Why "Needing" a License Doesn't Matter in a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal

December 7, 2012

My Office receives calls every day from people who have had their Driver's License taken for multiple DUI's. Sometimes they call right after they receive word from the Secretary of State that their License has been Revoked. Other times, they call out of frustration for not being able to get it back - often after a failed "do-it-yourself" License Appeal. Whatever precedes these calls, the callers themselves all have one thing in common; they "need" a License. Desperate, they'll ask "How am I supposed to support my family if I can't even drive to work?" or "How am I supposed to get my kids to school?"

As a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Lawyer, I understand. And I care. But make no mistake about it, the State doesn't. Once a person has their License taken away for multiple DUI's, the State, meaning the Michigan Secretary of State, doesn't like to give it back. There's a decent chance that, if you're reading this, you've already learned that the hard way. The process by which a person gets their License back, called a Driver's License Restoration, is complex, and involves what I call "a million little rules." Yet amongst those million little rules, there is nothing about a person "needing" a License. In other words, it couldn't matter less that a person will lose their job if they cannot drive, or that they have no way to get back and forth to necessary Doctor's appointments without one. "Need" is NOT a factor that the State considers when deciding a License Appeal.

Kid Car Pink 1.2.jpgIn a Michigan Driver's License Restoration Appeal, the Michigan Secretary of State, through it's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (known as the DAAD), considers a number of legal issues before it decides to Restore a person's Driving privilege or not. We could examine these issues until the stars burn out, but for all practical purposes (and what else matters, really?), winning or losing a License Appeal requires that you prove 2 things, by what is called "clear and convincing evidence" in order to get back on the road:

1. That your alcohol problem is under control, and
2. That your alcohol problem is likely to remain under control.

To boil it down even further, this pretty much means proving you're Sober. "Sober" certainly means something different to someone in Recovery than it does to someone who's not. To the person in Recovery, "Sober" means a way of life, free of all mind and mood altering chemicals. It means you've decided to give up drinking and live an alcohol-free life. To everyone else, being "sober" just means you're not drunk at the moment. Thus, to someone in Recovery, being "Sober" means having given up drinking and choosing to live without alcohol, whereas to pretty much everyone else, being "sober" means little more than the opposite of being inebriated.

Proving those things to a Hearing Officer is really the whole point of what I do. In that sense, my being a Lawyer, or your being a Sober person isn't nearly good enough; we need to combine my skills as a genuine Driver's License Restoration Lawyer with your experiences as you transitioned from drinker to non-drinker. I've written rather extensively about this process in other articles, so we won't belabor it here, beyond my pointing out that, if you are truly Sober, and become my Client, I Guarantee to win your License back the first time we try. I navigate those "million little rules" every day.

Yet for all that goes into the License Restoration process, the fact that a person really needs a License does not count. It does not matter how hard life has become without the ability to drive, nor does it matter how long a person has been without a License. The State does not "care," to the extent that it "cares" at all. It is not a factor that a person has paid off everything they've owed to the Courts and the Secretary of State, nor does it mater that they've got a great job offer, but that they'll need a valid License in order to accept.

Instead, the State looks to see if the person has quit drinking, and has what it takes to remain alcohol-free. This is really the "meat and potatoes" of a License Appeal. As noted before, a person must prove this by "clear and convincing evidence," meaning that they have to present a compelling case. By "compelling," I mean that if the Hearing Officer deciding their case has any unanswered questions or unresolved doubts, then the Appeal will be Denied.

I know this may sound harsh, but it is a reality that many people will have to face. Winning a License Appeal is all about presenting the required evidence, and has nothing to do with how much a person "needs" a License. This sometimes crops up when I edit my Client's Letters of Support, and the writer points out how difficult is has been for the person to have gone without a License, and how much the person would treasure the ability to drive again, and how it would help them get their life back on track.

That stuff couldn't matter less.

The State's first (and really only) concern is to NOT put anyone who still drinks back on the road. The State sees anyone who still drinks, however occasionally, as a person who is far too risky to get behind the wheel. Often, these people will jump up and down and insist how they've learned their lesson, and that they'll never drink and drive again, but the State figures that if you drink, sooner or later, you'll drink and drive.

We can debate the validity of that kind of reasoning forever, but since the State is the entity holding all the cards, a person needs to accept that you either play by their rules, or you don't win. And if you're going to get into the game, you not only have to understand the rules (or, if you ever want to win, hire a Lawyer who does...), but you must remember that the fact that you "need" a Driver's License counts for exactly nothing.

I can help with all this. It's what I do all day, every day, and I offer a first time win Guarantee. To anyone who wants to give it a go by themselves, I sincerely say "good luck." Before you send your paperwork in, though, bookmark my site, or this blog, so you know where to find me next year, in case things don't work out as well as you hope.