Common Mistakes Made During Driver’s License Restoration In Michigan

If you get pulled over for drinking and driving, you’ll probably start worrying about what penalties might come with it right away. Am I going to jail? Am I going to have to pay thousands in fines, court costs, and attorney fees? Unfortunately, you probably won’t start worrying about the impact it might have on your driver’s license until it’s too late. But the impact of such a conviction on your driving privileges can be just as crushing on the lives of you and your loved ones as the potential for lengthy jail sentences and hefty fines. The experienced driver’s license restoration attorneys at Grabel & Associates have successfully represented drivers just like you in earning their driving privileges back. But they have also represented people who have tried to do it themselves first. This page is intended to help you understand the common mistakes that those clients have made so that you can avoid them. But, even if you can avoid mistakes like these, we still encourage you to consider whether partnering with Grabel & Associates’ experienced attorneys—as well as our 97% first-time win rate—is the right choice for you.

Examples Of Common Mistakes

The common mistakes drivers make range from submitting documentation without double-checking that it’s complete to showing up for the hearing with the wrong attitude or deliberately lying in hopes of making your case seem stronger. Regardless of the type of mistake, though, the truth is you don’t want to lose your limited chance at getting your license back simply because you made an avoidable mistake.

Incomplete, Incorrectly Filled Out, Or Untimely Paperwork

The documentation you have to prepare and submit before you request a driver’s license hearing is complicated, lengthy, and time-consuming. But the smallest mistakes can turn your entire case on its head. For example, you have to make sure your letters of reference are signed and dated, but you also have to make sure they are notarized. Whether you simply forgot to make sure the letters were notarized or decided the struggle of finding a notary for your writers was a waste of time, the letters of reference need to be notarized.

Another example focuses on the timing of the required paperwork. Because the documentation-gathering process can be so challenging and time-consuming, it can often take a long time to put together all the documents you need before your request for a hearing is ready. However, it’s important to know that all documentation you submit must be less than 90 days old. This means you need to be watching the 90-day clock as you work on the steps to ensure that all of your documentation is accepted by the Secretary of State.

Another common example has to do with making sure that your 10-panel drug screen satisfies Michigan’s administrative rules. Those rules require a minimum of two integrity variables: urine creatinine and specific gravity (as well as others). Unfortunately, many out-of-state facilities do not include these variables. So if you reside outside of Michigan and are seeking clearance to qualify for a driver’s license in another state, you have to be careful to make sure that the drug screen you take includes these necessary integrity variables.

Having The Wrong Attitude Or Being Dishonest

You have to remember that, once you’ve been convicted of multiple operating while intoxicated (“OWI”) offenses, courts and the Secretary of State are going to assume that you have a drinking problem. If you haven’t recognized the same thing and go into the hearing with the mindset that you haven’t done anything wrong, that your driver’s license was wrongly revoked, and that you’re entitled to get it back, you’ll find yourself in an uphill battle very quickly.

Likewise, it’s hard to admit when you have a problem. And the temptation to minimize the problem and maximize your success is strong, and it’s stronger than ever when you know your driving privileges are on the line. You’ll find yourself being tempted to say that your past drinking problem wasn’t as bad as it was. Or you’ll find yourself wanting to exaggerate how long it’s been since you took a drink. But you need to acknowledge and be honest about your past mistakes, and you can’t do that if you aren’t willing to accept responsibility for the same.

In addition to being honest during your substance-abuse evaluation and during the hearing, you also have to be honest with yourself. As a reminder, you can’t apply to have your driver’s license restored until you have maintained at least one year of sobriety. So the question is simple: Have you? It might be tempting to stretch ten months out to a year or not count a minor slip-up before you decide to submit your documentation and ask for a hearing. But being honest about your past problem and current sobriety are absolutely necessary to getting back on the road.

Other Common Mistakes

Other common mistakes we see include the following:

  • failing to start preparing to get your driver’s license back as soon as it’s suspended or revoked,
  • failing to comply with any probation requirements,
  • failing to regularly attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) meetings,
  • driving without a valid driver’s license,
  • failing to use or tampering with a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (“BAIID”),
  • assuming that there are no alternative options to whatever penalties the prosecutor or the Secretary of State seek, and
  • failing to be honest with your attorney.

Hiring The Wrong Attorney

Another common mistake you’ll hear about is failing to hire an experienced attorney. Depending on your specific circumstances, failing to hire an experienced attorney may well be a mistake. But, even if you hire an experienced attorney, that doesn’t necessarily mean it still wasn’t a mistake. You want to make sure that you hire an experienced attorney who is right for you. The experienced attorneys at Grabel & Associates will put in the necessary time investigating your driving and substance-abuse record, they’ll work through all of your written documentation to ensure that it tells the hearing officers everything they need to know, they’ll aggressively defend you during the hearing to ensure that the questions remain positive and focus on all of the progress you’ve made since your conviction, and, ultimately, they will do what it takes to get the result you want at the hearing.

Unfortunately, many people who are trying to decide whether to hire an attorney to help them through the process of getting a driver’s license back focus on the wrong factors when making that decision. First and foremost, they focus on costs. Hiring the lawyer with the lowest fee, simply because they claim to have the lowest fee, is never the right choice. And, oftentimes, their “lowest fee” comes with tons of so-called “fine print,” ultimately destroying the only reason why they hired the lawyer in the first place. Similarly, you don’t want to be tricked by lawyers will catchy slogans or ridiculous promises. The reality is that seeking the restoration of your driver’s license comes with lots of uncertainty, and someone who is willing to make unrealistic promises on the front end usually isn’t the attorney who meets unrealistic—or even realistic—expectations when the case comes to an end.

In a similar vein, you should also seek out a lawyer who you trust. We hear stories all the time about people who hire lawyers but then refuse to follow their advice because they don’t trust their lawyer or don’t believe their lawyer is prepared enough to understand their case. We also hear stories about individuals who hire an attorney but aren’t willing to give their lawyer the whole story. For example, they aren’t comfortable being honest with their lawyer about how long they’ve had a drinking problem or worry that their lawyer won’t understand if they slip up during the sobriety process. But, if you’re going to spend the money it takes to hire an experienced attorney, you need to trust him or her to do what’s best for you. And finally, you can’t be afraid to ask your attorney questions. You hired the attorney to help you, and if you enter the hearing without feeling completely prepared, your attorney simply has not done the job you hired him or her to do.

Rely On Our Experience

The experienced attorneys at Grabel & Associates are some of the most knowledgeable and qualified professionals in the state when it comes to getting you back on the road. Because there are often limitations on the number of times you can try to get your driver’s license back every year, it’s important that you get it right the first time. Our attorneys do that in 97% of all first-time driver’s license hearings. If you want to put our experience on your side and avoid all of the common mistakes described above, consider taking the next step by contacting us online or call us at our 24/7 defense hotline at 1-800-342-7896 today.


Please note: Recently DLAD/DAAD changed their name to the Administrative Hearings Section (AHS). Common use of the name AHS has not yet been widely accepted and the entity responsible for driver’s license hearings is still referred to as DLAD/DAAD in almost all legal areas, which is why we continue to use the term “DLAD/DAAD” throughout our website. More information about this change can be found at the Michigan Secretary of State’s website here.

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