The Michigan Driver's License Restoration (and Clearance) Process - Part 2 - The Substance Abuse Evaluation
In Part 1 of this series, we learned that a person must be legally eligible, in terms of time, to begin the Michigan Driver's License Restoration process. Beyond just being eligible time-wise, however, if a person has any hope of actually winning back their License, they must also be able to prove that they have quit drinking. The most important piece of evidence bearing on this issue, and the real foundation of any License Appeal or Clearance case, is the "Substance Abuse Evaluation" that must be submitted as part of the initial documentation that must be submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) in order to start a License Appeal.
The Substance Abuse Evaluation is a state form that must be filled out by a licensed Substance Abuse Counselor. This form is critically important to a License Appeal. Doing it correctly, so that it is legally adequate, requires that certain, very specific information be listed with absolute accuracy. Anyone who has tried a License Appeal before knows all about this form. In fact, one of the most common reasons that License Appeals (especially "do-it-yourself" efforts) are Denied is due to a "questionable/insufficient substance abuse evaluation." In the real world, such errors or omissions in the Substance Abuse Evaluation are very costly.
To make matters even tougher, in order to win a License Appeal, a person has to essentially hit a home run and prove their case by what's called "clear and convincing evidence." This boils down to mean that the DAAD Hearing Officer is essentially required to look for a reason to Deny an Appeal.
Think of the Substance Abuse Evaluation as the submarine in which you will travel across the lake from the side with no License in order to get to the other side, where your License is waiting for you. If the submarine isn't watertight, meaning if it leaks, then you'll never make it to the other side. Now, if prior to setting off, the submarine needs to be inspected, if the Inspector (or, in a License Appeal, the Hearing Officer) finds any leaks in the sub (or, in a License Appeal, the Hearing Officer finds any problems with the Evaluation), then you'll never even get to begin the journey...
Because I intend to keep this series of articles brief, let me cut to the chase: Most Counselors who "do" Substance Abuse Evaluations in License Appeal cases don't do them properly. In fact, most screw them up. You read that correctly: Most "Evaluators" have no firm idea of how to do an Evaluation the right way. I completely avoid this problem by having my Evaluations done at a Clinic right by my Office where I know the Evaluators understand what the State wants (and, equally as important, does NOT want) on the form, and are up to date with how the DAAD analyzes things. In fact, I have frequent contact with these Evaluators and provide them with feedback so that they have a current and working knowledge of how the DAAD interprets the information they provide.
In terms of what's required, the Substance Abuse Evaluation form requires the following: