Are there any Michigan Court of Appeals cases that talk about driver’s license restoration? There are a few, but not a lot. Because the decision to reinstate a driver’s license lies at the discretion of the circuit court judge, there’s not a lot of legal grounds to bring a case to the Michigan Court of Appeals. However, it’s been done. Let’s talk about a few of them:

Jones v Secretary of State – 2002

The circuit court refused to reinstate the petitioner’s driver’s license, and he appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals. He complained that the Circuit Court didn’t have the authority to deny his driver’s license. The court rejected the claim, stating that circuit courts generally have jurisdiction over a matter unless state law specifically precludes jurisdiction.

Beaman v Secretary of State – 2004

In this case, the circuit court granted reinstatement of the license and the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed. It was the Secretary of State that brought the appeal to the Court of Appeals. This appeared to be a factual dispute. The initial administrative hearing officer didn’t think that the petition had enough documentation of his sobriety, either with an ignition interlock device or with knowledge of alcoholics anonymous and the twelve steps. The circuit court said that the administrative hearing officer “dropped the ball.” The Court of Appeals reversed.

Here’s the Court of Appeals’ standard for review for a license reinstatement hearing. The Court of Appeals looks at whether the lower court:

““applied correct legal principles and whether it misapprehended or grossly misapplied the substantial evidence test to the agency’s factual findings.” Boyd v Civil Service Comm, 220 Mich App 226, 234; 559 NW2d 342 (1996).”

Ultimately, in the Beaman case, the Court of Appeals decided that the Circuit Court didn’t have the authority to waive the Secretary of State’s requirements. If the hearing officer wanted to see ignition interlock results and knowledge of the twenty steps, they had the right to demand that information. Ultimately, the circuit court didn’t have the right to rewrite administrative rules for license revocation.

Maysonet v Secretary of State – 2002

This is another case where the circuit court judge and the hearing officer disagreed. The hearing officer decided that the petitioner’s substance abuse assessment wasn’t strongly in support of the petitioner’s sobriety. He also found that attendance at alcoholics anonymous was not recent. The circuit court concluded that the petitioner remained alcohol free and that there was no longer any effect of alcohol on the petitioner’s life.

The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court’s reinstatement. They said that the driver’s license reinstatement hearing officer found problems with the petitioner’s credibility, and that the hearing officer was the appropriate judge of credibility, not the circuit court.

Reidel v Secretary of State – 2008

In this case, the petitioner succeeded in reversing the circuit court’s decision. The circuit court judge didn’t believe that the circuit court had the authority to decide a driver’s license reinstatement case. This is a confusing ruling on the part of the circuit court because the Court of Appeals already ruled in the earlier Jones case that the lower court does have jurisdiction. The higher court sent the case back to the lower court in order to consider the merits of the petition.

What Can We Learn?

What do we have to learn from these handful of Court of Appeals Michigan driver’s license reinstatement cases?

First, reasonable minds differ. Even if you’re turned down by the hearing officer, it’s not uncommon for the circuit court judge to see it differently. You should talk with your Michigan license restoration attorney to see if bringing your petition to the circuit court is a good idea.

Second, judges make mistakes. One circuit court judge was so off base that they didn’t even know that the courts had jurisdiction to hear driver’s license appeals. The reason we have an appeals process in Michigan is because judges occasionally make mistakes and incorrect rulings.

Let’s work together

If you’d like to get your driver’s license back Traverse City, contact us. We’re Northern Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers that help you create a plan to succeed on the first try. We’ll help you build your case step by step so that you can have confidence on your license restoration hearing day. The first step is to pick up the phone and call us for your free consultation.