The petition to obtain driving privileges is a legal proceeding where you must prove by clear and convincing evidence that you will never drink and drive again. You are required to submit letters, a drug screen, a substance abuse evaluation, and your own paperwork. You are also required to provide live testimony in support of your paperwork. If you live outside the State of Michigan then you may be able to avoid a hearing with a Secretary of State Administrative Law Judge. A lawyer’s role is to facilitate the preparation and filing of a successful petition and to oversee the testimony and presentation of evidence at the live hearing.
A license restoration attorney will guide you through the entire process, beginning with a determination of eligibility. Sometimes, even if the necessary time period has passed, you still will be unable to meet your burden of proof and a good lawyer will advise you of this, and what steps might be necessary to make you eligible. This is because many hidden issues can impact your eligibility to even petition for privileges. While just generally knowing your driving record should aid in this determination, many times it is beneficial to obtain a full driving history from the Secretary of State and then to discuss your eligibility with your lawyer.
Further, the attorney will aid you in understanding the requirements that must be met to obtain privileges. This is important to understand before you even start to compile your evidence. We have often found that clients who attempt to begin assembling evidence prior to hiring a lawyer make mistakes that only create delay. Unfortunately, this self-help is generally a wasted effort and will not save you money as most legal fees for these matters are “flat fees” that include all the preparation. It is rarely helpful for you to begin the efforts yourself because the actual requirements are much more specific and detailed than most people realize. It is always the most efficient practice to retain the attorney as soon as you can. This way your lawyer can begin working on your case and getting you ready long before you are even eligible for a hearing. This will result in avoiding an unnecessary waste of time and money and in your getting your license as soon as possible.
After explaining what evidence is required, your attorney will be able to review and offer suggestions to ensure that all of the evidence requirements are met. For example, you lawyer can review your letters of support to ensure that they follow your evidentiary standard, prepare your petition with an eye toward consistency and detail, and review also your substance abuse evaluation and drug screen. Because some substance use counselors are not well versed in this area of practice, they make mistakes or leave out important information. The attorney may therefore recommend counselors who have a proven track record of providing proper evaluations and drug screens. Only after a thorough review and correction process regarding all of your documentary evidence will your attorney submit the petition for restoration of driving privileges to the Driver Assessment and Appeals Division of the Michigan Secretary of State.
Finally, the attorney will appear with you at the license restoration hearing. This will include preparing you for the specific format and questions that will be asked of you by your lawyer and the Administrative Law Judge. Your lawyer will also provide you with specific information about each hearing officer that will aid you in preparation and help to ensure you are presenting your evidence in the most effective manner. Preparation is key and a good license restoration attorney will know exactly how to prepare for the Administrative Law Judge who will be deciding your fate.