina the Therapist, along with the testing instrument she used and a 12-panel urinalysis that is negative for all substances and is for normal creatine and gravity. That will be marked as exhibit 4.
In addition, I have 4 letters of support; the first is dated and notarized March, 2, 2040, by Linda Armstrong. The next is….
The hearing officer will then read off the date of the rest of the letters, observing whether each has been properly dated notarized, and identify the letter writer, as shown in the example above, and mark each as an exhibit.
Then, he or she will ask if there will be any witnesses who will testify.
It is important here to point out that presenting a witness is 100% a huge and amateur mistake of the first order. Anyone filing a license appeal should NEVER call a witness at a driver’s license hearing. Anything helpful a witness could every say can be put in a letter of support. Unlike witnesses, however, letters don’t get confused, nervous, or otherwise don’t screw up under questioning – but people do.
Once these preliminaries are over, the hearing officer will “swear in” the petitioner, and then the formal hearing begins. Some hearing officers start out asking questions, and will only hand the floor to the lawyer when they’re done
Other hearing officers do it the opposite way, having the lawyer open with his or her own questions, and will then follow up with their own afterward.
However it plays out, there are certain “core” questions that each of the 9 hearing officer will ask (and/or want asked) at every driver’s license hearing. These include things like:
- When is the last time you consumed any alcohol?
- Are you currently on probation for any offense?
- Do you have any pending traffic violations outstanding anywhere?
- If you are in AA, Do you have a sponsor? If not, Why not?
- What was your heaviest period of drinking?
- What did you usually drink and how much?
- Aside from this current period, what was your longest period of sobriety, if any, in the past?
Beyond that, depending on which of the 9 hearing officers you get, there will also be certain areas of specific interest that he or she will ask about. For example, one of the current hearing officers has a strong interest in anyone’s prior marijuana use, even it was a single time, decades ago. Another will dig down into several key questions that can be found on one of the more well-known alcohol screening tests (more properly called a diagnostic screening instrument).
Eventually, this question and answer exchange is complete (a typical driver’s license hearing usually last less than 1/2 hour), and it fall to us, as the lawyers, to make a closing statement.
Here, we’ll sum up what’s been covered, and also point out some of the strongest points in a person’s evidence. Remember, our firm GUARANTEES TO WIN every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take. We don’t do that by sitting there, like a bump on a log. We go in ready to do what’s necessary in order to win.
Once the closing statement has been made, the driver’s license hearing concludes. The formal decision will arrive in the mail several weeks later.
Let me be clear on one point: Winning your license restoration or clearance appeal case isn’t just about having the “right” answer to those questions, but about being honest. The hearing officers know what they’re doing. They fully anticipate that people are going to make all kinds of claims about having quit drinking and otherwise try to BS their way through the process. As I pointed out in the previous section, one hearing officer has said “I expect to get lied to.”
Their job is to sort through everyone and find those who are genuinely sober. This means people who can prove, by what the law defines as “clear and convincing evidence,” that they have been completely abstinent from alcohol and all other substances (including and especially recreational marijuana) and are otherwise a safe bet to remain abstinent permanently, as in for life.
As a Michigan license restoration lawyers who handle over 200 license appeals per year, my team and I know how nervous a person can be as they think about their upcoming driver’s license hearing. A key part of our job is to remind you how much preparation we have done up to that point, and that there is no reason to be nervous, because we are going in to tell the truth about your recovery,
We will also remind you that everything we’ve done up to that point has been done correctly, and that this hearing is just the icing on the cake. This means that we’re going in to WIN.
All you’ll have to do is tell the truth.
Finally, we’ll reassure you that we’ll will be there with you at your driver’s license hearing, and if anything even starts to go off course, we’ll be right on top of it. We’ll be right there to protect you..
Notice there is no talk in this section about losing a case. While there are no guarantees in life, there IS a guarantee that, if we take your case, you will win. That makes us equally investing in success as our clients.
You simply can’t do better than that.