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

March 18, 2011

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.

I can only wonder how far off the mark those Letters would be if I didn't rather carefully explain how to do them, and provide the Client with some sample Letters to use as a guide.

This is expected. This is part of what I do. That I have revisions to almost every Letter in every License Appeal that I handle is just part of the process to me. But it is an incredibly important part of the process, because the Letters of Support, just like the Substance Abuse Evaluation, are part of the very foundation of a License Appeal. There is no winning a License Appeal without good Letters of Support.

What constitutes "good" is a lot more than what a colleague of mine rather accurately calls a mere "good guy letter." In other words, how much the person has learned from their mistakes, and how hard it has been for them to get along without a License, how nice they are, what a wonderful son/daughter, mother/father, husband/wife, and/or brother/sister they are, and how much they'd appreciate and treasure the ability to drive again are all precisely worth about ZERO in a letter of support.

And part of that "proprietary blend" that I have in helping with these Letters isn't simply slapping in a few standard lines. Instead, it involves making sure the Letters not only attest to necessary and relevant facts about the Client, but also that the Letters are consistent with the person depicted in the Substance Abuse Evaluation. This goes back to the whole notion of a person's License Appeal really being the "Story" of their Recovery, and how this all must come together in a kind of "Magical" way to result in a win. It is time consuming, both for me and for the Client, but, as the saying goes, good work is the key to good fortune. Nothing good comes cheap, or easy. But getting back on the road, legally, is certainly worth the effort.