December 2011 Archives

December 30, 2011

Michigan Driver's License Holds - Unable to Renew a License From Another State

About half of my Driver's License Restoration Clients reside out-of-state. These people can be divided into 2 categories:

  1. Those who left Michigan with a Revoked License due to multiple DUI's, and who have been unable to obtain a License outside of Michigan, and
  2. Those who were able to obtain an out-of-state License but are then unable to renew it due to a subsequently discovered Michigan "hold" on their Driving Record.
MI Seal2.jpgThe majority of people fall into the first category: those who are unable, right out the gate, to obtain an out-of-state License. This article will focus on that smaller group in the second category: those who were first able to obtain, but were thereafter unable to renew, an out-of-state License.

When someone who has left Michigan, and thereafter obtained a License in a different state contacts me, they often express a sense of frustration, as if there has been some mistake. After all, they had a License in their new state, and they haven't had any Arrests or problems. How can this be? Is there some mistake? Isn't' there something that can quickly be done so that they can renew?

Usually, the source of their difficulty is what's called the National Driving Register. While the details and nuances of it's operation are rather involved, and go beyond the scope of this article, what matters is that it exists, and means a person who has obtained a License in another state, and who has had their driving privileges Revoked in Michigan, will, at some point, be unable to renew that License until they clear Michigan's "hold" on their driving Record. This is like a big, comprehensive national driving Record. To be clear, most people will simply be unable to obtain a License in another state because Michigan's Revocation (seen by that other state as a "hold") will show up right away. Yet in any number of cases, it does not, for some reason, and only catches up with the person later, when they go to renew their out-of-state License.

In terms of how it works, the inability to renew an out-of-state License requires the same "Clearance" that must be obtained before the usual, Revoked because-of-multiple-DUI's driver can obtain a License anywhere. Except for the fact that an out-of-state resident will seek the ability to obtain a License in a state other than Michigan, whereas a Michigan resident will seek Restoration of his or her Michigan Driver's License, the proof required to win such an Appeal is identical.

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December 23, 2011

Welcome Back.... Now get to Work!

In my last blog post, I took a detour and wrote about my recent medical experience. Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, my Office remains up and running, and I am essentially "back in the saddle" again.

Normally, I take the last 2 weeks of the year off, anyway. This really amounts to little more than me thinking I'm on some kind of vacation while I work from home. I take and return calls as needed, reschedule Court dates until after vacation...

Get to Work2.jpgSome things never change...

I will be returning to the Office, right after the New Year, as I had planned before I got sidelined almost 2 weeks ago. I never imagined how much I could miss being busy with work, but I really do.

I have noted in a recent, previous article how I truly enjoy handling License Restoration cases. It also seems that an important part of my self-identity has also become the guy who shows up in Court on DUI and other matters and makes things better. I once heard it said that a major part of a person's identity is what they do for a living. Whether it was my Dad (when he was "Joe the Mailman") or my Uncle Tom, the Truck Driver, or my Mom, the Secretary, or even Lisa the Therapist, or Tim the Carpenter, society first identifies us by what we do. And whatever you do, when you are on hold from doing it, you feel, in a way, like your own self-identity is also in a state of suspended animation.

So beyond keeping things up and running, there is a tremendous emotional and psychological boost to getting back in the saddle; you feel like your old self again.

My Office is currently setting early to mid-January appointments in Driver's License Restoration cases (I've been booked into the first week of January since about mid-December), and making appointments as needed for any other Criminal matters. I still want to squeak some kind of vacation out of this last week and a half...

Accordingly, if you have a problem and are looking to hire a Lawyer, I'm here, as always. You can either contact my Office, or drop me an email in the contact box on the right side of this page.

Oh, and before I forget....

Happy Holidays!

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December 19, 2011

The Real Meaning of Life

This article will be a major deviation from anything else on my blog. On Thursday, December 8, 2011 (yes, I do publish ahead), my heart was stopped during major, emergency open- heart surgery, occasioned by a torn aorta (technically called a "dissected aorta"), most likely the result of very heavy duty weightlifting, my favorite sport and hobby, or at least formerly so. My body was taken down to about 35 to 40 degrees; all my blood was removed and stored separately while a cold saline solution was circulated through my system to keep it at that near-freezing temperature. During those several hours, all brain activity had ceased as the surgeons worked on my heart. I was, quite literally, dead, for a time. Rushed to the Hospital and facing imminent death, I had no alternative but to undergo to this procedure. The scariest part of the whole deal was that there was about a 10% chance that I would be unable to be revived. In other words, I would simply remain dead. While the odds for my survival were, statistically speaking, favorable, I was wheeled into pre-op knowing that I might never again see anyone whom I loved. I might never see my 14-year old daughter again. I might never see my wife again, either. 10% seems like a pretty high number when it applies to your life.

I was terrified.

2nd Chance.jpgI cried, and I begged God to let me come back. This article will not be a religious piece in any way, beyond my observing that I am convinced that my faith in God is, was, and will be important in my recovery. Others in my situation may have a very different belief system, or even no belief system to speak of, and our post surgical experiences would nevertheless be the same. This is not about how or why I came back, but rather about what to do with what can only be described as a true "second chance."

In all likelihood, this is not the article the reader came here for. Please read this one, anyway. The License Restoration and DUI stuff can be found in the "Topics" Section on the right. It's not going anywhere.

Imagine, for a moment, those people whose death would affect the most profound loss in your life.

Next, imagine that you were called and told by a distant hospital to expect the death of one of them imminently. Too soon, in fact, for you get anywhere close enough to see them and say goodbye. You are, instead, informed that you will be called shortly, once they have passed. You are told to stand by the phone.

In due course your phone rings, and you pick up to hear the dreaded news...

Continue reading "The Real Meaning of Life" »

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December 16, 2011

DUI Legal Fees in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties

"How much do you charge for a DUI?" This is a question that I'm asked almost daily. In truth, I find it somewhat funny, because I list my Fees on my site and my blog under the section at the top marked "Fees." Look up at the top of this page. See it? It's there.

This article will examine Fees in a DUI case, and why some are so low, while others are so high, and what a person can expect to get for their money.

get-money3.jpgFor what it's worth, I only handle charges brought in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties, and I charge the following for DUI cases:

1st Offense: $3600. I begin with ½ ($1800) down, and the other ½ ($1800) must be paid prior to the conclusion of the case.

2nd Offense: $4800. I begin with ½ ($2400) down, and the other ½ ($2400) must be paid prior to the conclusion of the case.

3rd (Felony) Offense: Starting at $6800. I begin with half (½) down, and the other half (½ ) must be paid prior to the conclusion of the case.

No one wants to pay too much, or anymore than they have to, for anything. It's no different for Legal Fees. My Fees are more than what some Lawyers charge, and less than others. Yet there are still really two competing bookends to this scenario. Many people are absolute "bargain hunters," intent on finding the lowest price on anything, regardless of quality, while others cannot help thinking that the more you pay for something, the better it must be. Most often, however, the very best "deal" lies in the middle.

I have repeated this theme throughout many of my blog articles: Looking for a Lawyer on a "low-bidder" basis is about the worst way to find quality representation. There is simply no way to not cut corners when offering a discount price. We'll come back to this later.

Continue reading "DUI Legal Fees in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties" »

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December 12, 2011

The Driver's License Appeal Process in Michigan - Getting Back on the Road - Part 7

In part 6 of this series, we discussed what happens at the actual Drivers' License Appeal Hearing. In this seventh and final installment of our overview of the Driver's License Restoration Process, we'll wrap up with some final observations about what happens after the Hearing. We'll examine how an Appeal is either Granted or Denied, we'll talk about the mandatory ignition interlock system that Michigan residents must install in whatever car they'll be driving for at least a year, and what the term "Restricted" means as far as a License goes, how out-of-state Clients essentially win an "Full" License, and then we'll finish with some commonly asked questions about the License Appeal Process.

Let's rewind a bit. Let's go back to the Hearing Room for a moment. The Hearing has just ended. The Hearing Officer calls the case "off" the Record, announcing the time it ends, and then hits the "stop" button on the Recorder. At that point, goodbyes are said, and we leave the Hearing Room and head toward the waiting room of the DAAD Hearing Office.

KeysCircle1.jpgAfter the Hearing has ended, I usually go over it with my Client, and do a sort of "post-game wrap up." Normally, this involves me explaining to the Client how and why I think we won.

That's it. The process, or at least our active part in it, is complete at that point. No decision is announced at the conclusion of the Hearing. Instead, we go home and wait.

I'm often asked about that. Standard protocol is for the Hearing Officer to tell the parties that he or she will take the Appeal under advisement, and, once a decision is reached, will thereafter forward a written copy of that decision to everyone. One of the main reasons the Hearing Officers do not announce a decision on the spot is for safety. Except for those that I handle, many, if not most Appeals, lose.

In my Practice, I win nearly 99% of mine the first time, and, as I have mentioned before, I offer a guarantee that I'll win any Appeal I accept the first time, and will go back, without further legal Fees, until I do win my Client's License back. Thankfully, I've never had to go back a 3rd time, and out of the hundreds and hundreds of cases I've handled, have only had to go back a second time on just a few occasions.

If the Hearing Officer were to announce to someone that they have just lost, it's not hard to imagine someone "going off" on them, blaming them for holding the person back with respect to their employment opportunities, or their ability to otherwise lead a normal life. BY the same token if the Hearing Officers began announcing winning decisions on the spot, while those people would be grateful, others might learn that NOT being told they've won means they lost, and that could result in the same kind of confrontation.

Continue reading "The Driver's License Appeal Process in Michigan - Getting Back on the Road - Part 7" »

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December 9, 2011

The Driver's License Restoration Appeal Process in Michigan - Getting Back on the Road - Part 6

In Part 5 of this series, we discussed preparing for a License Appeal Hearing. In this sixth part, we'll move on to examine the actual Hearing, but we'll tie in a few points about the "prep" session that, in the last section, I noted would be better explained here.

The big day is drawing near. For those who've been through the process before, it's no less intimidating, because their prior attempt didn't work out too well, and thus, they're going back to try again. To the person waiting to go in for a License Appeal Hearing, it seems like everything comes down to this. It feels like it's all on the line...

hanger2.jpgWhile it may feel that way, the truth is that the Hearing, while important, is NOT the entirety of a License Appeal. It doesn't actually "come down to this." Instead, I try and help my Clients understand that the License Appeal Hearing is just the final step, and one of several such steps, before a decision is made. In this 6th part, we will examine the actual License Hearing, and what a person can expect to encounter, and why, at least if I am their Lawyer, this is really nothing to be nervous about.

As a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer who has handled hundreds upon hundreds of License Appeal Hearings, and who has appeared in Court, quite literally, almost daily for the last 2 decades, I have to remind myself that while this is really "just another day at the Office" for me, it is a big deal for my Client. The best analogy that comes to mind is getting a root canal. For me, facing such a procedure is a bit intimidating. Will the tooth survive, or will it break apart, necessitating oral surgery and an implant? All kinds of questions whirl about in my head as that kind of "big day" approaches for me.

Yet for my Dentist, this is, in every sense of the word, "just another day at the Office." He's not worried, because he has a pretty good handle on what will happen, or at least the range of realistic possible outcomes. He'll assure me that everything will be fine, and then he'll begin talking about things like movies, sports, or whatever you might discuss with a co-worker or friend with whom you're sharing lunch.

Take me out of the Patient chair, put me in the same situation with my Client, and I'll do the same thing. I know that we're okay, but not just because I say so. Remember all that stuff back in parts 4 and 5 of this series, where we talked about how the Substance Abuse Evaluation is the foundation of a License Appeal, and that we need to make sure that it's perfect, or darn close to it, and then we examined how much time I'll put into helping with the Letters of Support? Well, if we've done all that, then by the time we file for the Hearing, we're already in EXCELLENT SHAPE. The actual Hearing is very important,of course, but much of the path toward winning (or losing) a License Appeal will have been cleared by virtue of the good evidence submitted beforehand.

Continue reading "The Driver's License Restoration Appeal Process in Michigan - Getting Back on the Road - Part 6" »

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December 5, 2011

The Driver's License Restoration Appeal Process in Michigan - Getting Back on the Road - Part 5

In Part 4 of this series, we concluded our overview of the documents that must be submitted when a License Appeal is filed. In this fifth part, we'll examine what happens when a Hearing is requested, and how one should prepare for the big day.

Once the Substance Abuse Evaluation and the Letters of Support have been checked, and re-checked, and everything is in order, the whole packet is sent to the Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) in Lansing. In my Office, this is done by fax.

Car-Keysplease1.jpgOut-of-state people can request either what's called an "Administrative Review," meaning essentially an "Appeal by Mail," or they can (and should) request an actual live, as in "conducted by a Hearing Officer" Hearing. Like those who live in Michigan, the Hearing can (and again, should be) live, and in-person, or it can be done at any Secretary of State Branch Office that has a video terminal.

Those who live in-state MUST go through a live Hearing, but it can either be done by video, or it can be done in-person, by requesting that it be scheduled at one of the 3 DAAD Offices (Grand Rapids, Lansing and Livonia) where the Hearing Officers are physically stationed. In my Practice, I have EVERY case I handle set for a live, in-person Hearing at the Livonia Branch of the DAAD. There are 5 Hearing Officers there, and I am in front of each of them regularly.

This, to me, is very important, and likely accounts, at least in part, for the success I have in winning License Appeals, and allows me to guarantee that I will win any Appeal I accept the first time, or I will go back, without additional Fee, until I do. We'll get to that.

I have noted before that I DO NOT believe in, nor will I ever even consider doing a video Hearing. Beyond the fact that the video equipment used by the State is older than dirt (the "video terminal" is an old, tube-style TV set with a big, antiquated and clumsy "web cam" hooked up to it), the simple fact is that appearing in person has numerous benefits, some of which are just beyond description.

Before we review some of those benefits, let me point out again that, recently, the Secretary of State opened a video terminal about 4 minutes from my Office. The Livonia Branch of the DAAD is about an hour from my Office, yet it has never crossed my mind to save the time and just do the Hearing by video at the much closer and more convenient location. I am such a firm believer in conducting these Hearings in-person that saving an additional hour on the road to personally appear isn't even a consideration. I take these cases to win, and, as I have repeatedly observed, if you're going to do this right, there simply are no shortcuts.

Continue reading "The Driver's License Restoration Appeal Process in Michigan - Getting Back on the Road - Part 5" »

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December 2, 2011

The Driver's License Restoration Appeal Process in Michigan - Getting Back on the Road - Part 4

In Part 3 of this series, we examined the importance of the role of the Substance Abuse Evaluation. In this fourth part, we'll look at the other part of the required documentation that must be submitted with the Substance Abuse Evaluation when a License Appeal is filed, the Letters of Support.

The DAAD requires at least 3 Letters of Support, and asks for a maximum of 6. While submitting at least 3 Letters is the procedural minimum, a person can submit more than 6, although that's not necessary. We'll examine that shortly.

KeyFob copy2.jpgIn a very real way, the Substance Abuse Evaluation is the most important evidence submitted because it primarily addresses the most important issue before the DAAD: That the person's alcohol problem is likely to remain under control.

The other main issue before the DAAD in a License Appeal is that the person's alcohol problem is under control, which basically means that they haven't consumed any alcohol since "X" date. The primary evidence in that regard are the required Letters of Support. This means that the most important purpose of the letters of support is to confirm that the person has not consumed any alcohol since "X" date.

This can sometimes present the first challenge. Not all Letter writers will have known the person when they were drinking. Say Don the Driver quit drinking after his 2005 DUI, and one of his Letters is from Co-Worker Carl, who he has known since he began working at ABC Corporation back in 2009. Carl cannot vouch for Don not drinking in 2006, 2007, or even 2008. All Carl can say is that since he met Don in 2009, Don has not consumed alcohol in his presence.

And that's fine, at least to a point.

If Don was my Client, I'd use Carl's Letter, but I'd also want a Letter, or Letters, from those who knew Don at the time he stopped drinking.

This is where experience matters. What if Don moved out of state in 2008? Sure, his family can vouch for his turnaround then, but they've only seen him a few times a year since his move. As much as Carl cannot attest to what Don did back in 2007 and 2008, the family really cannot vouch much for anything after that, except on those few occasions where they've actually seen Don.

Continue reading "The Driver's License Restoration Appeal Process in Michigan - Getting Back on the Road - Part 4" »

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