November 2009 Archives

November 30, 2009

DUI in Michigan - Driver's License Penalties

As a Criminal Defense Lawyer who handles a substantial number of DUI Cases each year in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, there are some questions that I am asked again and again. Chief among them are questions about what will happen to the Driver's License. This article will focus on what happens to a person's Driver's License as a result of an OWI (Drunk Driving) conviction.

MI License.gifLet's begin with the arrest part first. Under Michigan Law, when a Police Officer arrests someone for Drunk Driving, they must confiscate and destroy that person's Driver's License. In its place, the person will be given a Michigan Temporary Driving Permit, sometimes called a "paper license." Because the person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, that paper license is every bit as good as the original which it replaces. In other words, a person still has the same license they did before the arrest, except that their picture ID has been replaced by the "paper license."

If a person is subsequently convicted of a Drunk Driving offense (whether by a Plea, Plea-Bargain, or a Trial Verdict), the Michigan Secretary of State, and NOT the Court, imposes the License Penalties. These penalties are absolute; they cannot be modified in any way, under any circumstances. They are as follows:

1st Offense:

OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) - 6 month suspension of the Driver's License, with no driving whatsoever for the first 30 days, and a Restricted License for the remaining 5 months. Restricted License allows driving to, from, and during the course of work, school, and to and from any necessary medical treatment, AA or support-group meetings, and to complete anything the Court ordered as a result of the conviction.

OWVI (Operating While Visibly Impaired)
- 90 day Restricted License.

2nd Offense (within 7 years of the 1st):

OWI and OWVI - Mandatory 1 year minimum License Revocation. This means no License, and NO POSSIBILITY for any kind of License, for at least 1 full year.

3rd Offense (within 10 years of the 1st):

OWI and OWVI - Mandatory 5 year minimum License Revocation. This means no License, and NO POSSIBILITY for any kind of License, for at least 5 full years.

These License Penalties kick in after the Court handling a Driver's case sends Notice to the Secretary of State of the Conviction. The Secretary of State then sends a Notice of the Licensing Penalty (called an Order of Action) to the Driver. Usually, the Driver will receive the Notice several days before the License Penalties start.

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November 27, 2009

Driver's License Restoration in Michigan - Preparing for the Hearing - Part 2

In our last installment, we reviewed the general process of preparing for a License Restoration Hearing, and touched upon the general sort of questions that every Hearing Officer will be asking. Now, we'll turn to the questions that the Client's particular Hearing Officer is likely to ask, and cover some final details of the preparations for a Hearing. In the example of my Client, from the previous installment, who "froze" at his Hearing, it turned out that the Hearing Officer who heard his Appeal will typically ask someone who claims to attend AA to recite a few of the steps, or give the number of a step and ask the person about it.

Some other Hearing Officers aren't as concerned about the rote recital of the steps by number, but instead, if questioning someone who claims to attend AA, will ask about one of the last steps they talked about at a meeting. Other Hearing Officers will ask the person Appealing which steps or steps have meant the most to them, and why. And if you are familiar with AA, then you'll understand that the Hearing Officer is looking for more depth than just hearing about "the First Step."

conference_room1.jpgThe larger point here is that each Hearing Officer, in his or her own way, is attempting to explore and evaluate the person's wholesale lifestyle change, or metamorphosis, and see how sound it really is. They are trying to determine if it really is likely that the alcohol problem of the person Appealing is "likely to remain under control." Some Hearing Officers seem to be more event and fact based, while others seem to explore more of the "attitude" and tone of a person's story. One of the phrases I use when I prepare a Client is that they need to be able to "ring true" when questioned by the Hearing Officer. It's kind of like when a bell is rung, if it has a defect or crack, it will not ring "true." If the bell is not defective, or damaged, however, then it will ring out clearly. The same really holds true for a person Appealing for Restoration of their License; they need to "ring true" when put to the test.

The final part of preparing my Client to testify is what I call the "$64,000 question." Explaining it in detail here would be out of place, and may not make much sense, but after having spent several hours with my just preparing for the Hearing, the Client will be ready for it. Perhaps it can be best described as an opportunity for the Client, without the restrictions of the question-and-answer format, to be able to tell their story, describe their life-change from then (drinking) to now (sober), and really show their inner commitment to remaining sober. Remember, my job is to present a Client who can "ring true" about abstinence, recovery, sobriety, and the commitment to remain sober.

Continue reading "Driver's License Restoration in Michigan - Preparing for the Hearing - Part 2" »

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November 25, 2009

Driver's License Restoration in Michigan - Preparing for the Hearing - Part 1

In this article, we'll be examining how a person should be prepared for their actual Michigan Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division Hearing. In the previous installments of this series, we described the difference between those people who simply want to have their Driving Privileges Restored, and those who both want them Restored and have made the necessary Lifestyle Changes to win an Appeal. We then examined Rule 13, which sets out the issues that the DAAD must examine, as well as the standard by which those issues must be reviewed. We saw how a person Appealing for a License must really prove 2 or 3 things, but do so by "clear and convincing evidence." We further learned that "clear and convincing evidence" does not mean getting "the benefit of the doubt," but rather equates more to hitting a home run. In addition, we looked at the evidence that must (and some that should not) be submitted to win a Hearing, and we saw how important the preparation process was right from the very outset of an appeal, even before any of that evidence was collected.

Let's pick up at the point where the Request for Hearing and all the Documents and Evidence has been submitted. Within a few weeks, the Secretary of State will send a Notice of the Hearing Date and Time to both the person Appealing, and their Lawyer. As a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, what follows is a description of how things are done in my office. To me, this phase is every bit as crucial as studying for an important test. In my years of successfully handling these cases, I think I've pretty much gotten this down to a science.

hearing room1.jpgThe scope of my Driver's License Restoration Appeal Practice covers any Michigan Driver's License matter. This means that even if someone has moved out-of-state and needs to clear up a Michigan License matter, I can help. Because my office is in the Metro-Detroit area (Mt. Clemens), I have all of my Hearings set at the DAAD Office in Livonia, Michigan. Over the years, I have gotten extremely familiar with how Hearings are conducted in that Office, and therefore can focus the preparation process on what will actually happen at the Hearing.

Beyond containing the date and time of the Hearing, the Notice will also indicate which Hearing Officer has been assigned to the Appeal. This is important. While pretty much all Hearing Officers ask a significant number of the same questions, kind of like reading from the same script, each one has any number of questions that are unique. They each have their own style, and have their own individual areas where they concentrate their questions. Knowing this beforehand can avoid a lot of potential problems during the Hearing, and certainly gives the person Appealing an advantage over someone going in "cold."

Let's face it, anyone going into that Hearing Room knows this is an all-or-nothing, win-or-lose proposition. They are understandably nervous. Mistakes due to nerves are understandable, and generally can be corrected if the Lawyer is following the testimony. When a person freezes, however, and goes into that kind of panic-induced "mind-lock" that makes them unable to recount even a few of the 12 Steps of AA, for example (assuming, of course, that they have filed the Appeal and relied upon their AA affiliation as proof in their case), then their chances of winning the Appeal (remember, by "clear and convincing evidence") goes down the drain.

Continue reading "Driver's License Restoration in Michigan - Preparing for the Hearing - Part 1" »

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November 23, 2009

Michigan - What to do (and not to do) if the Police or a Detective calls you

It's time to take another break from my long, on-going series of articles about Driver's License Restoration in Michigan. In this article, we'll discuss an issue that arises often enough in my Practice as a Criminal Defense Lawyer. It always begins with a phone call from a person who has been contacted by a Detective from a Police Department or Agency. The caller has either spoken with the Detective, or simply knows, from a message of some sort, that a Detective has called for them. The Detective will almost always reference what he or she is calling about.

In this article, we'll talk about those calls which are about some incident involving the person who is being called. Sometimes it's about an Assault and Battery case, or an allegation of Domestic Violence. Other times, it's about some kind of Larceny or allegation of Embezzlement or other Theft Crime. Even if the call involves a different kind of Offense, there are certain similar characteristics of these calls that can help us understand how to respond to them.

interrogation-room1.jpgWhen my office gets one of these calls, there is usually a sense of urgency, if not outright panic, on the part of the caller. Having handled so many of these calls over the years, I think it's safe to say, at least from my experience, that there really is a set of rules a person must follow if they are called by a Detective.

Let's look at a real life example of a case I recently handled in Macomb County. My Client was involved in a disagreement with the driver of a car who was parked in front of his house and blocking his driveway. To make a long story short, there was a bit of an altercation between my client and the Driver of the car who refused to move and unblock my Client's driveway, which prevented my client from pulling his car out.

When all was said and done, and my Client was on his way to wherever, and the other Driver had finally gone his own way, my Client figured the whole thing was over. A few days later, he received a call from a Detective. He spoke with the Detective for a bit before he called me. As he related the initial conversation with the Detective, he was asked about the altercation and the Detective told him that he wanted to hear my Client's side of the story. Fortunately, my Client immediately understood the need to obtain legal advice before he said anything, so he called me. Before ending his conversation with the Detective, however, the Detective said something to my Client which I will point out to the reader as very important: The Detective told my Client that if he didn't receive a return phone call within a few days, he was "going to get a warrant" charging my Client with Assault and Battery. Mark that, because we'll come back to it.

Continue reading "Michigan - What to do (and not to do) if the Police or a Detective calls you" »

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November 20, 2009

License Restoration In Michigan - The "Official" Issues and the Evidence Required to win a License Appeal - Part 3

In Part 1 of this installment we examined what it takes to prove that a person's alcohol problem "is under control." In Part 2 of this installment, we examine the proofs that should be submitted to demonstrate that a person's alcohol problem is "likely to remain under control."

After all that, we haven't even gotten to the second issue yet! Relax, though, because we can get rid of that second issue (and a couple of others) in a few paragraphs. In this installment, we'll tackle that second, as well as the rest of the "official" issues that a person Appealing to win back their License under DAAD Rule 13, which governs these cases.

Car people1.jpgThe second issue, under Rule 13, is "[t]hat the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk."

As I noted in the introductory articles, this really is a repeat of the second part of the first issue we just talked about. Any evidence, or testimony, submitted on behalf of the notion that the person's alcohol problem is "likely to remain under control" will simultaneously prove that "the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk." Indeed, there is nothing even remotely relevant to the one issue that isn't likewise relevant to the other. Can you even think of anything that might tend to prove on of those issues any more, or less, than the other?

In practice, the DAAD examines the evidence submitted on behalf of the notion that the person's alcohol problem is "likely to remain under control" as evidence "that the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk." This second issue might reasonably be translated to something like "the risk of the petitioner having a relapse is low or minimal."

Good news ahead: the third issue is another repeat. That third issue, "[t]hat the risk of the petitioner repeating the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by, or under the influence of, alcohol or controlled substances or a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance or repeating any other offense listed in section 303(1)(d), (e), or (f) or (2)(c), (d), (e), or (f) of the act is a low or minimal risk," is just a more complicated way of asking if the person's alcohol problem is "likely to remain under control."

Continue reading "License Restoration In Michigan - The "Official" Issues and the Evidence Required to win a License Appeal - Part 3" »

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November 18, 2009

License Restoration In Michigan - The "Official" Issues and the Evidence Required to win a License Appeal - Part 2

In the Part 1 of this installment, we looked at the first sub-issue examined by the DAAD, that a person Appealing for a License has their alcohol problem "under control." In this article we'll see how the proof relevant to the second sub-issue, that the person's alcohol problem "is likely to remain under control," looks to the future, whereas, as we saw, the first sub-issue looks to the past. We'll also see how most of the evidence that the person's alcohol problem is "likely to remain under control" comes directly from the person Appealing for their license, more than anywhere else.

Without a doubt, this issue is the single most important part of a person's Appeal. The vast majority of cases that are unsuccessful lose because of the failure to prove that the person's alcohol problem "is likely to remain under control" by the required standard of clear and convincing evidence.

20090117_williams2_333.jpgBefore we talk about what should be done, let's talk about what should not be done, and what can pretty much guarantee a lost Appeal.

If I didn't do this for a living, I too might fall victim to the mistaken notion that all a person has to do is file for an Appeal, go in, show they haven't had a drink in such-and-such a period of time, and say that they have quit for good. That, however, is miles short of the proof necessary to win an Appeal.

When we speak of the concept that a person's alcohol problem "is likely to remain under control," we are really talking about proving that the person has made such dramatic, wholesale lifestyle changes that drinking has no where to fit in. It used to be widely believed that the DAAD would not give a License back to someone who was not actively involved in AA. While that's certainly not the case now, that idea has some value to illustrating this point. When a person becomes involved in AA, that involvement means a lot more that just going to a meeting or two a week. If a person is truly into AA, they will certainly have ditched their "drinking buddies," and have made other, very dramatic changes in their lifestyle. If they used to go to the bar after work, they now no longer go to the bar anymore. It won't do to say that they still go to the bar, but only drink soft drinks. People into sobriety know that that isn't sober behavior. This is sort of what is meant by the saying that "if you hang around the barbershop long enough, you're going to get a haircut."

When people leave a drinking lifestyle for a sober one, they change where they go, where they play, how they play, and who they hang around with. They no longer keep alcohol in their house, and any supportive family members will not put their own interests above the recovering person's by keeping such a source of temptation so close at hand. If hitting the bar was part of their life before, then they fill that void with something else, even if it's just going home to watch TV.

Continue reading "License Restoration In Michigan - The "Official" Issues and the Evidence Required to win a License Appeal - Part 2" »

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November 16, 2009

License Restoration In Michigan - The "Official" Issues and the Evidence Required to win a License Appeal - Part 1

In Part 1 and Part 2 of the last installment of this series about License Restorations in Michigan, we looked at the legal issues involved in winning back a driver's License. In this installment, we'll take a much more detailed look at those issues, and examine what evidence should be submitted in support of License Appeal, and to an extent, what should not be submitted. We'll be looking, in particular, at the Substance Abuse Evaluation and the Letters of Support. As I've noted before, this is complicated stuff, and there are no shortcuts around it. This installment, because of it's length, will be broken into 3 articles.

In order to file for Restoration of their Driver's License, a person must submit 3 things:

1. A Request for Hearing,

2. A Substance Abuse Evaluation, and

3. Letters of Support (between 3 and 6).

Woman_car1.jpgThese documents must be completed fully and properly before they are submitted. Once the documents have been submitted, they are essentially "locked," meaning that the information they contain cannot easily be changed. Think of a tax return; once it's filed, the IRS proceeds based upon the information it contains; a person cannot make wholesale changes to it without strong evidence supporting the changes, and a good explanation as to why the wrong information was submitted. Even if this example is a bit of an overstatement, it is fair to say that the documents submitted to the DAAD better be close to picture perfect (i.e., "good to go") at the time they are submitted.

As a Driver's License Restoration Attorney, I prepare License Restoration Cases to be filed almost every day. Unlike other parts of my practice, which are limited geographically, I can and do represent anyone, from anywhere within, and even outside of, the State of Michigan, for a License Appeal. All of my cases are scheduled for Hearing in the Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division Office in Livonia, Michigan. This office conducts all the Hearings for the Metropolitan Detroit Area. No matter where a person lives, I can schedule their Hearing to take place at this Hearing Office. The information I present in these articles is based upon that experience, and comes from doing this over and over again, and doing it right. As a result, I have a success rate of well over 90% in the License Restoration Cases that I handle.

As a starting point for this article, we'll look at the issues, specified by law, that the DAAD must consider when a person files for a License Restoration. Some of these issues are more important than others. Some seldom come into play, and a few are really multiple ways of saying the same thing a different way. As we'll see, all of this really boils down to a person having to prove 2 or 3 things in order to win their License back.

Continue reading "License Restoration In Michigan - The "Official" Issues and the Evidence Required to win a License Appeal - Part 1" »

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November 13, 2009

DUI in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County - Is Counseling or Treatment a good idea?

Because a substantial part of my Practice as a Criminal Lawyer involves DUI (technically OWI) cases, I speak with a lot of people, and answer a lot of questions about these cases. One of the more common questions I am asked is something like "should I get into some kind of Counseling or Treatment Program?" Here's some good news: this is one question that has a pretty clear-cut answer.

Let me begin by first pointing out that my Practice is limited to Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties. On occasion, I'll take a case in St. Clair, Lapeer, or Livingston County, but I go no further, and thus I have no experience anywhere else. Let's also begin with the kind of cases where the answer to that question is always "YES."

healthpsych.jpgIn all Second Offense OWI (DUI) and Third Offense OWI (DUI) cases, the law requires that a person who is found guilty of, or pleads guilty to such a charge, to undergo some kind of Counseling or Treatment. In other words, if a person ends up with a 2nd or 3rd Offense DUI (All 3rd Offense Cases are Felonies, and there is nothing higher than a 3rd offense; even a person's 7th DUI is only charged as a 3rd) and they do not "beat" the case, they must be ordered, by the Judge, into some kind of Counseling or Treatment.

Now, given that a person is going to have to get into some kind of Program, it only makes sense to start that process early. No matter what the facts of a person's case, it can only help matters to have a Client who has already demonstrated the foresight to take action regarding a drinking issue. And make no mistake, because all 2nd and 3rd Offense DUI's fall under what in Michigan is known as the "Repeat Offender Law," it is generally assumed anyone with 2 DUI's within 7 years, and 3 or more within their lifetime, has a problem.

As a Lawyer who represents people facing DUI charges, I can, in cases where "winning" or "beating" the charge is not likely, very often negotiate a better outcome for my Client if I can show the Prosecutor that the person has already been proactive enough to get some kind of help.

Continue reading "DUI in Macomb, Oakland or Wayne County - Is Counseling or Treatment a good idea?" »

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November 11, 2009

Possession of Analogues in Michigan - The Pill Problem

In this article, I'll be taking a short break from my ongoing series about License Restorations and will instead address an issue that is coming up more and more frequently in my Criminal Practice. It seems there is an ever-increasing number of cases involving the Possession of, or attempt to acquire, Analogues. Analogues are drugs which are chemically similar to other drugs. Perhaps the most common example is Vicodin, which is chemically similar to codeine, and can produce similar effects in the user. It is an opiate, meaning it's narcotic-like effects are similar to the whole family of drugs that are produced from opium, including morphine and heroin. Another frequently-abused Analogue is Oxycontin, which has been described as "heroin-in a pill."

I limit my Practice (and therefore my experience is likewise limited) to Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. In this Tri-County area, there has been a virtual explosion of cases involving Analogues Charges. I assume that it's not much different all around the state, but I can only talk about the Detroit area. Many people have never even heard the term "Analogues" until they a charged with a crime involving them. Typically, a person is found in possession of some pills for which they did not have a valid prescription. Very often, the explanation they give has something to do with some kind of pain (back pain is a common complaint) and the generosity of someone who gave them a few pills to help. Even in cases where that story is true, it does not change the legality of possessing these medicines without a valid prescription for them.

vicodin-pills1.jpgRelated cases include things like obtaining, or attempting to obtain the medication by fraud. Charges related to stolen prescription pads, fake prescriptions, phony "call-ins" where someone pretends to call a prescription in on behalf of a Doctor, and even the stealing of these medications from legitimate patients have likewise been on the rise.

Possession of Analogues is what's technically called a "High Court Misdemeanor," meaning it carries up to 2 years in Jail. This is sort of a "hybrid" Crime, but the easiest way to understand Analogue Possession Cases is that they are low-level Felonies.

It is, unfortunately, not uncommon to see the same people charged over and over again with crimes involving Analogues because of their highly addictive properties. Sometimes the compulsion to use these drugs far outlasts both the need and valid prescription for them, causing the once-legitimate user to become a long-term addict. In the worst cases, some people realize that the cost and difficulty of obtaining these drugs is actually more than using one the drugs they are chemically similar to, heroin. A significant portion of heroin users will inform a Court that their drug problem started with the use of Analogues.

Continue reading "Possession of Analogues in Michigan - The Pill Problem" »

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November 9, 2009

License Restorations in Michigan - the Legal Issues and what they mean - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, we looked at how the DAAD views someone with 2 or more DUI and/or Substance Abuse-related convictions who has had their Driver's License revoked and is appealing to have their License Restored. We examined the first issue, "that the Petitioner's alcohol problem, if any, is under control and is likely to remain under control." We saw how that really translates into 2 issues, and how the whole notion of an alcohol problem, "if any," really is a red-herring in the sense that no one can reasonably expect to win their License by attempting to prove that they don't have some kind of alcohol problem. In Part 2 of this article, we'll review the remaining "official" issues set forth in the DAAD's Rule 13, which governs these cases, and see what is really looked at, and how, as well as what simply doesn't matter. Finally, we'll learn what is meant by the requirement that a person seeking a License Restoration prove their case by "clear and convincing evidence."

Let's move on and look at the rest of the "official" issues as outlined in the DAAD rule 13:

HappyDriver_Full2.jpg(I) That the petitioner's alcohol or substance abuse problems, if any, are under control and likely to remain under control.

(ii) That the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk.

(iii) That the risk of the petitioner repeating the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by, or under the influence of, alcohol or controlled substances or a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance or repeating any other offense listed in section 303(1)(d), (e), or (f) or (2)(c), (d), (e), or (f) of the act is a low or minimal risk.

(iv) That the petitioner has the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.

(v) Other showings that are relevant to the issues identified in paragraphs (i) to (iv) of this subdivision.

Looking at the second of the DAAD's official "issues," "that the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk," we can see that, in truth, it really is a repeat of the notion that the "Petitioner's alcohol problem is likely to remain under control. " Think about it for a moment; can you imagine any information which tends to prove either one of those things any more or less than the other? Of course not. The same evidence submitted to prove one proves the other, and vice-versa. In all my many hearings, I have never seen a situation where proving that the "Petitioners alcohol problem is likely to remain under control" doesn't simultaneously prove that they pose a low or minimal risk to repeat past abusive behavior. Therefore, this "issue" is really a non-issue.

Continue reading "License Restorations in Michigan - the Legal Issues and what they mean - Part 2" »

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November 6, 2009

License Restorations in Michigan - the Legal Issues and what they mean - Part 1

In Part 1 and Part 2 of the Introductory articles of this series, we had a very brief overview of the License Restoration Process. Now, as we continue, we'll examine the issues that the DAAD looks at when deciding a License Restoration Case. We'll see the "official" rules, as well as how those rules are really interpreted. We'll also look at what is meant by the requirement that a person seeking License Restoration proves his or her case by "clear and convincing" evidence.

In this article, we will begin reviewing the legal issues that every person seeking Restoration of their Driver's License must overcome. Most of these articles will have to be broken into multiple sections, and this one is no exception. Thus, we'll break this section into 2 separate articles, just like we did the introduction.

happy drivers2.jpgTo understand this whole concept of "issues," a person must first understand how both the Law in general, and the DAAD in particular views someone who has had their license revoked for 2 or more DUI's or "Substance-Abuse related" convictions.

By law, a person who accumulates 2 DUI's or "Substance-Abuse related" convictions (from here on out, we'll just say "DUI"s") within 7 years, or someone who accumulates 3 or more within 10 years, is considered a "Habitual Offender." We could spend a whole article or two discussing and arguing the numerous implications of that term, especially since a 3rd DUI in a lifetime is now considered a Felony, but for purposes of this article, once a person has their license revoked under the DUI laws of Michigan, they fall squarely within the definition of a "habitual offender."

Under the rules of the DAAD, the first thing a person seeking Restoration of their License must prove is that their "alcohol problem, if any, is under control."

Right out of the gate, anyone reading this can completely disregard that "if any" language in the rule. In nearly 20 years of handling these cases, I can tell you that I have never seen, handled, or even heard of, a case where someone applied for a License Restoration and tried to prove they didn't have an alcohol (or substance-abuse) problem. When a Revoked Driver files a License Appeal, the only question there is about their alcohol problem is how serious it is (or was), not whether it even exists. To be clear, I have never even heard of anyone trying to win a License back whose argument was "I don't have a drinking (or substance abuse) problem."

Continue reading "License Restorations in Michigan - the Legal Issues and what they mean - Part 1" »

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November 4, 2009

Michigan Driver's License Restoration - Introduction - Part 2

In the first part of this Introduction, we looked at some common misconceptions surrounding the License Restoration Process. In this second part of the Introduction, we'll look at what it takes to get a License Restoration underway, focusing on the documents that need to be filed and what they must contain.

The whole License Restoration process is begun by filing a "Request for Hearing" form, and that must be submitted along with a "Substance Abuse Evaluation" (as you can see from the link, this is an official State form) and the person's Letters of Support.

Smiling Driver.jpgLet me use a recent example of a Client for whom I handled a 2nd DUI a little over a year ago. The Client had prepared to file for a License Restoration on his own, and at the last minute, just before he submitted his paperwork, had second thoughts and decided to call me. He told me that he already had a Substance Abuse Evaluation done, and also had his Letters of Support written, signed, and notarized. His real reason for calling me was to hire me to go along with him for the Hearing, as he felt his paperwork was probably good enough. He asked if he should file it first, then come to see me. I convinced him to hold off on filing until we met, explaining that in all my years of doing these cases, I've never seen paperwork that I didn't have a hand in preparing that I would consider "good to go."

He came to see me, and I began by reviewing his Substance Abuse Evaluation. He had paid nearly $300 to get this done, and I felt bad when I had to tell him that the Counselor who had filled it out clearly was not experienced in doing these forms.

And here we encounter a huge problem. Just because someone had the legal credentials to administer and sign a Substance Abuse Evaluation does not mean they have the necessary experience with the DAAD to know what they're looking for, and what they are not concerned about. In his case, the part of the form that contained the "Prognosis," (probably the most important part of the whole form) was not clear enough to be interpreted as much of anything. I explained that a "Prognosis" for a person's continued abstinence from alcohol can only properly be stated by using the words Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, or Excellent. Any other description is not exact and specific enough for the DAAD to base a decision on. Phrases like "[the person] is adequately committed to remaining sober" do not really give a "Prognosis," and in his case, the $300 he paid bought him an essentially worthless evaluation.

The only good news I could give him in that regard was that the Clinic to which I generally refer my Clients only charges about $150 for an Evaluation, so at least he wouldn't have to shell out $300 all over again.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Restoration - Introduction - Part 2" »

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November 2, 2009

Michigan Driver's License Restoration - Introduction - Part 1

As a Michigan Lawyer who devotes a substantial part of his Practice to Driver's License Restoration Cases, I have written extensively about this subject on my Website. In past articles on this Blog, I have on several occasions divided longer articles into 2, and even 3 parts. Because the subject of Driver's License Restorations is so vast, I have decided to post a whole series of articles broken down section by section as I review the process and what's involved.

These are going to be long posts. There is no way to shortcut this subject. If you have any doubts about what's involved, take a look at the DAAD Practice Manual, and spend some time reading it. In a few minutes, you'll get the idea that this is complicated stuff. Just like no one can join a Karate class and get a black-belt in an hour or two, just familiarizing yourself with what's involved in getting your license back will take some time. If there was a shortcut, believe me, I'd be using it.

In this introductory article, which is itself so long that it needs to be broken into two parts, we'll do an abbreviated overview of License Restorations, in an attempt to point out some of the more important areas as well as some of the larger misconceptions surrounding the whole subject.

Driving.jpgIn my "About this Blog" article, I point out that even though my office is in Mt. Clemens, I handle Michigan License Restoration cases no matter where a person lives, whether in, or even outside of Michigan. That's because, as I point out in my Website, I can schedule all Hearings to take place at the Secretary of State's Driver's Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) Office in Livonia, Michigan, where I appear regularly. Thus, the information given on both my Website and the articles about this subject apply to everyone, no matter where they live (even if that's outside of Michigan), as long as they are in need of either a Clearance or Restoration of their Michigan Driver's License. I point this out because I go to great pains elsewhere on my Website and Blog to point out that in my Criminal Practice, I only take on those cases being heard in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties (and will, on occasion, handle a Criminal Case being heard in St. Clair, Lapeer or Livingston Counties).

Perhaps the first and biggest misconception I encounter springs from a Revoked Driver's belief that at the time they become "eligible" to appeal for a License, simply applying for a Hearing and testifying that they haven't been drinking will be enough to win their case. Likewise, some people think that just demonstrating how hard things have been without a License, or how they've been held back, either in employment or educational opportunities, in the absence of a License, is relevant to their case. These Applicants feel that hiring a Lawyer to sit with them at the Hearing can only make things better.

I suspect that some of this comes from their prior experience in Court, with their DUI Cases. In those cases, having a Lawyer who knows the Court is generally an asset. Sometimes, the goodwill or reputation of their Lawyer is perceived to have "rubbed off" to produce a more favorable outcome to their case. And for purposes of this article, there's no need to dispute that.

License Restoration Cases, however, are won or lost solely based upon the evidence presented. There is no 'benefit of the doubt" that is, or can be, granted in these Cases. That being said, I do believe it's vitally important that a person's Lawyer know what every DAAD Hearing Officer will ask, as well as what unique questions will be asked by any particular Hearing Officer, and that knowledge comes from day-in and day-out experience in appearing before them. This is why I only schedule my Cases in the Metro-Detroit Hearing Office in Livonia. Anyone from anywhere, who is seeking either the Clearance or Restoration of a Michigan License, is eligible to have their Hearing Scheduled at the office which would be considered "local" to their Lawyer. For me, that means all of my License Restoration Cases are scheduled in the Livonia Office.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Restoration - Introduction - Part 1" »

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