Part 4 of 5: Michigan Driver’s License Restorations, The Hearing at the Driver License Appeal Division

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The final step in the Michigan driver license restoration process is the appearance at the hearing with your lawyer. The revoked party will be required to provide sworn testimony before the hearing officer. We like to meet with our clients at least 15 minutes prior to the hearing to review pertinent questions and become comfortable with the surroundings.

The hearings are held in many locations throughout the State of Michigan. Our firm regularly appears at the DLAD hearing locations in Clinton Township, Livonia and Port Huron. The hearings held at the Livonia DLAD are “live” hearings while the hearings in Port Huron are closed circuit video conference hearings. A party can present additional documentation-evidence on the day of the hearing at the Livonia location but not at the Port Huron location. All evidence must be submitted before the hearing at a location which employs video conferencing.

A hearing will be held in a small office with your attorney and a hearing officer in attendance. The hearing officer is an attorney who works for the Michigan Secretary of State. For all purposes, the hearing officer is the judge and jury. It is our job to present all of the evidence and testimony in an organized and persuasive manner. In addition, a closing argument to sum up the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing is often made after all of the proofs are presented. The hearing officer cannot award a restricted license to someone unless the burden of proof is satisfied by clear and convincing evidence.

The burden of proof as provided by Michigan law, known as Rule 313:
a. Alcohol or substance abuse problems if any are under control and likely to remain under control.

b. That the risk of petitioner repeating his past conduct is low or minimal
c. That the risk of petitioner repeating the act of operating under the influence is low or minimal.

d. That the petitioner has the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.

e. At least 6 consecutive months of abstinence or for a period of not less than 12 consecutive months if the evidence at the hearing establishes that a longer period is required such as: a chemical test more than twice the legal limit, 3 or more alcohol/drug convictions or diagnosis of dependency.

We advise our clients to have a good attitude at the hearing and to be prepared to talk about sensitive personal matters such as substance abuse problems, lifestyle changes and plan for lifetime sobriety. It is not unusual for a client to be brought to tears at the hearing when asked to testify about the past which may involve divorce, the death of a loved one or going to jail.
A witness may be called to testify at the hearing on behalf of a person seeking restoration of his or her driver’s license. A witness should be someone that is familiar with one’s sobriety and lifestyle changes. Almost anyone can appear as a witness at the hearing including a spouse, friend, AA sponsor or parent. Our attorneys discuss the possible testimony of a witness in advance to avoid surprise testimony that can compromise a case. There are certain circumstances when a negative witness can jeopardize an otherwise winnable case.

The hearings usually take about 40 to 60 minutes. During this time, the revoked party will be asked questions by his or her attorney and by the hearing officer. The attorney and the hearing officer may also question the revoked party about the evidence which has been submitted. Most of the Livonia hearing officers will allow your own attorney to ask you the primary questions and then the hearing officer will cross examine a party for more details. Many clients feel that they are being interrogated by the hearing officer. This is really unfair since the hearing officer cannot order a license restoration unless the revoked party meets the burden of proof required by Michigan law as I have mentioned.

A decision can be provided upon the conclusion of the hearing. However, most hearing officers do not issue a decision immediately as they need time to review all of the testimony and documentation which has been submitted. Therefore, the decision of the hearing officer is usually provided by mail within 1 to 2 weeks after the hearing. The ABDO LAW FIRM knows how to meet the burden of proof before the DLAD. Phone: 586-412-5555.

Part 1: Michigan License Restorations, Building A Mountain With Positive Evidence
Part 2: Michigan License Restorations, Initial Preparation
Part 3: Michigan License Restorations, Getting Organized, Reviewing Questions
Part 4: Michigan License Restorations, The Hearing Part 5: Michigan License Restorations, The Decision By The DLAD and Appeal Rights