October 2011 Archives

October 31, 2011

Losing a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal Because of a "Questionable/Insufficient" Substance Abuse Evaluation - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, we began examining the role of the Substance Abuse Evaluation in a License Appeal. I defined that role as "foundational." From there, we examined why so many Evaluators feel qualified to "do" a Driver's License Appeal Substance Abuse Evaluation, and what it means for the final product to be a disappointment and waste of money if the State declares to be "questionable/insufficient."

In this 2nd Part, we will continue by examining how the very term "Substance Abuse Evaluation" can be part of the problem in finding an Evaluator who knows what the Secretary of State is looking for within that form, and then we will begin doing a section-by-section analysis of the form itself.

rejected stamp2.jpgPart of my success in License Appeals is no doubt due the fact that once I found a Clinic that did a consistently good job completing Substance Abuse Evaluations, I began communicating with them. I have actually gone in and met with their Counselors and explained what the State is looking for, and answered their questions about doing a proper job on the Substance Abuse Evaluation form. As a result, they have a detailed knowledge of what is important to the DAAD, as well as what is not. Ironically, this Clinic charges less ($199) than almost any other Clinic I have heard about, while managing to do a better job.

We can take from this that the term "Substance Abuse Evaluation" within the context of a License Appeal has a very specific, and different meaning than it does in other contexts.

Recently, I met a Client who has been seeing a Substance Abuse Counselor for a number of years. This Client expressed a preference to have the Evaluation completed by that Counselor, despite my stated reservations, based upon my experience with so many individuals who assure their Clients/Patients that "I can do that." The Evaluation came back last week, and it needs to be fixed. While not an outright disaster, it is clear to me that whoever did it does not have a clear picture of what the DAAD is looking for. As it stands, it is not good enough.

One of the requirements, clearly stated (although in very small print) on the Evaluation itself is that the actual Substance Abuse diagnostic test, along with the actual answer sheet the Client filled out be attached. In the case I just mentioned, it wasn't. This is a common, but potentially fatal error. On top of that, the State form has various "dialogue boxes" where the Evaluator's reasoning must be stated for reaching any particular conclusion, be it a Diagnosis or a Prognosis, or whatever else is being asked. This Evaluation came with an attachment sheet containing further explanations in a number of those areas. While that may, at first, appear helpful, in reality, it is not. Instead, it means the person doing the Evaluation does not quite understand exactly what is being asked, and cannot confine their responses to the space provided. There is simply no need, in ANY case, to "go outside the lines" of the State's form.

Continue reading "Losing a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal Because of a "Questionable/Insufficient" Substance Abuse Evaluation - Part 2" »

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October 28, 2011

Losing a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal Because of a "Questionable/Insufficient" Substance Abuse Evaluation - Part 1

In previous articles within the Driver's License Restoration Section of this blog, I have written about why so many "do-it-yourself" License Appeals lose, as well as those handled by Lawyers who claim to "do" License restoration cases, albeit not as a specific concentration of their Practice. In most of those articles, as in this one, I have begun by pointing out that "Rule 13," which governs Michigan Drivers' License Appeals (and applies equally to Appeals seeking either Restoration of a Michigan Drivers' License, or a Clearance of a Michigan "hold" on a person's Driving Record) mandates that the Hearing Officer deciding the case "shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner..." proves their case "by clear and convincing evidence."

This language from Rule 13 sets the stage for EVERY License Appeal to either win, or lose. However, saying that is a lot like saying that in any sporting contest, the person or team with the most points wins. Such an oversimplification tends to ignore the importance of things like preventing the other side from scoring, and not being disqualified for fouls or illegal moves. In other words, there is a lot more to it than that.

Rejected copy3.jpgIn this article, we will look at a specific, very common reason so many License Appeals are Denied; that the Substance Abuse Evaluation filed with the Appeal was "questionable/insufficient." Rather than focus on the general application of the standard of proof required under Rule 13, or the various legal issues specified within the Rule, we'll examine this real-world reason people are often turned down. This will be a serious and long article, and because of the amount of detail and information contained in it, will be broken in to 3 sub-parts.

At this point, anyone who has read this far is either a detail-kind of person, like me, and hungry for knowledge, or has already previously tried a License Appeal and lost. And if the reader is in the latter category, there is a good chance that, within the Order of Denial from that previous attempt, it is noted that the Substance Abuse Evaluation submitted as part of that Appeal was "questionable/insufficient."

What does that mean? And how does it relate to Rule 13?

We'll answer those questions in turn.

As I have pointed out on both my website, and in the various articles about this subject within this blog, the Substance Abuse Evaluation is the very foundation of a License Appeal. This is why, in my Office, my FIRST meeting with a Client is scheduled for about 3 hours, and is focused almost entirely on preparing the Client to undergo the Evaluation.

It is important to note the timing of this: I need to meet with the Client for 3 hours BEFORE they go and have their Evaluation completed. Meeting after the fact is like buying an instant lottery ticket; whatever is in there is already in there, meaning it's either a winner or a loser, and no amount of talking about it is going to change what has already been printed.

Continue reading "Losing a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal Because of a "Questionable/Insufficient" Substance Abuse Evaluation - Part 1" »

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October 24, 2011

How to Clear up a Michigan Hold on Your Driver's License and Get a License in Another State - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, we began examining the process by which someone who has moved out of Michigan, but has a Michigan "hold" on their Driving Record goes about obtaining a "Clearance," which releases that hold. We observed that in the year 2010, the Secretary of State received 875 Administrative Appeals, and DENIED 650 of them, meaning that 3 out of 4 such Appeals Lost. By contrast, I pointed out that in that same year, I conducted over 70 live License Hearings, and won each and every one, meaning that 100% of my Clients got back on the road.

In this second part, we will examine my Office protocol for accepting and handling out-of-state Driver's License Appeals. We left off at the end of the first part of this article by noting that in an Administrative Appeals, (and 3 out of 4 cases being Denied proves this), it is quite likely that the Hearing Officer reviewing the case will have a question, or questions, but with no way to ask them, will be left with no choice but to Deny it. We noted that the State, will say, in essence, "See you next year..."

michiganC44.gifThe benefit to me, as a License Restoration Lawyer, is that once someone tries an Administrative Appeal and loses, they are almost always "all ears" when the chance for next year's Appeal rolls around. About the only question they have of me is how soon they can come in and start the process.

And it is a process. It is a labor-intensive, important process for which there are no shortcuts. My first meeting with a new Client is scheduled for 3 hours, and is pretty much solely dedicated to preparing them to undergo the mandatory Substance Abuse Evaluation. And that's just the first step.

Having handled hundreds of cases for people who live out of state, and for hundreds who still live here, in Michigan, but rather far away from my Office, I have developed a pretty efficient system for having them come in the day of their Substance Abuse Evaluation, meeting with them for about 3 hours, then sending them around the block to have the Evaluation completed.

Normally, I like my Clients to have their Substance Abuse Evaluation completed at a local Clinic a few blocks from my Office. I prefer this Clinic because they do a top-notch job of completing the Evaluation. By "top-notch job," I DO NOT mean that they simply take someone's money and crank out a favorable report. The State can smell that kind of quackery a mile away. The Clinic I like does not rent or sell its integrity, and instead conducts a thorough Evaluation which results in a Clinically accurate diagnosis and prognosis of and for a person's alcohol problem and Recovery. This means that a person must, in fact, be both Sober, and committed to remaining Sober, in order to pass muster. Fakers and scammers need not apply.

Normally, a person will have their Evaluation scheduled about 4 hours after our meeting time, so that we can spend 3 hours together preparing for that first step, then they can go and spend another hour getting it done. After that, they can go home, wherever that may be. We can do the rest of our work via phone and fax and email.

Continue reading "How to Clear up a Michigan Hold on Your Driver's License and Get a License in Another State - Part 2" »

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October 21, 2011

How to Clear up a Michigan Hold on Your Driver's License and Get a License in Another State - Part 1

As a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, I file (and win) over 100 License Appeals each year. More than half of those Appeals are for people who now live outside of Michigan, but are still unable to get a License in another state because of a Michigan "hold" on their driving Record. Most of these cases involve a person having multiple DUI convictions. It is not necessary that all, or even any of those DUI's took place in Michigan. What matters (as anyone reading this has no doubt already discovered) is that the person had a Michigan Driver's License that was Revoked for 2 or more DUI's within 7 years, or 3 or more within 10 years, wherever they may have occurred.

While I have written rather extensively on this topic within the Driver's License Restoration section of my blog, it seems that unless I regularly keep writing about this particularly important topic, finding those articles about "out-of-state" Michigan Drivers' License Restoration issues requires some digging. As always, I will try to do more than just re-state what I've already said in previous articles. Accordingly, this will be a long, 2-part article that will not only explore the options for out-of-state residents who are being held back by a Michigan "hold" on their Driving Record, but will also examine how I handle these cases and get my out-of-state Clients back on the road.

michiganB55.gifWhen a person has left Michigan without having had their Driver's License Restored, meaning they have left with their License still Revoked, they often don't understand that this Revocation will prevent them from obtaining a License in another state. Sometimes, because they intend to live outside of Michigan and have no intention of ever returning (except, perhaps, for a visit), they have ideas of beginning afresh in a new place.

As they soon discover, however, the Michigan "hold" on their Driver's License follows them everywhere.

In fact, most people who find me do so as a consequence of learning that they must "clear" the hold on their Michigan Driving Record. Very few people research this issue before they go to the DMV of their new state. Instead, they come home from that DMV and start trying to figure out how to clear up this mess.

In that regard, it does not matter if a person now lives out of State, lives around the block from my Office in Mt. Clemens, or lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, because in each and every one of those cases, there are 2, and only 2, procedures available to clear up a Michigan Driver's License Revocation. We'll get to those shortly. What's different for those who live out of state is the relief sought by whichever procedure a person uses to try and move forward. Let me explain:

A person who lives in Michigan, and wants their License Restored will file for a "Restoration" of their Michigan Driver's License. In other words, they want their Michigan License back. A person who no longer lives in Michigan, and who wants a License in another state, will seek what is called a "Clearance" of their Michigan Driving Record, which means a release of Michigan's hold, or, to put it another way, a "voiding out" of the previous Revocation that prevents them from obtaining a License in their new state.

Continue reading "How to Clear up a Michigan Hold on Your Driver's License and Get a License in Another State - Part 1" »

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October 17, 2011

Driver's License Restoration Appeals in Michigan - Know Your Hearing Officer - Part 2

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at how an important part of any License Appeal is the specific Hearing Officer to whom the case has been assigned. We talked about 3 of the 5 Hearing Officers before whom I appear in the Metro-Detroit Branch of the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) in Livonia. In the interests of diplomacy, I have refrained from using their actual names, but have instead referred to them by the nickname that I think encapsulates their most prominent characteristic(s).

Grey guy3.1.jpgWe'll pick up by looking at the 2 Hearing Officers generally considered the "toughest" of the group. I use the term "toughest" rather liberally here. In my experience, while these Hearing Officers are no doubt firm, they are also unquestionably fair in application of the Law to any case before them. Sometimes, especially if a person does not understand the subtleties of the law, and especially if they really and truly have been Sober for a while, they feel slighted for being Denied, without fully understanding that any such Denial isn't a decision that they're not Sober, but rather a decision that they have failed to prove that their alcohol problem is under control, and that their alcohol problem is likely to remain under control, by the required "clear and convincing evidence" standard.

With that, let's turn out attention to the two remaining Hearing Officers:

4. The Doctor. Perhaps the "hardest" (okay, "toughest") of all Hearing Officers, this individual tends to approach the entire process more from that side of the governing Rule (Rule13) which directs that "The Hearing Officer shall NOT order that a License be issued, unless the Petitioner, by clear and convincing evidence, proves the following..." (emphasis added). In other words, this Hearing Officer has the highest standard for what he considers to be "clear and convincing evidence." He has the nose of a tracking dog for any use of drugs, meaning past drug use, or current prescription drug use, as well as cases involving any kind of anxiety, depression, or other mental health or mood issues. If any of those issues are present, or were ever present, then preparing for a Hearing before him will typically involve getting a letter from one's treatment provider addressing his specific concerns, including that the prescribing physician or treatment provider knows about the person's alcohol and or drug problem(s). Likewise, he tends to make a microscopic examination of any issues involving anxiety or mood disorders, or any kind of bi-polar issues. Whatever else, he is not content to accept the Substance Abuse Evaluator's conclusion that such an issue "isn't a problem."

Continue reading "Driver's License Restoration Appeals in Michigan - Know Your Hearing Officer - Part 2" »

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October 14, 2011

Driver's License Restoration Appeals in Michigan - Know Your Hearing Officer - Part 1

In a recent article, I wrote about the importance of being "prepped" for a Driver's License Restoration Appeal Hearing. The focus of that article was on the general process of preparation for License Hearing. Here, we'll narrow that focus to a specific question that I am often asked by my Clients once the Notice of Hearing is sent from Lansing, and the name of the Hearing Officer who will be deciding the Appeal is disclosed: "What do you know about this Hearing Officer?"

In every such case, the answer is " a lot."

As usual for me, this will be a long article, and will, like so many others I have written, be broken into 2 parts.

Blue person.jpgAs I have noted on my website and in some of the articles in the Drivers' License Restoration section of this blog, I have every case I handle set for a live Hearing at the Livonia branch of the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD). There are only 3 such DAAD Hearing Offices in Michigan: Lansing, Grand Rapids and Livonia.

Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the question that is the subject of this article, I should also reiterate that I only do "live Hearings." In other words, I NEVER do any kind of "video Hearing." This is noteworthy because very recently, the DAAD began allowing Hearings to be conducted at the Clinton Township Branch of the Secretary of State Office on Metropolitan Parkway (16 Mile) and Gratiot. This Branch Office is only about 4 or 5 minutes from my Office in Mt. Clemens, while getting to the Livonia Office takes about an hour, or even a bit more, from my front door. Despite that, it has never so much as crossed my mind to do anything other than show up, in person, for a live Hearing in Livonia. I not only believe in live Hearings, I ONLY believe in live Hearings.

This means that, over the course of my career, I have had every case I have ever handled set of a live Hearing in the Metro-Detroit DAAD Hearing Office. Formerly located in Southfield, this Office moved to Livonia a few years ago.

Having appeared before this same group of Hearing Officers again and again, I have certainly come to know the idiosyncrasies and particularities and quirks of each, and quite well, at that. This is a HUGE benefit as I prepare the Client to testify before any one of them.

Continue reading "Driver's License Restoration Appeals in Michigan - Know Your Hearing Officer - Part 1" »

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October 10, 2011

Guaranteed Win in a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal

This article will detail a change, or, more particularly, a clarification (and kind of extension) of my Guarantee to win any Driver's License Restoration Appeal that I accept. In a previous article, I announced that I Guarantee I will win any License Appeal I accept, "or the next one is free." For someone who prides himself on the precision of the language he uses, and given that this blog has more highly detailed, informational articles about Driver's License Restoration that can be found on every other website out there combined, I have to admit that I missed the mark and did not properly explain my Guarantee very well. I assumed (and remember, one should NEVER assume) that everyone would understand that to mean that I simply guaranteed, in exchange for my Fee, that I would get the Client back on the road. At least, that's what I meant...

To clarify, then:

I GUARANTEE THAT I WILL WIN ANY DRIVER'S LICENSE APPEAL I ACCEPT THE FIRST TIME. IF NOT, I WILL HANDLE ANY SUBSEQUENT SECRETARY OF STATE LICENSE APPEAL WITHOUT ADDITIONAL FEES UNTIL THE CLIENT DOES WIN.

Success copy2.1.jpgIn other words, you pay me once, and if that Appeal is Denied (as of this writing, by the way, I have won 184 out of the last 186 Appeals I have filed since I began keeping track back in June of 2009, giving me a first time " win rate" of 98.92%, meaning that I don't have very much experience NOT winning the first time), I will go back to the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) until we win.

This really involves no risk for me, but does provide assurance to the Client that I'm not about to just accept a Fee and not be able to deliver what they're hiring me for.

Of course, there are limitations. If, for example, the Client has some kind of "meltdown" at the Hearing, and starts testifying about a drug use pattern that they previously failed to disclose, or if they admit to having taken a few hits off of a joint a few months ago, then the Guarantee does not apply.

To put this in perspective, I promise that if a person comes to me and has, indeed, been Sober for what I determine to be long enough, and is committed to remaining Sober, and I take their case, then they can count on me to get their License back. If there is something defective within the evidence submitted as part of their Appeal, then I think its only fair that I would go back next time to rectify something that, by all accounts, I must have missed.

But I don't miss things. This is my job, and my passion.

Continue reading "Guaranteed Win in a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal" »

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October 7, 2011

Winning a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal Means Being Sober First

In the Driver's License Restoration section of this blog, my various articles examine every aspect and facet of the License Appeal process in sometimes microscopic and painful detail. There is, of course, a method to my madness. I know that it is precisely that attention to detail that has resulted in my winning 184 out of the last 186 License Appeals I have filed (giving me a win rate of 98.92%), since I began really keeping track back in about June of 2009. It is also this attention to detail that makes me so sure I'll win any License Appeal I take the first time that I offer a Guarantee that if I do not, I will handle any subsequent License Hearing without additional Fees until I get the Client back on the road.

In a few of my articles, I have talked about Sobriety. Sobriety is, in fact, a first requirement in a License Appeal. Yet sometimes, I think beyond being the first requirement, it is also the first thing forgotten, or lost sight of, in a Driver's License Restoration case. This article will not just reexamine what I have already dissected in my other articles about "Sobriety," but will look at what the State needs to hear about on the subject from anyone hoping to win back their License. This will be a longer article.

Stove3.jpgIn another recent article, I pointed out that Rule 13 of the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) governs a Driver's License Restoration Appeal. We went on to boil Rule 13 down to 2 parts:

  1. That the person's alcohol problem is under control, and
  2. That the person's alcohol problem is likely to remain under control.
In a very real way, this mean that the person has been Sober since "X" date (usually a date MORE than a year prior to an Appeal being filed), and will likely remain Sober for the rest of their life.

Upon further examination, we will see that while being "Sober" necessarily means one is abstinent, being "abstinent" does not, necessarily, mean being "Sober." This might make more sense if we look at an example.

Say Snake the Biker got off Probation for his second DUI about a year ago. If we were to ask him about not drinking, and how that's working out for him, Snake might say something like this:

"I hate it. Dude, I'm a Biker. What kind of Biker can't drink beer?" This sucks. But, I know that if I pick up another DUI, I'll be sent off to Jail or Prison for at least a year, I'll lose my motorcycle repair shop, I won't be in the Club anymore, and I'll lose my house, too. So I just sit here, drinking Coke, and hating this mess."

Snake may be abstinent, but he's far from Sober.

Continue reading "Winning a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal Means Being Sober First" »

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October 3, 2011

Simplifying a Michigan License Appeal and Understanding DAAD Rule 13 - Part 2

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of Rule 13, the rule governing License Appeals. We began with the premise that the first 3 issues of Rule 13 actually all fold into the first issue. We then examined how the second issue in fact does just that, and how and why, after proving the first issue, number 2 can be considered already proven, or moot.

In this second part, we'll pick up by showing how the third issue, like the second, actually "folds" into the first, and how, just as with that second issue, once a person has proven the first, the third can be considered to have been proven, as well.

SuperEasy1.jpgTo put it another way, there really aren't 3 issues here, there is only 1, kind of stated in 3 different ways. This transforms this seemingly complex Rule into something rather easy to understand

Remember, what we're talking about in terms of the first issue has been boiled down to essentially mean that a person must show that they're alcohol problem "is likely to remain under control," which we then interpreted as meaning that the person is a safe bet to never drink again.

The third issue reads as follows:

(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.

We can simplify this and take it to mean the person is a low to minimal risk to drink and drive again.

We must therefore ask, how is it even possible that person's alcohol problem has been proven to be "likely to remain under control," but the person could not likewise be said to be a low to minimal risk to drink and drive again, which is really what issue number 3 (iii) is all about?

And the answer: It is not.

Accordingly, by proving that their alcohol problem is "likely to remain under control," a person will have likewise and simultaneously proven that they are a low to minimal risk to drink and drive again. Issue number 3 (iii), then folds into the first, just like issue number 2 (ii) folds into the first. In effect, is also redundant.

Continue reading "Simplifying a Michigan License Appeal and Understanding DAAD Rule 13 - Part 2" »

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