March 2011 Archives

March 28, 2011

Michigan Driver's License Restoration for Those who Live Anywhere

In my Practice as a full-time Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, I have attempted to put out as much information as possible about this subject. The Driver's License Restoration section of my Blog, which you're in right now, has well over 50 highly detailed, informational articles covering the whole panorama of License Appeals. This article will be about License Appeals for those who live beyond the Metro-Detroit area, and how I handle those cases.

I'm motivated to write this article because it seems that not a day goes by without my Office being contacted by people from all around the State of Michigan (and, of course, from those who have moved outside of the State) asking if I can do their License Appeal.

USA.jpgSo I want to be clear:

I CAN DO YOUR MICHIGAN LICENSE APPEAL NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE.

All you have to do is come and see me in my Office, located in Downtown Mt. Clemens, right across from the County Building. I'm located about a minute off of I-94, at the North River Road exit.

Many people with whom I speak have already read many, if not most of my Blog articles about License Appeals. Those who have know that I prefer to have the Substance Abuse Evaluation completed at a Clinic just a few blocks from my Office. I have pointed out that I have no connection with this Clinic aside from liking the fact that they do an excellent, honest job in completing this ultra-important part of the License Appeal process. As it turns out, I'm going there myself in the next week or so to update the staff as to the ever-evolving requirements of the Michigan Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD).

For anyone coming in from anyplace other than the local area, we'll schedule the initial Client meeting with me (which lasts about 3 hours) right before the Client has their appointment with the Clinic, if that's where they choose to do their Substance Abuse Evaluation. This means the Client can come see me, then go and have the Evaluation completed, and then go home, wherever that may be. As I have noted, I have no problem with someone going elsewhere for this Evaluation, but it has been my rather considerable experience that, more often than not, Evaluations from other sources fall short of what I feel is necessary to begin a successful License Appeal.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Restoration for Those who Live Anywhere" »

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March 25, 2011

Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal Win Guarantee

As a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, I have probably put out more information on this very subject than can be found, cumulatively, anywhere else. I have proudly proclaimed that in 2010, I won 100% of the more than 70 cases I filed. I have pointed out that, overall, my win percentage is in the high 90's. I have, in short, tried to convince a potential Client that I'm good at what I do, and I have a proven track record of succeeding at it.

Then I had one of the "a-ha" moments. If I'm really, nearly as good at this as I expect you to believe, why would I ask you to risk your money without a bit more than just my self-description of success? What could I do to put MY money (as opposed to yours) where MY mouth is?

Guarantee2.jpgThe answer hit me like a ton of bricks. How about backing up my claims with a guarantee? After all, if I'm as good as I claim, it really wouldn't be much of a risk for me to prove that, would it?

So here is my guarantee in Driver's License Restoration cases:

If I take your case, and I do not win your first License Appeal, the next one is absolutely FREE.
For all that talk about how much time I spend with my Clients (usually 3 hours at our first meeting) and how well my staff and I inspect everything to make sure I submit a rock-solid Appeal, why not back it up?

Now, before we go popping the corks on the non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice here, you've got to know there will be some limitations and exclusions.

My guarantee of a free second Appeal if the first one is not successful will not cover any case where the Client goes into some kind of "meltdown" at the Hearing, and starts revealing things that I should have been told beforehand. If, for example,a person begins this process, claiming Sobriety for a year, or two, or however many, but then shows up at the Hearing and admits to having had a sip of champagne last New Year, or having smoked a joint a few months before, that's not covered. Likewise, suddenly revealing a previously undisclosed drug use pattern, or any such thing as would have been relevant in our extensive discussions about Sobriety and Recovery, will void this guarantee.

In other words, my Guarantee is limited to my services. It protects the Client in case I somehow miss something.

So, in the interests of self-promoting, I can now boast not only having, far and away, the most information about License Restoration to be found anywhere, but being the first Lawyer I've ever heard of to guarantee the quality and outcome of a License Appeal.

The more analytical reader who stops and does the math must surely conclude, as I did before ever making this offer, that my potential exposure amounts to less than 5% additional work. That is, if I really do win well over 90% of the License Appeals I file (and I do), and I'm accurate in calculating that figure to actually be in the high 90's, then, at most, I'd be making less than 5% additional work for myself.

That math, however, essentially translates into a 100% guarantee for the Client.

So what are you waiting for, a ride to come and see me?

Let's get you back on the road, legally.

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March 21, 2011

Michigan License Restortation Appeals - Everyone's Recovery is Different

Having a keen understanding the concepts and principles of Sobriety and Recovery is necessary in order to be a successful License Restoration Lawyer. Beyond a working knowledge of the 12 steps of AA, or the somewhat simple notion of Abstinence, there lies a whole, vast world of different Recovery strategies people use to get and stay sober. This article will focus on how everyone has their own, unique approach to Sobriety, and how being able to articulate that approach is fundamental to winning a License Appeal.

In the body of my various Driver's License Restoration articles, I have pointed out how the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) has evolved from an agency that pretty much used to only grant Licenses to those actively involved in AA to an agency that has taken on a much broader, more progressive view of the Recovery process. One thing that has not changed a bit, however, is the fact that simply showing up at a Hearing and declaring "I quit drinking" is a sure-fire way to lose a License Appeal.

storybook2.pngI have likewise noted that more than half of the Clients for whom I win back a License are NOT actively involved in AA. Of those, about a third to a half have some prior AA contact. A fair number have never been to a 12 step meeting in their life.

As a group, however, my Clients, meaning people who can and will win (or already have won) their License Appeal, are able, by the time we get to our Hearing, to talk about their personal Recovery strategy. Often enough, when I first meet a Client, they need some help in being able to recount, much less describe, the kinds of changes they went through from being a drinker at the time of their last DUI Arrest to being a non-drinker ready to win a License Appeal. Many of them, at least at first, can't do much better than say "I quit drinking." That's where I come in.

In another article about License Restoration, I observed that everyone undertaking a License Appeal has a "Recovery story." It may not be written yet, but as I discussed in that article, the process a person undergoes in changing from a drinker into a non-drinker is a "story" in every sense of the word. My job as the person's Lawyer is to be, amongst other things, a kind of "ghost writer" who helps the person put the words to that story. And make no mistake, those words are important. In order to win a License Appeal, a Recovery story has to hit certain marks. Certain phrases are important. As different as they may be, every Recovery story has certain elements in common.

Some people find and fall in love with AA. AA is still the "golden child" of all Recovery programs. Even if a person never stepped foot into an AA meeting, chances are, if they went through any kind of Counseling or Rehab, they learned certain concepts that have their origin in AA.

Continue reading "Michigan License Restortation Appeals - Everyone's Recovery is Different" »

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March 18, 2011

Driver's License Restoration in Michigan - The Letters of Support

Amongst my many articles about Driver's License Restoration, I have not spent much time examining the required Letters of Support that must be submitted in every case. In truth, I have been reluctant to tackle this subject because I have thought that too much of what I could say about it is part of the "proprietary blend" of ingredients that is my stock-in-trade. In other words, I'm not about to give out the specifics of how I do this, any more than Coca-Cola is going to give the specifics of the "Natural Flavors" that are the basis of the Coke flavor. This is how I help my Clients win License Appeals. This is what I get paid to do.

After thinking about it for a while, however, I have concluded that there is plenty enough to be said about the Letters of Support without giving away any trade secrets.

Letters1.1.jpgFirst, its important to note that the Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) requires, in every License Appeal, at least 3, but not more than 6 Letters of Support. This is a procedural requirement, not a suggestion.

The Letters of Support must be submitted with the Original Request for a Hearing. In my Practice, almost all of my Clients will be in a position to submit finalized Letters at the time the Request for Hearing is made. In some cases, there might be a Letter or two that cannot be obtained or finalized by the time the Request for Hearing, Substance Abuse Evaluation and at least 3 Letters of Support are filed. If I don't submit them with the original Filing (sent to Lansing), I'll have the Client get them to me for review, and, if and when they're good enough for submission, will take them to the actual Hearing, where I'll present them to the Hearing Officer as we review the evidence and he or she asks if there is any additional evidence to be submitted.

And that's a very important point. Any Lawyer worth his or her Fee will be reviewing, and helping revise the Letters of Support long before anyone even THINKS about submitting them. Not that long ago, I was sitting in the waiting room at the DAAD Hearing Office, and my Client and I watched some Lawyer come in, take a few Letters from his Client, and being to review them. We sat in shock as he told the Client something like "I wish [the letter writer] would have said something about..."

What good were those Letters going to do? Why weren't those Letters of Support reviewed, and, perhaps more importantly, revised, beforehand?

I generally have revisions to almost every Letter of Support I review. Certainly, more than 90% of the Letters I review are sent back with proposed corrections. And this is after I've explained to the Client, at our first meeting (which lasts anywhere from 2 and ½ to 3 hours), in considerable detail, what the Letters must (and must not) say, and given them sample Letters to use as a starting point.

Continue reading "Driver's License Restoration in Michigan - The Letters of Support" »

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March 14, 2011

How High BAC (.17 and Above) DUI Cases in the Detroit-Area are Being Handled

Most people have already heard about the recent change in Michigan's DUI Law increasing the Charge and Penalties for what's called a High BAC case, meaning any case where a person's Bodily Alcohol Content (BAC) is .17 or above. The new Law adds a whole new, intermediate Drunk Driving offense to the palette of DUI Laws and consequences already in place.

This article will focus on how these charges are being handled in the Local Courts of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. In other words, what happens when a person is Stopped and Arrested in the Detroit-area for DUI and their breath or blood test results (BAC) are .17 or above.

Breath Test1.2.jpgIn that regard, perhaps the first, and most important distinction we need to make in this examination is the difference between a .17 or higher BAC result, and a .17 or higher BAC charge. This distinction is HUGE.

As it turns out, the way the Law works, most 1st Offense DUI charges are Ordinance Violations, meaning there is a Local (City, Township or Village) Law against Drunk Driving. There are, or course, a number of State Laws that prohibits Drunk Driving, but the key difference between being charged under State Law, or a corresponding Local Ordinance is that the Fines assessed in any given case go to whichever entity brings the charge. This is going to requires some discussion:

Under Michigan Law, municipalities can enact Criminal Ordinances of all kinds. They cannot however, make a Law that punishes a Crime by anything more than 93 days in Jail. There are all kinds of subtleties and technicalities involved in this, but we'll skip those in favor of a more simple explanation.

State Law punishes a 1st Offense DUI by up to 93 days in Jail. Any Municipality can likewise enact its own ordinance punishing a 1st DUI by up to 93 days in Jail. When a Police Officer Arrests someone for DUI, he or she can either write them up under the Ordinance of the Municipality in which the Arrest is made (usually, the City of Township for which they work), or under the State Law. The State Police, for example, always write up any DUI under the State Law. The Clinton Township Police Department, however, will write up a 1st Offender under the Township Ordinance. This makes the Fines assessed by the Court payable to the Township. In the case where the State Police write someone up for DUI, the Fines go to the State.

Continue reading "How High BAC (.17 and Above) DUI Cases in the Detroit-Area are Being Handled" »

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March 11, 2011

Michigan Driver's License Clearance - Can't Renew in Another State

As a Driver's License Restoration Attorney, I get questions about every part of the License Appeal process. In this blog, I have tried to answer as many of those as possible, and anyone interested in learning about this Process should read through the whole Driver's License Restoration category.

Since a good part of my Practice involves handling License Appeals for people who have moved out of State, I've run across pretty much every situation imaginable as it relates to having a Michigan License that has been Revoked for 2 or more DUI's. One such circumstance has come up several times recently. This article will focus on those situations where a person whose Driver's License has been Revoked in Michigan has been able to obtain a License in another State, only to find that they cannot renew it and must clear up the Michigan Revocation before they can be re-licensed elsewhere.

michigan3.jpgAs a general rule, once a person's License has been Revoked in Michigan, they will be unable to secure a License in any other State. This is because the National Driving Register ( NOT the "National Driving Registry," which is a for-profit site trying to cash in on the similarity of the names), maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety administration, keeps a record of all state actions against a person's License. Thus, when a person goes into a Department of Motor Vehicles in a state other than Michigan (where we call such a bureau the "Secretary of State"), a check is run both through that state's records, and the NDR. Once a person comes back as Revoked in Michigan, the state in which the Person is trying to get a License will inform them that they are ineligible for a License until they clear up the Michigan Revocation.

This wasn't always the case. In fact, although I have no specific data regarding when any particular state started using the NDR, what's clear is that any number of years ago, some states clearly did not. I have 2 License Appeal cases right now, one for a person who was able to get a License in Florida, and another in Oregon, some years ago. In each case, they were told that they would be unable to renew those Licenses until the Revocations from Michigan are cleared. Obviously, since the time each of those Clients first obtained their out-of-state License, both Florida and Oregon began checking the National Driving Register.

To the best of my knowledge, every state in the Country now runs a check of the NDR before issuing a License. Of course, I know that anyone contacting me about a Michigan Clearance has already been denied in another State.

To clear the way for being Licensed in another state, a person must obtain a "Clearance" of their Michigan Driver's License. In other words, a person who has moved out of state is not eligible to have a Michigan Driver's License "Restored," unless they're moving back to Michigan.

Continue reading "Michigan Driver's License Clearance - Can't Renew in Another State" »

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March 7, 2011

Why I say "no" to Video Hearings in Michigan Driver's License Restoration Cases

As a License Restoration Lawyer who typically handles over 70 License Appeals per year, I only conduct live, in-person Hearings as part of my Practice. Beyond that, I have every case for I handle scheduled for Hearing in the Metro-Detroit Office of the Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) in Livonia, where I appear before the same Hearing Officers again and again. I do not believe in "Video Hearings," and will not schedule a case for one.

This article, shorter than those typically found in the Driver's License Restoration section of this blog, will examine the main reasons why I feel so strongly about that.

 video conference2.jpgFirst, I believe that part of consistently winning any kind of case is a function of knowing the person before whom you're going to appear. In a Court case, for example, I would much prefer to be represented by a Lawyer who is familiar with the Judge, rather than one who isn't. The same holds true for License Appeals. Each and every Hearing Officer will first ask a core group of essentially the same questions, then turn to those areas that they feel are most important. And those areas differ a bit from Hearing Officer to Hearing Officer. This means that the Client who has been well-prepared for what is going to be asked will know what's coming, and be ready for it. A person who has not been prepared, especially for those questions unique to this or that Hearing Officer, is likely to be in for a surprise, and there are seldom any pleasant surprises in Legal Proceedings.

Second, it has been my experience, over and over again, that when I meet with a new Client who has tried a License Appeal before they hired me, and lost, many of those losing cases involve video Hearings. Whatever the reasons for that, when one thing follows another often enough, we just begin to accept that "that's the way it is," like thunder follows lightning. I have seen no track record for video Hearings except a losing one.

Continue reading "Why I say "no" to Video Hearings in Michigan Driver's License Restoration Cases" »

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March 4, 2011

3rd Offense (Felony) DUI cases and the Realities of Jail, or not - Part 2

In part 1 of this article, we looked at how the particular County in which a person's 3rd offense DUI charge is pending plays an important role in how things ultimately turn out. In this second part, we'll begin examining why the threat of being sent to Prison is more bark than bite, and what kind of Sentences are really passed out in 3rd offense cases.

In the first part of this article, we confirmed the rather well-known fact that Oakland County is the toughest of the 3 local Counties in which to face a 3rd offense (Felony) DUI, or any DUI charge, for that matter.

holding on.jpgLet's hit the "pause" button here for a moment. If Oakland County is the toughest of the 3 Detroit area jurisdictions, and a person is realistically facing a deal where the worst case is about 100 to 150 days in Jail, what all that racket about "up to 5 years in Prison?"

In order to be sent to Prison for 5 years, a person must usually have a number of prior 3rd Offense DUI Felonies. In 20 years of handling DUI cases, I've never seen anyone with 2 or 3 prior DUI convictions be sent to the State Prison. Remember, Jail is where a person goes for up to a year, and Prison is where they're sent for a Sentence that calls for a minimum of 1 year. In other words, you have to be a really hard case to actually be facing a Prison term. This means that the overwhelming majority of 3rd offense DUI Offenders are facing, at worst, a Jail term, and not a Prison Sentence.

I think one of the most underrated components of successfully handling DUI cases involves the degree of the Defense Lawyer's enthusiasm for the Client. I might ruffle a few feathers here, but I strongly believe that it is extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, to switch sides and go from being a Police Officer, or a Prosecutor, to being a Defense Lawyer who has a real empathy for someone facing a DUI charge, particularly a 3rd Offense. To the Police, Drunk Drivers are (understandably) people best taken and kept off the streets. Prosecutors are the ones who try and keep them off the streets. An old investigator I once knew believed that those formative career years shape a person's natural disposition and can never be completely stripped away. His phrase about hat he perceived as the inability of a Prosecutor to become, heart and soul, a Defense Lawyer (or, for that matter, the other way around), is that "the die has already been cast."

For the most part, I agree with that, because it has always been my job to help my DUI Clients avoid any, or as much Jail as possible. I look for, and see the good in them, and share with them the regret for what's happened, and the fear for what is going to happen. I try with every fiber of my being to coax a better deal, or get a bigger break, or do whatever I can to make the outcome of their case as good and lenient as possible for them. If I suddenly became a Prosecutor, I would not be able to just not shake my concern for the person standing in front of the Judge, even though my job would be to make it tough on them. In short, I'd make a lousy Prosecutor because I just couldn't invest my whole heart into what I was doing. I picked my side long ago. The die, in other words, has already been cast.

Continue reading "3rd Offense (Felony) DUI cases and the Realities of Jail, or not - Part 2" »

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