Monday May 11
Driver’s Assessment and Appeals Division (DAAD) Many attorneys take cases regarding DAAD or DLAD hearings, but you should be careful when you are choosing your attorney. In the last several years, the DAAD or DLAD has changed many of the forms necessary for the hearing. In October 2012, the request for hearing from was drastically changed from a one page form to an eight page form requiring very specific and detailed information. In September 2011, the Secretary of State overhauled the Substance Abuse Evaluation Form. The last Driver’s License and Appeal Manual for the Michigan Secretary of State was revised in 2005. Since there is no real reference manual, the only way to know the changes in the rules is through experience. Your attorney should know there are new forms and how to find them. Your attorney should have the name of at least one substance abuse evaluators at his fingertips. Your attorney should know it is necessary for all of the letters to be dated, signed, and notarized. The letters need to establish the sobriety dates for drugs and alcohol. When submitting your documentation to the Secretary of State, your attorney should, at a minimum, send the Request for Hearing Form, Substance Abuse Evaluation Form, the Letters, Proof of AA/NA if necessary, and a 10 panel drug screen. There is no harm in added a letter or two during the hearing. You should not use more than 5-7 letters for your hearing unless each letter adds something unique to the hearing. Each Hearing Officer reviews the documentation before the actual hearing. Failing to provide a complete picture until appearing at the hearing loses an opportunity to convince the Hearing Officer you are a good candidate for a driver’s license. When you walk into the hearing, you want the Hearing Officer to be inclined to grant you driving privileges before your start presenting your evidence. Make sure your attorney is aware of what the Hearing Officers are looking for in a petitioner for a driver’s license restoration. If your potential attorney believes the Hearing Officers just make the rules up as they go along, then you have the wrong attorney. Hearing Officers are just like everyone else. They have patterns of likes and dislikes in petitioners. Knowing those patterns ahead of time is the best way to insure your application is successful.
Tuesday May 12
Criminal Law and Alcohol Induced Blackouts I have noticed more and more young female clients, which have been arrested while experiencing an Alcohol Induced Blackouts. In each of the cases, the levels of alcohol consumption were not necessarily jumping out as the apparent cause for the blackouts. Therefore, I proceeded to look into some of the reasons why some individuals experience alcohol induced blackouts, while others do not. According to Dr. Aaron White, Program Director for Underage and College Drinking Prevention Research at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, The way college students drink increases the odds of blackouts. Alcohol is more likely to cause a blackout when it gets into your body, and therefore your brain, fast. It catches the memory circuits off guard and shuts them down. Doing shots or chugging beer, and doing it on an empty stomach, get the alcohol into your bloodstream quickly. Dr. White also noted that females are at particular risk for blackouts, because they tend to weigh less than males and have less water in their bodies to dilute the alcohol, which leads to higher levels of alcohol in the brain. He also stated women have less of an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase in the gut that breaks down a small percentage of alcohol before it even gets into the body. Combining these finding with tendencies of females to skip meals to save calories when they drink, there is less food in the stomach to help absorb the alcohol. Other articles I have run across have suggested people who have had six or more alcohol induced are two and one half times more likely to be injured in an alcohol related event over the next two years. Blackouts are dangerous because the individual is likely to be completely conscious, yet under the influence of a large amount of alcohol. Alcohol lowers a person’s inhibitions as it impairs their judgment. A person who is experiencing a blackout may attempt to engage in high risk activities that they ordinarily would have proper judgment not to try. More importantly, a person experiencing a blackout may not show any overt signs of a being blacked out. Studies have shown alcohol induced blackouts usually kick in at blood alcohol levels of at least .15 percent. If you or someone you know experiences alcohol induced blackouts with any frequency, you should take steps to correct this problem before it leads to criminal activity or medical injury. In a society glorifying blackouts in their top rated pop songs, blackouts are going to be here for a while. Just make sure you or a person you know is not the next statistic.
Thursday July 16
Callers that mention they found me through the website are eligible for a discount on their legal fees. The discount does not apply to individuals referred to me by other attorneys.
Thursday May 5
Social Media is being scanned by Hearing Officers in DAAD. A person approached me to appeal his petition to the Circuit Court. The key evidence used for the denial of his petition were Facebook Pictures found by the hearing officer prior to the hearing showing the person drinking alcohol. Don’t let that happen to you.
Sunday May 22
House Bill 4436 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. History 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 (1) in violation of the United States or State Constitution, (2) in excess of the Secretary of State’s statutory authority or jurisdiction, (3) made upon unlawful procedure resulting in material prejudice to the petitioner, (4) not supported by substantial, material, and competent evidence on the whole record, (5) arbitrary, capricious, or clearly an abuse or unwarranted exercise of discretion, or (6) 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.