"Do-It-Yourself" Michigan Driver's License Restoration and Clearance Appeals

September 17, 2012

What does it take to win a Michigan Driver's License Restoration case without a Lawyer? Luck. As a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer who concentrates in reinstatement and clearances of Licenses that have been Revoked for multiple DUI's, I see certain patterns. By far, the most common thing I see is inquiries from people who try to win back their License without a Lawyer, lose, and then start looking for a Lawyer to appeal their loss.

I recently published an article about the Differences between a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal, and an appeal from a losing decision. The terms can be confusing, but the way this plays out in the real world is pretty clear. Lots of people think they can do their own License Appeal, so they give it a try. They assemble their documents, and, if they live out of state, send in for an Administrative Review, or, if they live in Michigan, show up for a Hearing. A few weeks later, they get the news that they have been denied.

DIY 1.4.jpgBeyond the fact that, almost every day, my Office get a call from someone who has just learned that they have lost their "do-it-yourself" License Appeal, it seems that more than half of the new Clients I meet are people who have previously tried this route and lost. To be brutally honest about it, these Clients are actually easier to deal with than someone who has never been "through the system." They fundamentally understand how difficult the process can be, and they certainly realize that winning a Michigan Driver's License Restoration or Clearance case involves navigating a million little rules.

Those who call my Office, frustrated about losing their "do-it-yourself" Appeals are in for more disappointment when they find out that they'll have to wait a year to try again. Of course, they immediately begin to point out to me that there are certain "appeal" rights (as if I didn't already know that), but I explain that any such "appeal" is based upon the evidence they assembled and submitted in the case they lost, and that there was a obviously a problem with it (that's why it was denied), and that I have no interest in trying to resurrect and save their do-it-yourself Appeal that, by all accounts was already doomed before it began, anyway. They come to understand. They may not be happy, but they accept the truth of what they're told. It certainly helps when I explain that I don't make any money turning someone away.

Because so many of my new Clients come to me with a "do-it-yourself" loss under their belts, my custom intake form that I fill out during our first 3-hour meeting has a special section about prior Denials. I need to know how many times a person has tried this before. I also will want to see the Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) Order of Action denying their prior cases. I want to see what damage I have to fix, and make sure that I can account for what has been stated in any prior Substance Abuse Evaluations and in prior Letters of Support. Let's face it, no one loses an Appeal because they get everything right.

Despite the fact that most "do-it-yourself" License Appeals are destined to lose, I tread carefully, and really do not explicitly advise against them. That smacks of trying to "scare" someone into hiring my services. Sure, if your circuit breaker or fuse box is smoking and sparking, you should heed the warnings of any electrician who advises, "call now!" But losing a License Appeal is not the same thing as dying in a house fire. The worst thing that happens is that a person is stuck bumming rides for another year. Thus, to anyone who wants to try this on their own, I say "Go for it!"

In fact, given that I have more than enough work to keep me busy, I am fortunate that I really don't have to deal with people who call me up and want to debate, or are otherwise genuinely curious as to whether they really should hire a License Restoration Lawyer to try a License Appeal, or if this is just all a bunch of hot air designed to discourage someone into not trying it on their own. These are fair and honest questions. Rather than waste my time with someone who inclined to try their own hand at a License Appeal, I just tell them that, if it doesn't work out, feel free to call me next year. From my experience, it really is better to get them next year, anyway, when they have a "better" attitude.

Nothing I say, however, can change the facts. Facts are facts. In the year 2010, for example, of the 875 Administrative Review Petitions filed with the Secretary of State seeking a "Clearance" for a Michigan "hold" upon a person's Driving Record due to multiple DUI's, 650 were DENIED. That means that 74% (3 out of 4) LOST! The statistics for first time wins for in-state residents isn't very rosy, either. In fact, it's more likely than not that anyone reading this has already tried before, and is looking to do better next time.

To anyone who has not tried a License Appeal before, either on their own, or with some Lawyer who claims to "do" License Appeals, I can point out that at least I offer a first time win Guarantee, which means that no matter what, you'll only pay me one time, and then get back on the road.

Success in a Michigan License case (and you see this variously referred to as a Michigan Driver's License Restoration, Michigan Driver's License Reinstatement, and a Michigan Driver's License Clearance case, amongst other things) requires careful navigation around the "million little rules" governing License Appeals, but it also requires more. The "meat and potatoes" of a Michigan Driver's License Appeal really centers on a person's Sobriety. This is why I call Sobriety a "necessary requirement" to begin a License Appeal.

A person who is not Sober is never going to win. The whole state (DAAD) process is designed to sort out who is Sober, and who is not. I wouldn't take a case for anyone who is still drinking, or who thinks they can drink. Beyond being "found out" by the DAAD, and having their Appeal denied, a person who is not really Sober cannot come close to mustering those characteristic attributes of Sobriety that are rather obvious in someone who is. This has to be worked into the case.

As a Lawyer, I differentiate myself from the pack of others by providing a Guarantee, and requiring actual Sobriety. I don't have my hand out, willing to take anyone's money just to do a License Appeal, whatever the results. Instead, I screen for people who can actually win, and only take their money when I know that's the case, and then back that up with a Guarantee.

Anyone wanting to try a License Appeal without a Lawyer should give at least a little consideration to all of this. This risk of losing doesn't spell the end of the world, nor does it foreclose winning later, down the road. The real risk of losing a "do-it-yourself" License Appeal is that a person will spend another year dependent upon others to get around. That needs to be weighed against the Guarantee of winning the License back the first time around.