Restricted Driver’s License Circuit Court Appellate Process
Attention drivers who have had their driving privileges revoked, denied or restricted by the Secretary of State.
Circuit courts in Michigan can now authorize restricted driving privileges to those drivers whose driving privileges are revoked/denied/restricted pursuant to section 257.303 of the Michigan Vehicle Code, e.g. multiple alcohol/drug-related driving convictions, multiple reckless driving convictions, serious citations involving motor vehicle crashes, and other convictions cited in section 257.303 of the Michigan Vehicle Code.
With the enactment of the amendments to section 257.323 of the Michigan Vehicle Code effective August 01, 2016, a circuit court can now authorize restricted driving privileges to those whose driving privileges are revoked/denied. Prior to the enactment of this legislation, if you were revoked/denied and your request for driving privileges was denied by a hearing officer at a License Appeal hearing and you appealed the hearing officer’s decision to a circuit court, the court could only authorize full privileges.
Under the new law – effective August 01, 2016 – you must first have your request for full or restricted driving privileges denied following a hearing before a Driver License Appeal hearing officer.
You may not appeal a revoked/denied action to a circuit court until you have had your appeal denied at a Driver License Appeal hearing. Under section 303 of the Code, this requirement results in you being required to wait a minimum of 1 to 5 years before you are even eligible for a hearing at a Driver License appeal—this is the same as it was before the new law was enacted.
Circuit Courts may now take supplemented documents and testimony.
Under the new law, a Circuit Court may now take supplemented documents and testimony into consideration when determining if restrictions or full privileges should be authorized. Prior to enactment of the current legislation, the circuit court could only consider the documents presented as a Driver License Appeal hearing and the official transcript of the hearing. This change in the law allows those appealing a decision of a hearing officer to remedy deficiencies in the documents—or testimony cited by a hearing officer— as justification for denying an appeal for restricted or full privileges, rehabilitating a poorly-presented case. The law makes it clear that you can “supplement” the record created at your Drivers License Appeal hearing, but it does not allow you to “expand” the record.
The court can now substitute its opinions for that of the hearing officer.
The court can now substitute its opinions for that of the hearing officer. Prior to enactment of the new law, in order to set aside the decision of a hearing officer, the circuit court needed to find that your rights had been substantially prejudiced by a violation of the Consitution of either the United States or the State of Michigan, and/or that the hearing officer’s action was either arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, not based in law or fact, or not supported by material, competent and substantial evidence, outside of the statutory authorization or jurisdiction of the hearing officer. Under the new law, the court is free to make a decision as to whether or not the court believes that your proofs supported a finding that the hearing officer should have found you eligible for restrictions or full privileges. This is a much lower legal threshold than the old law.
Other factors to consider regarding the new law
There are other provisions in the new law setting forth what restrictions the court can authorize, i.e. if restrictions are authorized the court must order you to install an ignition interlock on any vehicle you wish to drive, and other procedural/legal issues that the court and you must address at a hearing or the court must consider when authorizing privileges.
Be aware that the changes in the law do not allow the court to consider your need to drive or the hardship created by your driving privileges being revoked/denied. This is the same as it was before the new law was enacted.
Time is of the essence, as you only have 63 days following the issuance of an order denying you driving privileges to file an appeal in circuit court. Keep in mind that it can take several days to weeks to prepare documents and file with a circuit court. This is the same as it was before the new law was enacted.
The main things you need to know if you believe you are a person affected by this law is that:
- You must appear at a Driver License Appeal hearing with all your documentation before appealing the decision of the hearing officer to a circuit court;
- The court can allow you to supplement the record, but not expand it;
- The court can authorize restricted driving privileges and, if your appeal is denied by a hearing officer, you only have 63 days to file an appeal in circuit court;
- If you appear at a Driver License Appeal hearing and present such a weak case that it cannot be rehabilitated at a circuit court hearing, an appeal to the court may be fruitless.