As a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer who has published over 120 articles on just about every imaginable aspect of the License Appeal process, I have certainly done my part to emphasize that Sobriety is a first and necessary requirement in order to win Reinstatement of a Michigan Driver's License, or the Clearance of a Michigan "Hold" on someone's Driving Record for those whose License has been Revoked for multiple DUI's.
However, while Sobriety is a "first requirement" in a License Appeal case, it is, by itself, far from enough to win. There is much more to it than that.
Within the body of the Driver's License Restoration section of this blog, I have covered the steps in a License Restoration case. Many of those articles involve multiple installments. This article will be far more summary in nature, and will address the misconception that all you need to win a License Appeal is to prove Sobriety.
In fact, a fairly common question I'm asked is "how do you prove Sobriety?" That very question demonstrates that the way one wins a License Appeal is far from obvious, and certainly not as simple as losing the privilege to drive in the first place.
Being Sober is a first requirement in a License Appeal in the same way that having a racket is a first requirement to play tennis. Having a racket doesn't mean you know anything about playing the game, other than you have to hit the ball. As it turns out, I don't know the first thing about tennis, never took lessons, and could not play the game for the life of me. I do have a racket, though, which I used to paddle the ball back and forth off of a brick wall when I was younger. I am about as ready to play tennis with a good, veteran player as someone who is "Sober" is ready to undertake a Driver's License Reinstatement case before a Hearing Officer who knows the many rules and requirements of these Appeals like the back of his or her hand.
In order to Restore a Michigan Driver's License, or to win a "Clearance," a person must be able to make all the proofs necessary under DAAD Rule 13, which is the Law that controls and governs these Appeals. Reduced to its most basic elements, Rule 13 requires that a Hearing Officer Deny a License Appeal unless the person seeking Restoration proves, by what's called "Clear and Convincing Evidence," two main things:
1. That their alcohol problem is under control, and,Proving the second issue is the more difficult task, as it essentially requires the Hearing Officer to be convinced that a person is a safe bet to never drink again.
2. That their alcohol problem is likely to remain under control.
Most people who are serious about wanting to get back on the road simply accept that their far better off having expert help. They know that if you lose a License Appeal, you can't come back and try again for a year. They want to do it right, and win their License back the first time they try. Many of those who become my Clients are persuaded as much by my first-time win Guarantee as my experience or knowledge in this field. That's okay; it works for me, too.
Then there are those who are just dead-set on trying it on their own. It might surprise the reader to learn that I never try and persuade such people from representing themselves. Given that, in 2010, for example, 75% of all Administrative License Appeals were Denied by the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD), I simply say "go for it - and then call me next year."
The only problem with trying to "do it right" next year, after they lose the first time, is that the errors caused in the first "do-it-yourself" Appeal have to be fixed the following year. And there will be errors in such cases. A person loses a Michigan Driver's License Restoration case because of errors; because thing were done improperly.
There are a lot of things to do in a License Appeal. Without elaboration, here are the general steps involved in a Michigan Drivers' License Restoration Appeal:
- Determining eligibility for a License Restoration or Clearance
- Preparing (this takes 3 hours in my Office) for the Substance Abuse Evaluation
- Beginning work on the Letters of Support
- Undergoing the Substance Abuse Evaluation
- Editing and completing the Letters of Support
- Reviewing the completed Substance Abuse Evaluation for quality
- Finalizing the Letters of Support
- Filing the whole package with Lansing
- Determining the identity of the Hearing Officer deciding the case
- Preparing for the Hearing before THAT Hearing Officer, and finally
- Attending and managing the Hearing .
If anyone reading this doesn't see that as clearly as me, then perhaps it would be wise to ask if stumbling through this on your own is a good idea. As I noted, however, if someone is inclined to wing it, go right ahead...
Then, call me next year.
Unfortunately, many (perhaps too many) Lawyers figure they can just read Rule 13, figure everything out, and go ahead and plow through a License Restoration.
This frequently results in another "call me next year" situation.
Doing a License Appeal correctly involves lots of knowledge gained through experience. Some of that knowledge was acquired the hard way; learning from mistakes. After over 20 years of handling License Appeals, I think it's safe to say I've made all those "learning experience" mistakes years ago. I'm confident enough in experience, knowledge and skill to offer my first-time win Guarantee.
Yet the degree of experience to which I refer is not a product of simply having "done" some License Appeals. It comes from having concentrated in them. If the reader takes the time to look at this blog and my website, they'll see that License Restorations are the bread and butter of what I do as a Lawyer. It's the work in which I engage most of the day, every day. It's the kind of experience that comes from having handled about 120 License Restoration Appeals in 2011, and having maintained a first time win rate of over 98%.
The ability to win a License Appeal begins with Sobriety. If a person doesn't have that, then they have no chance of winning. Proving, by Clear and Convincing Evidence, that their alcohol problem is under control, and likely to remain under control cannot happen until they are Sober. However, there's a lot more to a License Restoration Appeal than just proving Sobriety. Even beginning to contemplate an answer to the rather frequently asked question, "how do you prove Sobriety" underscores the fact that there is much more to this than most people will ever know.