Recent news reports have suggested House Bill 4436 (HB4436) would allow for a person to petition the Circuit Court to get a restricted driver’s license without having to go to the Driver’s Appeal and Assessment Division (DAAD) of the Secretary of State. Some media outlets have used amnesty to describe the effect of the bill. HB4436 is not an amnesty program. It is however a second chance to get a restricted license from Circuit Court after being denied from the DAAD.
Before January 1, 1992, many attorneys took their clients to circuit court for relief from a revocation on the basis of hardship. A hardship appeal is generally accepted to be one based on a lack of public transportation and the lack of friends or family who can provide the transportation necessary for a person whose license was revoked to get to work, school, court-ordered activities, medical appointments and alcohol- rehabilitative activities. By filing the case in circuit court, an attorney was able to request a full or restricted license in almost every circumstance.
According to the Secretary of State’s Driver License Appeals Practice Manual, circuit courts granted relief to petitioners 85 percent of the time before January 1, 1992. When the amendments went into effect on January 1, 1992, the circuit court was prevented from granting full or partial restoration of driving privileges on the basis of hardship to anyone who committed a drunk-driving offense on or after that date.
The high number of appeals granted was one reason the Secretary of State sought a change in circuit court jurisdiction that required petitioners to exhaust their administrative remedies before proceeding in circuit court. As a result, circuit court jurisdiction has been reduced over the years As of October 1, 1999, the circuit courts could no longer able to grant relief from revocations on the basis of hardship for revocations except, as noted earlier, for a person whose last offense occurred before January 1, 1992.
Currently HB4436 is a step closer to Pre-October 1, 1999. HB4436 goes into effect August 15, 2016. Under the current law, Circuit Courts have the ability to remand the case back to DAAD for a new hearing, grant a full license or deny petitions made to them. After August 15, 2016, the Circuit Courts will now have the ability to grant restricted licenses to those petitioners that can prove to the Circuit Court they are eligible.
Petitioners at the circuit court level must meet the standards set forth in MCL 257.323(4), which allows appeals to the circuit court only if the Secretary of State’s action was:
- In violation of the United States or State Constitution,
- In excess of the Secretary of State’s statutory authority or jurisdiction,
- Made upon unlawful procedure resulting in material prejudice to the petitioner,
- Not supported by substantial, material, and competent evidence on the whole record,
- Arbitrary, capricious, or clearly an abuse or unwarranted exercise of discretion, or
- Affected by any other substantial and material error of law.
HB4436 provides a chance to a petitioner aggrieved by the Hearing Officer at DAAD to get a review of the Hearing Officer’s decision. The wording of HB4436 is complicated and contains language that can be argued to allow for petitions to Circuit Court without going to DAAD. However, prior to writing this blog, I contacted the Bill’s Sponsor, Representative Peter J. Lucido. His office as well as himself were very kind and accommodating in explaining the background and purpose of the bill. After discussing this matter with them and other sources, I am confident HB4436 requires an attempt to restore driving privileges in DAAD before filing in Circuit Court.