Losing your Michigan Driver's License Restoration or Clearance Appeal

August 9, 2013

I don't lose license restoration cases. As a Michigan driver's license restoration lawyer, I provide a guarantee that, if I represent you, I'll win your case and get you back on the road. This makes me stand out as a Michigan license appeal attorney, and in a way that makes me proud of the success my standards and efforts produce. I have written extensively about the license appeal process, including the dangers of either trying it alone, without representation, or by hiring some lawyer who claims to "do" license appeals. I am way beyond having to drum up business, so when I caution anyone about trying to represent themselves, I really mean to help them.

In more than 22 years of handling Michigan driver's license restoration appeals, I have been hired more times than I can count by people who have tried unsuccessfully to win their own license appeals. My office is called almost daily by someone who has just opened his or her mail only to learn that they've lost a "do it yourself" case. In many of these cases, the person who filed the appeal really has quit drinking, and they find it hard to understand how they could lose. Frustrated, they get on the computer, find my blog or site, and then call my office, wanting to appeal. For many of these folks, money isn't an issue, either, at least at this point.

Loser 2.2.jpgSuch people almost sound like the perfect clients, don't they? Except that, in just about every single instance, all the money in the world can't fix the damage done by someone handling his or her own appeal. The same also holds true when some lawyer for whom license restoration appeals are not the basis of his or her practice tries their hand at one. License appeals are governed by what I call a "million little rules," and even knowing most of them isn't good enough. If you're going to win license cases with anything other than luck, you have to know all the rules and the nuances involved in their interpretation. For my part, I seldom bother looking over a lost case with any intent to take the case and appeal the matter to court because almost every time, the appeal has been botched in some way by the person who handled it, lawyer or not.

Amongst the most frequent reasons resulting in a denied appeal are problems with the substance abuse evaluation, variances or lack of specificity in the letters of support, unsatisfactory testimonial answers by the person filing the appeal, or pretty much anything to do with witnesses. As I see it, only an amateur will call someone in to testify as a witness. I never call witnesses, and I not only win virtually every case I take the first time, but back up my claims with a guarantee.

However it works out, when someone loses, we can safely say that things didn't go as planned, and the person thereafter has 2 options: Wait until next year to try again, or appeal to court. Then it's left to me to tell them that appealing to court is almost never an option, or at least one that has any chance of success. Usually, they'll sigh, and then ask "So I just have to wait until next year, then?"

"Yes," I'll say. Invariably, the person will sigh again, thank me for my time, say they wished they had found my blog and site before they filed their appeal, and then tell me they'll be calling back when their next eligibility date approaches. And they usually do. Even though this is the cycle I live over and over, and even though it's how I earn my income, I wish I could find some way to break it by getting to these people before they go off and do their own license appeal. It's not that there's any more money in it for me; it's just that there's a license in it sooner for the vast majority of those people hell bent on trying the "do it yourself" license appeal only to find themselves ensnared by things they had no idea even existed. There's a decent chance that if you're reading this, you're in that group. And if that's the case, there's an equally good chance that you want to call my office anyway and just ask about your case, hoping that it's somehow different. This is particularly true if you've made the rather commendable transition from drinker to non-drinker. I can certainly help you figure that out...

By all means, please call. We're nice people, and most of the time, we can help you figure out exactly why you lost and why your issue (usually) isn't appealable. Who knows, maybe you're the exception to the rule. It's not that it never happens, it's just that, more often than not, when someone who doesn't make his or her living doing license appeals tries one, they miss things. In fact, in the week before I wrote this article, I had someone send me an order denying his appeal, only to find that his case is be one I'd actually appeal to court.

There really is no way around an article like this sounding like a sales pitch to anyone who hasn't already lost. Even so, I'd challenge the reader to consider the notion that "you don't know what you don't know." While I normally consider myself smart, I have no illusions that I'm anything special. Even so, I've always had a hard time with "old sayings" and such. Whatever language ability I have that makes it rather easy for me to write article after article, it certainly doesn't extend to figuring out the hidden meaning in certain common euphemisms. Most people laugh when they hear this, as I do now, but during my childhood of the early 1970's, when refrigerator magnets were first becoming popular, just about everyone had a magnet that said "If I told you that you had a nice body, would you hold it against me?" I never understood that. I always wondered, why would someone would get mad about being told that he or she had a nice body? No matter how I tried, the phrase never made any sense to me. Then, one day, probably when I was in my 30's, it hit me; "would you hold it against me," meaning push your nice body against mine. Aha! And to think it only took me decades, whereas everyone else got it in seconds, or even quicker...

There's a point to this, and my story is the set up for it. Just like the nice body concept, it took me years to figure out the true meaning of "you don't know what you don't know." Beyond not knowing things you haven't learned yet (I know about karate, for example, but I don't really know any of its moves or techniques), it means you don't even know about the existence of certain things, and therefore cannot even begin how to understand how such things figure into the bigger picture. Think about law, for a moment. Most people think they understand what law generally is, and what laws are, but if you don't know the fundamental difference between common law and statutory law, then you don't really understand one of the most basic and fundamental concepts of American jurisprudence. How, then, could you ever expect to understand that the legal constructs governing the ownership of real estate derives from common law, and not statutory law? The point is that, unless you're a lawyer, you wouldn't even know that you don't know that.

The same thing holds true for license appeals. A person can really study really hard and learn many of the Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division's (DAAD) rules, but unless he or she understands, at the most basic level, what "clear and convincing evidence" means, and how it's different from preponderance of the evidence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt, then they're flying blind.

Yet for all of that, I have long said that I don't believe in trying to talk someone out of handling his or her own appeal. The only "cost" to such an effort is that, if you lose, you'll almost certainly have to wait a year to try again. I've taken on clients that have tried 2 or even 3 times before they gave in and hired help. I'll be here, so whatever you ultimately decide, it's fine by me. The irony, however, is that most people regret doing it by themselves not just because they lose, but because even when that happens, and they're willing to spend the money for a license restoration lawyer like me, they learn that they'll still have to suffer the adverse consequences of their decision and bum rides for another year.

Underlying all of this is usually a concern about money. That's a valid concern. Nobody I know has money piled up and ready to throw around. If you can save a buck, then by all means, you should. Here, however, spending the money for proper representation should be seen as an investment in your future. Most people are seriously held back and inconvenienced by not being able to drive. Many people without a license believe or know that getting back on the road will open up all kinds of educational and employment opportunities for them. I try to make that investment a sound proposition by providing a first time win guarantee. If you're genuinely sober (that's a non-negotiable requirement with me) and I take your case, you'll only pay me once to get back on the road legally. I win practically every case I take the first time around, but in the event we don't succeed, I will continue to represent you before the DAAD until you do get your license back. To date, I have NEVER had to go back a third time, and have only ever had to do a handful of second-time appeals. I make my living winning these cases the first time, and not by doing "warranty work." Still, the point is that hiring me is not a gamble. By contrast, trying it alone, or with any lawyer that doesn't provide a guarantee certainly is.