Michigan has a hold on your driver's license

Michigan has a hold on your driver’s license

In this blog, I will discuss what to do when the State of Michigan has a hold on your driver’s license. This “hold” causes an out-of-state resident to become ineligible for a driver’s license in their new home state. A clearance must be obtained from the State of Michigan. The typical fact pattern for a Michigan has a hold on your driver’s license problem is a person relocates to a new state and the person tries to get a new driver’s license in their new state, however due to the Michigan hold, they can not obtain a new driver’s license. Next, this person contacts a driver’s license restoration attorney in their new state, this attorney instructs them to hire a driver’s license restoration attorney in Michigan to clear the hold. 

Michigan is preventing a driver’s license in another state.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains a National Driver Register (NDR), which has a database known as the Problem Driver Pointer System(PDPS). The PDPS contains information on people who have had their driving privileges revoked, suspended, canceled, or denied. This database prevents troubled drivers from moving to a new state and obtaining a driver’s license. A representative of the DMV will run the person’s information through NDR and if there is a hit within this database, the new state will not issue a new driver’s license until the ”holding” state issues a clearance.   

Can I restore my driver’s license in another state?

Each state requires the driver to be a resident of the state.  When a state issues a hold on a driver’s license, thereby preventing a person from obtaining a driver’s license, the driver needs to address the hold with the state issuing the hold.  In Michigan, a hold issued by Michigan must be addressed in Michigan.  Michigan may have levied a driver’s license suspension, which will need to be addressed in Michigan.  However, if the out-of-state driver has a revoked Michigan driver’s license for multiple drunk driving convictions, then there is a paper-only review, called an administrative review.  The administrative review may be completed without requiring the out-of-state resident to travel to Michigan.  A more in-depth discussion of an administrative review follows. 

What are FAC and FCJ suspensions?

A Failure to Appear in Court (FAC) suspension is generated by a Michigan Court. If the driver picked up a traffic citation but failed to appear or pay, the issuing court will report to the Michigan Department of State and this agency will suspend the offender’s Michigan license. Similarly, if a person enters a plea or admit responsibility, however, fails to pay all the fines or costs issued by the court, then the sentencing court will report and a Failure to Comply with Court Judgment(FCJ) suspension will apply to the perpetrator’s a driver’s license.

Driver health-related suspensions.

Michigan will impose a driver’s license suspension for a person’s health-related issues. Some health-related suspensions are temporary and can be resolved with a Physician’s Statement provided to the Secretary of State.

Habitual drunk driver’s license revocation.

Two convictions for drunk driving within seven years will result in a permanent driver’s license revocation for a Michigan driver. Once a Michigan driver’s license is revoked, the driver must initiate a restoration case to regain driving privileges. If a revoked driver leaves the state and attempts to gain a new driver’s license in a different state, the DMV representatives in the new state will tell the driver, “Michigan has a hold on your driver’s license.” The state of Michigan can only provide driving privileges to residents of Michigan, so the proceedings in Michigan are called clearance cases.

What is the difference between a license restoration case and a clearance case?

There is an optional administrative review available for the clearance case. First, the petitioner may elect to submit their case via an administrative review. The administrative review includes all the required documentation as a restoration case. In an administrative review, the AHS Hearing Officer(HO) will review the submitted materials and decide without any testimony. If the administrative review is not successful, the petitioner may elect to hold a regular hearing before an HO. That means the out-of-state petitioner must travel to Michigan for an hour hearing. A Michigan resident seeking a restoration of their driving privileges must attend a hearing, there is no administrative review. What is the advantage of an administrative hearing? The only advantage is cost savings for the petitioner. 10 out of 10 good driver’s license restoration attorneys would prefer to have their client face the Hearing Officer because at a hearing the HO will ask the petitioner questions. Testimony is all the same, whether in a courtroom or during a restoration hearing, cross-examination wins cases. How the petitioner reacts and responds to tough questions matters.  

There are other differences between a restoration case and a clearance case. The hearing application, SOS 257/258, permits three to six witness letters. Good witness letters are essential for a successful appeal. In a clearance case, one of these letters should be from the petitioner. In a sense, the petitioner loses a letter in an administrative review. The petitioner’s letter should address anticipated questions or concerns from an HO.  Knowledge and experience about the driver’s license restoration process are the foundational base needed to make accurate predictions. Before someone can predict or anticipate concerns, the person has to have experience or knowledge to draw upon to make a prediction. For example, ask someone who has never watched a football game to predict a team’s offensive strategy in the Super Bowl.  A good driver’s license restoration lawyer    Finally, the last difference is the residency requirement. Administrative review hearing requires the added element of proving that the petitioner is an out of state resident. 

The bottom line, there are far more similarities than there are differences. The same difficult standards necessary to restore driving privileges for a Michigan resident are also required for a clearance case. In short, the legal standards and preparation are the same, with the added element of out-of-state residency element. The petitioner must show, at a minimum, over a year of total drug and alcohol abstinence; the petitioner must show that their drug and alcohol problems will likely remain under control and that the petitioner will be a safe driver. Visit my driver’s license restoration blog here to learn more about this difficult process. 

Michigan has a hold on your driver’s license and I can’t afford to travel back to Michigan. 

The Covid-19 pandemic materially changed how government agencies conduct business. The OHAO, Michigan Secretary of State, is no different. Telecommunications services, Zoom and Windows Teams are now available for remote hearings. An applicant for hearing needs to ask for a remote hearing. An actual hearing before an OHAO officer is better than an administrative appeal. The Hearing Officer may look at the applicant and evaluate their testimony.

For people living paycheck to paycheck, finding time to attend a hearing is out of reach. For such people, a clearance case with an administrative review is the only option.  Hiring a lawyer to help get their license back would stress their budget.  Add one to two trips to Michigan and the whole idea becomes too expensive. 

Some help is better than none. I want to help the people who can only afford the administrative review. I want to provide a service that will maximize the client’s chances of success. I believe there are many frustrated people out there, sober people qualified to lift the hold, yet doing nothing to secure a driver’s license because these people can’t find the money to retain an attorney and travel to Michigan for a hearing.  

My administrative review service.

This Clearance service will require the client to perform many tasks on their own. The client must have access to a computer, printer, copy machine and scanner and the client must have an email account. This will also be a pay-as-you-go service that will require a credit card. The administrative review service includes the following steps.

Step 1. The client obtains their own Michigan Driver Record. Visit this Michigan Secretary of State website and obtain your official driving record here. Scan the driving record into a PDF file, then contact me. I will review the driving record and make recommendations. This step is to determine eligibility for a clearance case and to make sure the hold on your driver’s license isn’t related to a FAC/FCJ suspension. I will make recommendations on how to proceed to clear the hold.

Step 2. Once I determine the client is eligible to proceed with a clearance case, we can begin the driver’s license restoration process. The client will review and sign an hourly contract at $250.00 an hour. The client will obtain their Michigan Criminal history through the Michigan State Police. Michigan criminal records can be obtained here.  It may be necessary to obtain criminal records from the new state.

Step 3. The client interview will take place next. This interview can take place via Zoom or over the telephone. The interview typically lasts an hour and a half. I record the interview with the client’s permission. During the interview, I am mining for information related to the client’s support network, recovery, and plans to remain sober. People successful in restoring their driver’s licenses have a recovery story. This is what the interview is for, to learn the client’s story and discover the important, and persuasive, events that will convince the HO to grant clearance. At the end of the interview, I will have a clear picture of the client’s recovery, the important events, and the idea of good witnesses for letters.

Step 4. The next step is obtaining witness letters for the application. I provide the client with direction on what I want to see in these letters. There are two acceptable letter types: sobriety and support. The client is responsible for obtaining letters. I review the letters, make changes, and send them back for revisions, if necessary. This step takes the most time. This step is also where people trying to fake sobriety run into problems. For more information read my blog here.  

Step 5. I will prepare the client for the substance use evaluation. This may include a written facts sheet for the evaluation. Often a restoration client’s criminal history is so extensive that it is difficult to keep the dates and facts straight. The inability to keep dates and facts straight may cripple a driver’s license restoration case or clearance case. 

Step 6. The client will obtain a ten-panel drug screen in their home state.

Step 7. The client will schedule and conduct the substance use evaluation before an accredited evaluator. The client will be responsible for arranging, conducting, and paying for this evaluation. This evaluation typically costs between $150 to $300.00. If the evaluation comes back poorly, I will recommend the client obtain a second evaluation from a different evaluator. 


Step 8. The next step is the petitioner’s letter for the examination. In this letter, I will use my experience to anticipate and address any shortcomings in the client’s case. I will help the client draft a letter that will serve as a substitution for live testimony. 

Step 9. Submit the case to the OHAO for a determination.

Step 10. Celebrate. Or advise the client on scheduling a live hearing in Michigan.

In summary, I am offering out-of-state clients an opportunity to prepare the best possible administrative review to remove Michigan’s hold on their new driver’s license.  Affordable driver’s license restoration attorney representation for people not in the financial position to commit to traveling to Michigan. 

I am not a free service, no free consultations

Due to the high volume of calls related to this topic, I will no longer offer free consultations for out-of-state clearance cases. My initial consultation fee is $90.00 with a credit card, over the phone. If you are unwilling to pay for my time and experience, do not call.

About the author:

Matthew Benedict is a driver’s license restoration attorney serving clients in all of Northern Michigan. Please visit my driver’s license restoration blog here. Call 231-883-4170 for an appointment.  

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