Within the numerous articles in the Driver's License Restoration section of this blog, I have attempted to answer many of the questions I am asked about this subject, explain the process in detail, and micro-analyze some of the more important parts of that process. This rather long article will be a bit different in that, while it is an attempt to answer a question I am sometimes asked, it will answer questions about me, and why anyone looking to retain a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer should hire me.
This question typically comes up as people ask why they should pay $3000 for my services when there are other Lawyers who will "do" a License Restoration case for less. Of course, there are also Lawyers who charge more than I do, but this article isn't about them.
This is a fair and honest question, and it deserves an equally honest answer.
To begin, it is important to note that for all the endorsements I am about ready to heap upon myself, I back them up with a guarantee that I will win any License Appeal that I accept, or the next Hearing is free. Given that, in the last 2 years or so, I have won 168 out of the 170 License Appeals I have filed (that's a win rate of about 98.4%), I have every reason to back up my words.
I start with this because every Lawyer out there boasts about having "experience." Experience is great, but it needs to be winning experience to be worth anything. A boxer with a 36-39 record has the same experience as one with a 73-2 record, but wouldn't you rather bet your money on the guy with the 73-2 record?
Next, I think it is important to assess the Lawyer's experience and understanding of the License Restoration process. Anyone can write a web page or two and give some generalizations about their "experience" and the License Restoration process, but if you're about to invest your money in a License Appeal knowing that, if you lose, you cannot Appeal again for another whole year, then you need to make sure that any Lawyer you're considering will get you back on the road the first time. All the money saved in going "low bidder" will only be a huge regret if you get stuck bumming rides for the next 12 months.
Which brings me to my next point. Looking for a License Appeal Lawyer on a "low bidder" basis is about the worst decision a person can make. A few years ago, I considered having that Lasik eye surgery to get rid of my glasses. I decided not to do it because I'd still need "readers" for magnification when I read, so the process would not have freed me from glasses entirely. When I was looking for the best eye surgeon for me, price WAS NOT an issue. I wanted the best surgeon out there. A botched job and a big discount was a nightmare I wanted to avoid. To my surprise, I learned that the "discount" corrective surgery operations were able to come up with those low-ball prices because they bought used, older equipment from the more "expensive" surgeons who had upgraded to the latest and greatest.
That's not to say a person should get "soaked" on a License Appeal. Awhile back, I represented a Client who almost paid $5000 for a License Appeal to a Lawyer with a generally good reputation as a general practitioner. In my 20 years of doing these cases, I have NEVER seen that guy at the DAAD. Beyond getting soaked on Fees, that Client would have gotten "hosed" in results, as well.
In that regard, I have never met a Lawyer who has done as many License Appeals as I do. In fact, I don't know any Lawyer who has handled as many Appeals in their career as I have in the last 2 or 3 years. I often point out that there is a huge difference between Lawyers who "do" License Appeal, and those, like me, who specialize in them. In my 20-plus years, I have NEVER filed or handled a Divorce case. If I started tomorrow, I could honestly tell anyone that I "do" Divorces. That's a far cry from specializing in them, however, or that field being my bread and butter. For what it's worth, I'd rather be in charge of slapping ketchup on Whoppers before I'd ever "do" Divorce cases, anyway.
The License Appeal process is just that; it is a process. In my various blog articles, I have gone over every part of that process. It starts with determining if a person is both eligible and ready to file a License Appeal. "Eligible" means the minimum period of Revocation has passed. "Ready" means the person has enough provable voluntary sobriety to actually win an Appeal. The DAAD, for example, will NOT grant a License to anyone on Probation or Parole. Many of the Clients I get have tried before, either on their own, or with some Lawyer who claimed to "do" License Appeals, only to be Denied because they were either still on Probation, or not off of it long enough.
You'll see all kinds of discussion about the Substance Abuse Evaluation, which is an actual State form that needs to be completed as part of a legally required assessment done by a certified Substance Abuse Counselor. In my Office, the very first meeting I have with a Client takes about 3 hours, and is done PRIOR to their undergoing the Substance Abuse Evaluation, in order to prepare them for it. If this first step is not undertaken carefully, then everything that happens thereafter is a matter of luck, or bad luck. There are no shortcuts if you want to do this right. I don't invest 3 hours of my time at that first meeting to talk about baseball; I do it because I want to make sure any Appeal I accept will win.
I have extensive knowledge about the concepts of alcoholism, cross addiction, recovery and sobriety. As I noted in another article about DUI, it is not my experience as a License Restoration Lawyer that helped me accumulate this knowledge; instead, it is my accumulated knowledge of these things that has made me an excellent License Restoration Lawyer. This is a field of study in which I have been deeply involved for over 20 years. To me, a comprehensive understanding of the whole panorama of approaches and schools of thought regarding alcohol and substance abuse related problems, and recovery from them, is an absolute prerequisite to specializing in License Appeals. After all, it is the person's own understanding of those concepts, and how they have incorporated them into their life which is the subject of the DAAD's inquiry.
Once that Substance Abuse Evaluation has been completed, it needs to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb. A Substance Abuse Evaluation must meet 2 requirements in order to be "good," meaning NOT cause an Appeal to lose:
- It must be legally adequate, or, as the DAAD terms it, "legally sufficient," and,
- It must be "favorable," meaning it has a prognosis of either "good" or, in exceptional cases, "excellent."
To make sure nothing is missed, both my Senior Legal Assistant, Ann, and me separately review it prior to submission. Two sets of eyes are always better than one (even though we both wear glasses when we read them...).
The required "Letters of Support" are far more than just "good guy" letters detailing how much the person has suffered without a License and how much they'd now respect and treasure the ability to drive again. They must contain specific information, and in order to make sure any letters I submit contain that information, I have my Clients forward draft copies to me so that I may properly edit them before the letter writer signs off on them. In truth, I substantially edit more than 95% of the letters I get. That means that less than 5% of the letters first submitted to me are good enough. And I'm not talking grammar and spelling here, either.
After the Appeal (meaning a Request for Hearing along with the Substance Abuse Evaluation and the Letters of Support, along with any additional Documents that might be helpful) has been filed, a Hearing date will be set. Once that date has been determined, and I know which particular Hearing Officer will be handling the case, I prepare the Client not just for the Hearing in general, but the specific Hearing Officer to which it has been assigned. This is key, because I have every case I take scheduled for a Hearing in the Livonia Branch of the Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division. This means I know each of the 5 Hearing Officer conducting these Hearings, and I know what areas of inquiry are important to any one of them as opposed to another. And they are as different as any 5 people you'd meet in a park, so the way to properly prepare for any one in particular may be quite different from the way to prepare for a Hearing in front of another.
I absolutely DO NOT do video Hearings. I think that's a risk not worth taking. Beyond being impersonal, there is NO WAY to hand the Hearing Officer any new documentation when they are in another location.
Nor do I bring in live witnesses. That 20-plus years' experience I have has taught me that witnesses are only a liability. They can say whatever they need to in a letter, but a letter does not "goof up," nor does it get nervous or otherwise create any of the problems that a live witness can.
And my approach works. I hesitate to sound cocky by saying this, but I don't know anyone who knows half as much as I do about this stuff. I think I can safely say that there is no one better at this than I am.
On top of that, I really and truly enjoy being a License Restoration Lawyer. No other area of my Practice is as enjoyable as this to me. If my blog articles demonstrate anything, it is, I hope, that I am passionate about this. And it shouldn't be hard to figure out why: I get the chance to help someone on the upswing of their lives get something they'll truly appreciate. Keeping someone out of Jail in a 2nd Offense DUI is all well and good, but, at best, I'm only minimizing the misery someone is going to endure as a result of what they've done. In a License Appeal, I am able to bring something positive to the Client, to actually give them a benefit that will make their lives better right away. Often, for those who've gone through the hell of losing their License for multiple DUI's, their Driver's License is the last piece of the puzzle not in place as they've rebuilt their lives. I like helping someone who has worked for something, and earned it, win it back.
For all of this, I realize that no one Lawyer is the right person for everyone. I have repeatedly pointed out that, while I am in business to make money, I have absolutely ZERO interest in taking a case for someone, no matter how much money they have and are willing to pay, who is not honestly sober. Anyone who tells me that they'll say whatever I tell them to, but still thinks they can have a glass of wine with dinner every now and then, or drink the occasional beer can just skip calling me. I'm not interested.
In the end, finding the right Lawyer for any kind of case means doing your homework. Read what they've written. Use the phone. Ask questions. Anyone who is as good as they say should never hesitate to answer your questions, and should welcome the opportunity for a prospective Client to "compare notes" with whatever other information the person has obtained while searching for a Lawyer.
To see how I answer your questions, feel free to call me anytime, Mon. thru Fri., between 8:30 and 5, at (586) 228-6523. If you'd rather, you can drop me a line by email.