In part 1 of this article about a Michigan drivers license hold that prevents you from obtaining or renewing a driver's license in another state, we began our discussion by highlighting that being really and truly sober is a necessary prerequisite to winning. I pointed out that, as a Michigan driver's license restoration lawyer, I provide a guarantee that if I accept your case, I'll win it. I also made clear that I require a person to be genuinely sober before I'll take his or her case, but once I do, the client will have the assurance and satisfaction of knowing that they'll only pay me once to get back on the road legally.
In this second part, we'll conclude our discussion about the empowerment real world evidentiary value that being able to tell the truth in a license appeal brings to the whole cause, and then we'll move on to examine the license appeal process, both in my office and at the state level, as well as why you'll have to come back to Michigan if you want to do this right, and how long the process takes.
Implicit in our discussion of really being sober and why being able to be honest about that is that there is a certain but very real power in being able to stand strong and know you're telling the truth. I will stand by my client with every fiber of my heart and soul when I know he or she is really sober. By contrast, there is just no way I could ever feel that person who still drinks is somehow getting "screwed" by the system, when the first thing that system requires to return a license is that he or she has truly quit drinking.
Beyond that, part of getting sober is becoming honest, first with yourself, then with those around you. Here again, if you "get it," you understand this. If you don't, then this discussion seems like a lot of hot air, anyway. Whatever else, I thrive off of that empowering feeling when a license appeal is all about a person having really made the change from drinker to non-drinker and we're going in to tell the truth. And as anyone who has made that change knows, giving up drinking really involves a whole panorama of changes, from who you hang around with, to what you do with your time, how you think, where you go, and how you relate to the world around you and the people in it. In fact, the transition to recovery is really the culmination of countless other changes in your life. You can't fake that stuff. Ironically, if you've actually gone through the process of getting sober, you fundamentally understand that, whereas if you merely think you understand the process of getting sober, you really don't.
Proving that you're sober is best done at an in-person hearing. Administrative appeals (meaning appeals by mail) are losers. About half of my out-of-state clients are people who have tried an administrative appeal before, often more than once, and lost. The numbers are frightening: 74% (about 3 out of 4) administrative appeals are denied each year by the Michigan Driver Assessment and Appeal Division. This means your chances are 1 out of 4 to get back on the road, and 3 out of 4 that you'll be unable to drive for another year if you try the appeal by mail. It may be a headache to come back to Michigan, but it beats having to arrange rides for another year, or hold off on a job where having a license is necessary.
This means that if you're really serious about winning a clearance, coming back to Michigan to get it done is important. I require it. Nearly ½ of my clients come from out of state, and each week I meet with someone who now lives elsewhere. I have refined this part of the process nearly down to a science:
I require that a new client meet with me for 3 hours to "prep" for his or her substance abuse evaluation. This meeting is coordinated with the clinic I use to have the evaluation completed so that the person can leave our meeting and go directly to meet with the evaluator a few blocks from my office. This allows the whole first part of the process to be completed in one day, or even half a day. The rest of the work, including editing and revising the letters of support, can be done while you're back home. The only other time you'll have to come back to Michigan is to appear with me for your actual hearing. These hearings are scheduled on the hour at 9, 10, 11, and then 1, 2, and 3 o'clock. The hearing cannot last more than an hour, and they start punctually, so, very much unlike court, you can count on your exact start time. Most hearings don't last anywhere near the whole hour, but whatever else, each hearing must be concluded within that hour.
In some of my other blog articles, as well as in the relevant sections of my website, I explain this in more detail. The thrust here is to make clear that you'll need to come back. I have discontinued offering help with administrative hearings because, without exception, everyone ultimately decides to come to Michigan anyway. In more than 23 years of practice, I have only handled 1 administrative appeal (yes, I won it), and I hated every step of it. I control these cases from start to finish, and that's how I win them, and why I guarantee I do. Part of the sacrifice to achieve those results is that a person will have to come back to do it right. A long distance license appeal is like a long distance romance; it sounds good, at first, but it's largely unsatisfying and never really works out, anyway.
In terms of "how long," much of that depends upon you. In terms of pure speed, it takes about 2 to 3 weeks for your substance abuse evaluation to be completed (this includes the return of the lab report for the mandatory urine screen). If necessary, I can edit and revise the letters of support within a few weeks, meaning we can have the case ready to file in under a month. Unfortunately, the biggest delay comes from the state. As of this writing, license appeal hearings are taking from between 8 to 10 weeks from the time of filing until you actually wind up sitting in front of a hearing officer. There is nothing we can do about that.
In the real world, almost everyone who comes to see me tells me that they want to get this done as quickly as possible. On average, it takes most people about 2 months before their case is ready to be filed. This, of course, includes the time necessary to have their letters revised, signed notarized, and back to me.
The bottom line is that if you now live outside of Michigan, but have a Michigan hold on your driving record from multiple DUI's, you're going to have to go through the driver's license restoration/clearance process to get it removed. There are no shortcuts, at least that have any real chance of success. In many cases, by the time anyone finds me, they've already tried on their own and been denied. If you're really, genuinely sober, I can help you be able to put a valid driver's license back in your wallet, guaranteed, but you'll have to come back to Michigan 2 times in order to get it done.
If and when you're ready to move forward, pick up the phone and call my office (586-228-6523) with your questions. We'll gladly answer them, explain the process over the phone and help you figure things out.