March 2012 Archives

March 30, 2012

You Must be Finished With Probation or Parole to Win a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Case

In my previous blog article, I addressed the myth that a person can never win a License Restoration Appeal the first time. I pointed out that I GUARANTEE that I'll win any Appeal I take the first time around. In this article, I want to continue with another installment of shorter length (this from a guy whose average piece runs about 4 pages) and clarify that, almost without exception, a person cannot win a License Appeal if they are still on Probation, and absolutely will lose any such case if they are on Parole.

On several recent occasions, my Office has received calls from people who have outright disagreed with this, and said "another Lawyer told me that didn't matter." Because I have more than enough License Appeal cases to keep me busy, I have no desire to argue with these callers. I feel obligated to inform them, however, that the Case Law is clear on that point. I also remind them that I offer a "Win" Guarantee, and challenge them to get one from whoever gave them the incorrect advice about being able to win a License Restoration Appeal while still on Probation, or Parole.

Probation Badge 1.2.jpgAs I noted, I have enough License cases booked into the future to keep me busy. Yet I am, after all, in business to make money. I have no reason to send a person and their money to another Law Office to pay for the services I provide. But I will not accept someone's money for something I know to be legally impossible.

And winning back your License while on Probation, except in extraordinarily limited circumstances, is not Legally possible. Parolees will have to wait until after their Parole has ended.

I have read the opinions of the few other Lawyers on this topic, and at least those who have taken the time to write about it clearly understand that being on Probation or Parole precludes winning a License Appeal.

And while I agree that the Michigan Court of Appeals decision (linked above) that upheld this ruling by the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) is unfair, the Law is now clear, and unfair or not, it is what it is.

And it is what it is because several years ago, a Hearing Officer with the DAAD, the bureau that decides License Restoration Appeals, ruled that if a person is on Probation, or Parole, they cannot prove that any period of abstinence from alcohol is truly voluntary, because a standard condition of Probation or Parole that they not consume alcohol, very often back up with either regular, or at least random testing. The DAAD determined that such a person is "living in a controlled environment."

Continue reading "You Must be Finished With Probation or Parole to Win a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Case" »

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March 26, 2012

WInning a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal the First TIme, Every TIme

As a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, a significant part of my job is explaining the License Restoration process to Clients and callers alike. In that regard, I often have to address misconceptions and myths about License Appeals. In this article, I will examine and hopefully dispel the longstanding myth that "you cannot win your License back the first time." To begin, I should point out that not only is that notion dead wrong, but that I make most of my income winning License Restoration Appeals the first time, and I back that up with a Guarantee.

Curiously, I am most often confronted with this misconception by the most unlikely of sources; People who are involved in AA. This is really ironic because, of all the people for whom I could rather easily win a License Appeal the first time, those who are really and truly Sober, and actually sit at the tables, are at front of the class. In fact, the inspiration for this article was a recent meeting with a new Client who had been referred to me and wasn't even aware of this blog. Let's examine her story a bit...

PRIZE_EVERY_TIME4.3.jpgThis Client was given a very enthusiastic referral to my Office by someone for whom, I had, as usual, won a License Appeal the first time. She had already seen a few other Lawyers, and figured that I'd just be another of the bunch. Before beginning her quest to get back on the road, she had repeatedly heard from her fellow AA members that everyone gets Denied on a License Appeal their first time around, and that she should just assume she'll have to go back a second time to win.

She said her whole reason for coming to see me was the unqualified and glowing referral to me that she had been provided. While I was flattered, the fact that she had not read any of my Driver's License Restoration articles meant that she had no real insight about the process. Even though she had met with some other Lawyers, the plain fact of the matter is that I have no doubt written more about License Restorations than all these other Lawyers have ever written about everything in their combined careers. Beyond that, I'm quite confident that I have won more License Restoration cases in the last few years than all these Lawyers, combined, have ever handled in their careers. Despite having sat with a few Lawyers who told her that they "did" License Restorations, I was rather sure she had been told nothing useful or worthwhile about what was involved. And as if on cue, at the end of our 3-hour meeting, she told me that, in fact, no one had gone into anything even close to the detail I had.

She was, understandably, a bit skeptical when I told her that I'd win her Appeal the first time around. In fact, she said that she had come prepared to hire me, but also to request that I do the absolute minimum so that we could just get what she expected to be her first and inevitable loss out of the way, thus paving the way for next year's Appeal.

Continue reading "WInning a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal the First TIme, Every TIme" »

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March 23, 2012

Why Everyone Should Avoid Using a Relative or Family Friend as a Lawyer for a Michigan DUI, Criminal, or Driver's License Restoration Case

Of all the complaints, excuses, and other remarks of regret that I hear within my Law Practice, the reader probably has no idea how many come from Clients who previously had a Lawyer, who is also a relative or family friend, handle a Criminal, DUI, or Driver's License Restoration case. This is always within the context of the person explaining an outcome that was disappointing. This is usually followed by an explanation that the Lawyer relative or family friend wasn't "really" a Criminal Attorney or DUI Lawyer, or otherwise said they could "do" a License Appeal.

And if that's not enough, way too many of these people either try to make themselves feel better by telling me they got a real "break" on the Fees, or they express further regret because they not only didn't get any kind of "break" on the Fees, but were instead "taken to the cleaners" by paying way too much for a Lawyer who didn't really know what he or she was doing.

Warning2.jpgI specialize in License Restoration, DUI and Criminal cases. I don't handle Murder or Rape cases, and there are loads of other types of cases that I will not accept. I only take on the kinds of cases that I know how to handle, and which I have handled before. The world would be a much better place if every Lawyer stuck to what they knew. I would never, for example, take on a Divorce case. And when I need Legal services, (in a Civil Lawsuit, for example), I hire a Lawyer who specializes in that field. I certainly have lots of "friends" who are Lawyers, but I know, firsthand, that in the Legal world, while you may not always "get what you pay for," you will NEVER get what you DON'T pay for.

The situation I am describing most often arises when I am speaking with a new Client and I inquire about what appears to be a questionable result in a prior Criminal case. All too often, these people somehow wind up talking to a family member or a friend (or a friend of a friend) who is a Lawyer and who offers to help. As I noted above, these situations often devolve into one of two things:

  1. The Lawyer (in this case, usually a relative), offers to help, and means well, and even handles the case for free, or at a very reduced Fee, or
  2. The Lawyer, (in this scenario, often either a family friend or a friend of a friend) after being contacted, agrees to accept the case.
In the first situation, it is just luck, pure and simple, if the person in need of a Lawyer for a DUI, Criminal or License Appeal case happens to be related to a Lawyer who specializes in this field. Instead, Uncle Phil or Cousin Lisa all-too-often turns out to be some kind of General Practitioner, or a Lawyer who handles Divorces, or some field other than DUI or Criminal matters.

Continue reading "Why Everyone Should Avoid Using a Relative or Family Friend as a Lawyer for a Michigan DUI, Criminal, or Driver's License Restoration Case" »

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March 19, 2012

Common Reasons why Many FIrst Time Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeals Lose

A significant, if not majority portion of my Driver's License Restoration Practice involves Representing people who have previously tried a License Appeal (without me as their Lawyer) and lost. These Clients necessarily fall into one of two categories:

  1. Those who hired some Lawyer who claimed they could "do" a License Appeal, and
  2. Those who figured they could do it on their own.
Try Again 2.gifIn some of my previous blog articles, I have explained that these people make the best, or "easiest" Clients a License Restoration Lawyer, like me, can have. They show up, eager to pay and ready to follow instructions. Whatever beliefs they may have had about the License Restoration process, and however much they previously thought that they knew enough to win, they have been humbled by the depth and scope of the process, and know that, in order to do it right, they need expert guidance. In this article, we'll shift focus to a few of the most common reasons for that kind of lost License Appeal.

From my point of view, beyond simply offering guidance, I offer a Guarantee that if I don't win any Appeal I undertake the first time, I will continue to represent my Client before the Secretary of State's DAAD (Driver Assessment and Appeal Division) until they get their License back. This means that although a person may have lost without me, I want to make sure, and will guarantee, that they'll win with me.

Despite the almost unlimited possible ways someone can lose a License Appeal, most that I see are for what is considered a "Questionable/Insufficient Substance Abuse Evaluation." As we shall see, however, this one simple category encompasses a rather wide panorama of problems.

I have also pointed out in some of my prior articles that way too few Substance Abuse Counselors actually know how to complete, or "do" a DAAD Substance Abuse Evaluation. This is not really the fault of those Evaluators, but that lack of blame is cold comfort for anyone whose efforts to get back on the road are rejected.

Continue reading "Common Reasons why Many FIrst Time Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeals Lose" »

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March 16, 2012

What kind of License you get when you win a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal

Handling Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeals is the basis of my Practice. In that regard, I have gone to great lengths (some might say "overboard") within this blog and on my website to provide as much insight and information about the various steps in the License Appeal Process as I can. Recently, I capped off a 7-part series about License Appeals. Yet as I look back, I found that I came up a bit short in explaining what happens after a person wins. I never explained what kind of License or relief a person gets when they win their case. Anyone who has explored the Driver's License Restoration section of this blog knows my articles are generally rather long; this one will be comparatively short.

In the spirit of trying to answer those questions that I am most frequently asked, this article will look at what kind or "type" of License a person will get after a successful License Appeal, and how that differs if a person still lives in Michigan, or has a Michigan "hold" on their Driving Record and now lives out-of-state.

pickprize1.1.jpgNot to begin this article by sounding cocky, or over-confident, but I have an across-the-board win rate of over 98% in my License Appeals, and this allows me to GUARANTEE that I will win any case I accept. If, for some reason, I do not, then I will continue to represent my Client in all subsequent DAAD Hearings without further Fee. Fortunately, I have rarely ever had to go back a second time, and have NEVER had to go back a third. Thus, when I accept a case, we speak of what will happen after we win, not if we win.

First, it is necessary to understand that the "kind" of License Appeal a person files dictates what kind of relief they can get. If a person lives in Michigan, then they file for Restoration of Driving privileges. If they no longer reside in Michigan, they file for what is called a "Clearance" of the Michigan hold on their driving Record. This will allow them to get a "full" License in their home state.

Thus, anyone who now lives outside of Michigan essentially wins a "full" License after a successful License Appeal.

Michigan residents seeking Restoration of their Driving privileges after a Revocation for multiple DUI convictions can only win a Restricted License, and must drive with an ignition interlock, a kind of ignition-breathalyzer unit, for at least the first year.

In terms of what is filed, whether a person lives in Michigan or not, the Appeal is identical. The same documentation must be filed, and the same proofs must be made. The Hearing is also identical.

I am asked all the time by my Michigan Clients, "is there some way around this?" Unfortunately there is not. The rules are set in stone. If you live and Michigan, and you win a Driver's License Restoration Appeal, you MUST drive with a Restricted License and an ignition interlock unit for at least the first year.

Continue reading "What kind of License you get when you win a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal" »

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March 12, 2012

Why Being a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer is so Specialized

Being a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer puts me in a specialty with only a handful, at most, of other Lawyers with a similar Practice concentration. It can, at times, be a bit lonely, in that I simply never find myself exchanging war stories with anyone who does as much of what I do for a living. Recently, I have developed a friendship with another Restoration Lawyer a number of Counties away, but aside from her, there's really no one else with whom I can compare notes.

That's not to say that I don't receive my fair share of inquiries from other Lawyers who find this blog, and my website, and contact me with a question or two. However, in those situations, our experience isn't nearly as lateral as it is vertical.

Special 1.2.jpgBut I'm not complaining. I get time enough for the normal Professional contact when I'm in the back room of some Courthouse, surrounded by Prosecutors and other Defense Lawyers as I handle a DUI, or some other Criminal case.

Yet this got me to thinking about why being a License Restoration Lawyer is so specialized, and wondering what, if anything, is so different about my membership in this ultra small group, beyond the extensive experience I have handling and winning License Appeals?

The answer, it seemed to me, is that I have a deep and detailed knowledge and understanding of the concepts of addiction, alcoholism, and the whole process of Recovery. This subject, at least for me, has been a field of study in which I have engaged for nearly 20 years.

When we look at those Attorneys who are Patent Lawyers, we find that the vast majority of them have engineering, or similar backgrounds. There probably isn't a Patent Lawyer out there, or certainly not many, who earned their College Degree in English, or Sociology. They have to know the mechanical workings of the things they are trying to Patent, and an engineering, or similar background (like chemistry for someone Patenting drugs) is more or less a basic, foundational requirement to work in that field. In a very real way, they have to understand how the Law applies to a whole other discipline.

For the same reason, Tax Lawyers have backgrounds in Taxation.

At the heart of any License Appeal lie the issues of alcoholism (and/or addiction) and Recovery. It is one thing to understand that those issues are present, and quite another to understand them in depth. In other words, just like Patent Law, being a good License Restoration Lawyer means applying the Law to a whole other discipline.

Continue reading "Why Being a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer is so Specialized" »

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March 9, 2012

How to Beat a Detroit-Area (Michigan) DUI and Cure Cancer at the Same Time

This article will admittedly be a bit sarcastic. As part of my DUI Practice, I'm in Court almost every day in Macomb, Oakland and/or Wayne County. I sit shoulder to shoulder with many conscientious Lawyers fighting hard to reduce the consequences of a lapse in judgment that results in a person being Arrested for Drunk Driving. We compare notes and exchange information. No one laughs these cases off and talks of having it dismissed like some speeding Ticket where the cop doesn't show.

No one, at least, except those trying to sell that very idea. And those operations are making a lot of money at it.

snakeoil1.2.jpgTime and time again, I meet with a new Client, often for a 2nd Offense DUI, who is a bit concerned and reticent about the whole DUI Lawyer thing because, they admit, they spent $5000, or $10,000, or even more on the Lawyer who handled their 1st Offense DUI and sold them the "we'll beat this thing..." bill of goods.

Am I a bit jealous of the huge income these slicksters make in this racket? Absolutely. Would I ever do such a thing just to make money? Absolutely NOT.

The truth is, I think I'm as good a writer, if not significantly better, than anyone behind those operations. If I wanted to, I could devote my efforts to crafting the most convincing-sounding blogs and web pages around, and stand back and cash in by selling the notion that if you really try, you can beat almost any DUI. But I won't do that, because it's wrong.

Which is not to say that beating a DUI is impossible. Far from it. I knock out a DUI anytime I have a case where it can be done. It's just that, statistically speaking, it's unlikely, at least in most cases.

To prove my point, I "googled" the phrase "cure cancer." Sure enough, there are plenty of smooth operators out there with all kinds of products you can buy for just that purpose. From vitamin cocktails to holistic lifestyle overhauls, if you're willing to spend big money on a long-shot hope, there is someone out there willing to cash in.

The analogy doesn't end there. If you think about it for a moment, this means that all those hard-working Doctors treating cancer patients are either deliberately ignoring the vitamin-cocktail cure for cancer thing, or they're just plain stupid. Instead, the inquiring mind is asked to believe that it is this handful of snake-oil salesman who really have the answer, not the medical community at large.

Do you really believe that?

Unfortunately, enough people do to keep these vitamin-cocktail operations in business.

The same holds true in the field of DUI defense.

Continue reading "How to Beat a Detroit-Area (Michigan) DUI and Cure Cancer at the Same Time" »

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March 5, 2012

Michigan License Appeals and Restoration - Why Being Abstinent from alcohol is not Enough

In the previous Driver's License Restoration blog article, we reviewed how and why Sobriety is a first and necessary requirement in a License Restoration Appeal. Within the world of License Restorations, the terms "Sobriety" and "Abstinence" are used rather frequently. However, within the Rules governing License Appeals, the term "Sobriety" is not used; instead, the applicable Law refers only to "Abstinence."

Yet mere Abstinence is not enough to win a License Appeal. A person must not only be Abstinent, they must be Sober, as well.

boozey1.1.jpgThis article will examine how these two terms are related, and the important way in which they differ. It is rather likely that the reader who is really "Sober" already understands the difference quite well, and this piece will do little more than vainly demonstrate to them that I do, also. For the reader who is curious about the key difference between the terms "Abstinence" and "Sobriety," they will either find that they their Abstinence includes Sobriety, or they will find that they are coming up short on the most important component of a Driver's License Appeal.

As a Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, I must make sure any License candidate I Represent is both Abstinent, and Sober. When my Staff takes a License Appeal call, one of the very first questions they will ask is when the caller last consumed alcohol. While the answer to that question does not really address the issue of Sobriety, a person will need to have been alcohol-free, generally speaking, for a minimum of 1 year, and have been off of Probation or Parole for at LEAST 3 or 4 months in order to file a License Appeal.

Abstinence means just that: abstaining from the use of alcohol. Sobriety, on the other hand, necessarily involves being Abstinent, but also means that a person plans on remaining that way for life. As I explained in the preceding article, there is no room in the concept of "Sobriety" for having the occasional glass of wine, sip of champagne, or bottle of beer. When a person makes the decision to get "Sober," it means completely eliminating alcohol from their life. It means, as the AA people say, avoiding "wet faces and wet places." It means ditching the drinking associates (anyone who gets Sober soon realizes that these "drinking friends" weren't ever real friends, anyway), not going to places or events where the primary focus or purpose is drinking, and otherwise establishing and maintaining a "Sober Lifestyle."

As much as Sobriety involves the complete abstinence from alcohol (and any and all mind or mood-altering substances), it is also a state of mind. Sobriety, for the person in Recovery, brings a boatload of benefits.

Continue reading "Michigan License Appeals and Restoration - Why Being Abstinent from alcohol is not Enough" »

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March 3, 2012

Why Being Sober is a First and Necessary Requirement in a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal

Because I make most of my living as a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, certain topics within this field are professionally important to me. One subject that I need to keep near the top of the pile, for my own sanity, is how and why Sobriety is the very first requirement in undertaking a License Appeal. Hopefully, by doing this, I can ward off those callers to my Office who want to Restore their License even though they haven't yet quit drinking. As we shall see, the entire License Restoration process is about "Sobriety." That concept not only dominates the earliest stages of a License Appeal case, but is front and center right through the very last part of these cases, when and where, hopefully, the Michigan Secretary of State, under the eye of its Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) signs off on a person and lets them back on the road with no further obligation or oversight.

In past articles, I have been candid, although rather polite, about this subject. To avoid writing the same article yet again, I'm going to be a bit more direct about Sobriety as a first requirement in a License Appeal. Almost every day, my Office receives at least a call or two from someone who wants to get their Driver's License back, but is not Sober. One of the first questions my Staff or I will have of any caller is when they last consumed alcohol. Generally speaking, a person will need to have been alcohol-free for at least a year in order to begin a License Appeal, assuming they are otherwise eligible.

Stay Sober copy1.2.jpgYet having been alcohol-free for any period of time is not the same thing as being "Sober." Abstinence is a necessary part of Sobriety, but Sobriety is not necessarily a component of Abstinence. We'll examine this dichotomy further in the next article.

Sobriety is nothing that a person can just "b.s." about. In a License Appeal, the State needs to see proof that a person is a safe bet to NEVER drink again. If it was as simple as just filing a License Appeal and showing up to say "I'm better now; I quit drinking," then I'd be out of business and everyone would win their Driver's License Restoration case the first time around.

Instead, the State sets the bar very high; the Rule governing License Appeals (Specifically, Rule 13) requires that a person prove their case in a Driver's License Restoration by what is called "clear and convincing evidence." The previous link will take the reader to a rather detailed discussion about exactly what that means. It is adequate, for the purposes of this article, to simply observe that "clear and convincing evidence" means proving the case by a landslide. It means winning big, and is rather the opposite of just "squeaking by."

Behind all of this lurks an ugly reality: most people with alcohol or substance abuse problems do not get over them. They never get better. Those who attend AA, for example, can lose sight of this as they step into meeting rooms with 7, or 17, or even 70 people, all talking about Recovery. If they were to trade places with a bartender for a while, however, they'd see the other side of the coin. While exact statistics are not available, it is far from an even split. Most people who develop an alcohol problem never beat it. It is only a minority of individuals who are able to successfully and permanently conquer a drinking problem.

The State, meaning specifically the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD), the body that decides License Appeal cases, knows this. Everyone knows this, if they stop for a moment and actually think about it. Examples surround us; high-school acquaintances that drank excessively as teenagers are seldom found years later as Sober and successful. Those familiar "old drunks" we knew in our younger years didn't live to get very old; they just died off. Beyond the rather elite and small club of individuals who are actually Sober and in Recovery, an alcohol or substance abuse problem is a life-limiting, life-long and life-shortening disease.

Continue reading "Why Being Sober is a First and Necessary Requirement in a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal" »

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