New law gives courts greater power to overturn Secretary of State’s denial of a restricted license

by: Jason Osbourn

06/06/2016 11:49 AM EST

Those whose license is revoked may request a hearing with the secretary of state (SOS) and request that their license be reinstated. Reinstatement of a license under these circumstances is highly discretionary. While a denial may be appealed to the circuit court, the court will only overturn SOS’s decision only for the most grievous mistake of fact or law or blatant abuse of discretion. As a result, a denial by SOS is almost never overturned by the circuit court.

Earlier this month, however, the governor signed into law an amendment to the current statue allowing the circuit court to overturn SOS’s denial even where SOS has made no such mistake and has otherwise exercised proper discretion. This new law takes effect on August 15, 2016. It contains three elements which, if satisfied, will allow the circuit court to order the issuance of a restricted license.

First, there must be a sufficient passage of time. This waiting period will be either 1 year or 5 years since the most recent revocation. A 1 year wait is required from those have only ever had one revocation or whose most recent revocation occurred more than 7 years after the previous revocation. For those with two or more revocations within a 7 year time span, at least 5 years must have elapsed since the most recent revocation.

Next, the person must meet the minimum requirements under the administrative rules. In other words, the person must have submitted a complete application containing all the necessary documents to SOS. 

Lastly, if the person’s revocation was based on multiple offenses, the court will only order issuance of a restricted license if it finds that the person is not a habitual offender and is likely to adhere to any requirement imposed by the court. For those to whom this element applies, the court will begin with the presumption that the person is a habitual offender. The burden is then on the person to rebut this presumption to a standard of clear and convincing evidence. This is a high standard of proof, the only higher standard being “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

For those who only have a single revocation, this new law will essentially cap the maximum length of a revocation at one year so long as the person is able to submit a minimally-adequate application for reinstatement to SOS. Those with multiple revocations will have a more complex case to prove. However, under the new law the court is able to receive much more new evidence and has discretion independent from the actions of SOS to determine whether a person should be issued a restricted license.

If your license is restricted and you would like to get it reinstated or if you have any other legal questions, contact Newburg Law and 517-505-2323 and we will be happy to assist you.