Recovery and Sobriety as the Focus of a Michigan Driver's License Restoration or Clearance case

October 8, 2012

In a Michigan Driver's License Restoration or Clearance case, a person's "Recovery Story" takes front and center stage. In fact, the whole License Appeal process before the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division is really a close-up and critical examination of that story. If you intend to file an Appeal with the Michigan Secretary of State to win your License back, or to win a Clearance of the Hold placed against your Driving Record, you are going to need to be able to tell your Recovery Story. That's what I'm here for.

Perhaps you tell your story again and again at the tables of AA, or maybe you used to go, but not anymore. If so, then you've probably had some experience talking about your transformation from drinker to non-drinker. If you've never been to AA, then you probably haven't ever had to talk much about that part of your life. Whether you talk about it regularly, or never really give it much thought, the change you underwent when you decided to quit drinking is a story, and a pretty dramatic one, at that.

MyStory 1.2.jpgIt is not uncommon for someone to have quit drinking, and then changed the way they live, eliminate alcohol from their lives and simply move on. For these people, living without alcohol has truly become second nature. And while that's great, and part of what the state is looking for in the context of a License Clearance or Restoration case, it's really only part of the story. In the previous article about not over-complicating a Michigan License Appeal, I focused on Sobriety, and how that is a central part of a person's "Recovery story." This article will be about that story.

My task, as a Michigan License Restoration Lawyer is to help you put the words the story of your transition from drinker to Sober person. If you've clicked around this blog, or my website, you've seen that I have no trouble with words. Beyond finding the right words for your story, however, my job also requires helping you go back in time to recall and properly describe who you used to be, and what your life was like right up to the point of your last drink. While that sounds easy enough, we have to get all that done in a space about 1/5 the size of this article. In a winning License Appeal, every single word either helps, or hurts you; there is no middle ground. Anyone who has tried a License Appeal before knows this all too well.

To do this, I have to get to know you and your life's story in a comparatively short period of time. I'll have to cut to the heart of certain matters, in mere minutes, that therapists may take years probing. Of course, it helps that you've at least worked through these things. All the same, it's like I'm taking a core sample, drilling through layers (and often years) of gratitude and Recovery all the way through denial and consequence and shame. This isn't just your typical "Lawyer stuff," either. It requires me to be part Biographer, part Counselor, part Lawyer and part Writer.

In many of my other Driver's License Restoration articles, I note that I have made a decades-long study of alcohol and addiction issues. I have constantly read and updated my understanding of the process of alcoholism, and Recovery. Ive even gone back to graduate school and earn a Graduate Certificate in Addiction Studies. While this program is limited to those who already have a graduate degree in a related field (it was humbling to realize that, here, my Law Degree didn't mean so much) and who primarily treat patients with alcohol and addiction disorders, I felt that the perspective and skills those professionals have will help me as I help re-trace each Client's path to Recovery. I'm sure the reader finds this a bit "different" from what most other Lawyers write as they explain how they do License Restorations, but at least I hope that my passion for this chosen Practice specialty stands out. It is this passion and drive to do everything the best it can be done that allows me to Guarantee that I'll win your case.

All this stuff about a person's "Recovery Story," however, only makes sense if a person has had a true Recovery in the first place. In other words, I could never take a case and begin to sketch out the story of a person's Recovery if they hadn't actually quit drinking. This is critical. Sobriety, in that sense, is a necessary requirement to win (and for me to file) a License Clearance or Restoration case.

When you come in, we'll sit down and talk about the days leading up to your last drink. We'll explore the degree to which you knew, or at least began to entertain the idea that your drinking was a problem, and how and why you continued to drink, despite that. Then we'll focus on that all-important, pivotal "a-ha" moment. Some AA people say this is when they got "sick and tired of being sick and tired." Exactly how you describe it will depend on your journey up to that point. In lots of cases, this "a-ha" moment is just a person hitting their bottom. After many years of drawing out and listening to these descriptions, I have come to call this moment a person's "final humiliation." Even if you were home alone, with no one around, the moment you decided to really quit drinking for good was preceded by some kind of personal humiliation, if only in your own mind, and even if no one else in the world knew about it.

For some, the humiliation is anything but private. They are disgusted at being locked up in Jail again, whether it's their second or seventh time. Whatever the external circumstances, a switch just flips on the inside, and that sets all kinds of things into motion. From that spark, a lot happens. Relationships change; some people ("drinking friends") get ditched, while others get long overdue apologies. Goals change, interests change and in short order, it seems like everything in a person's life changes.

This all happens as an integral part of a person's Recovery and is, in every sense of the word, a story. It's your story. It may not have been written yet, but that's what I'm here for, and what the Secretary of State is ultimately waiting for. Putting it together and boiling it down into the right format is the only thing that stands between you slipping a valid Driver's License back into your wallet.