Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration – Out of State Issues

Many, if not most, of my out-of-state clients who hire me for a Michigan driver’s license clearance case have previously tried and lost an administrative review filed with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS).  Virtually all of these “do-it-yourself” attempts are made without a lawyer.  For as many years as I have been a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I have pretty much learned that most people who hire me for a clearance will do so after having first taken a shot at it on their own.  Accordingly, I don’t waste any time trying to convince someone that he or she shouldn’t try it, but rather just reassure him or her that I’m here if and when things don’t work out.  In this article, I want to remind the reader just how much these “appeals by mail” are statistically doomed and why, if you really want to win a clearance of Michigan’s hold on your driving record, you need to come back to Michigan for a live hearing.  Of course, it is a necessary first requirement to winning a license or clearance appeal that you have honestly quit drinking and are genuinely sober.  If you at least have that, then read on.

Julio_Signals_EMBL-e1441896917423For everything there is to back up these numbers, the plain and simple fact is that about 3 out of 4 administrative reviews are denied.  That means that anyone who thinks about going this route needs to also think seriously about how a 1 out of 4 chance of winning sounds.  Worse yet, you cannot file another new appeal for an entire year, although this is often a source of confusion because a person who is denied can request a hearing to review that denial, although no new evidence can be presented, and that hearing is not “another chance” to plead your case, but rather an opportunity to prove that the first decision was unlawful, which explains why I’ve NEVER seen one of those appeals succeed.  Think of it this way, if you have a 3 out of 4 chance of losing by mail the first time, then you have about a 99.9 out of 100 chance of losing at an appeal which essentially considers whether that initial denial was legal or not.  If luck has anything to do with it, a person should realize that he or she is not on any kind of roll coming off that first loss to begin with.

In some of my other driver’s license restoration blog articles, I explain why I will never do video hearings in any of my license appeal cases.  Even though the local SOS branch office with a video terminal closest to my office is LESS than 5 minutes away, I will gladly drive nearly an hour to conduct my hearings live, and in-person, at the Livonia (Metro-Detroit area) hearings office.  It should be obvious that if I won’t avail myself of the incredible convenience of a nearby video hearing because I think it is so inferior to a live proceeding, I certainly don’t believe in any kind of case being decided with no hearing at all.  To fully understand why an administrative review is about as bad an idea as seeking financial advice at a homeless shelter, you need to know a few important facts about the whole license appeal process, beginning with the very rule under which every single clearance and restoration case is decided, known as “Rule 13.”

In part 1 of this article, I began my updated examination of the Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Office (AHS) hearing officers who staff the Livonia hearing office, and who decide all the Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals that I file, as well as the seemingly ever-growing number of ignition interlock violations that come about. In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I appear before these same people day-in and day-out, and I have come to know how each perceives case evidence like the substance abuse evaluation and the letters of support. The same piece of such evidence may be interpreted differently by one hearing officer over another, and this is something you better know before your hearing. Part of the reason I provide a guarantee to win every case I take is that I always start with a genuinely sober client whose recovery is exactly what is contemplated as the “meat and potatoes” of a license appeal, and I wind up at the hearing conducted by a hearing officer whose idiosyncrasies I know well.

5661262_orig.jpgThis is important stuff, but as I hope the reader gleans, it’s certainly second, or subordinate, to your being genuinely sober. I know these hearing officers as well as anyone, and I daresay I see them far more than just about any other lawyer, but none of that matters a bit if a person has not honestly adopted an alcohol-free lifestyle. I mention this because for all the time I’ve spent detailing how I know the hearing officers, they have come to know me, as well. There is no single case, and no amount of money that would tempt me to ruin my reputation for honesty in their eyes. It is often and wisely noted that it takes a lifetime to build and maintain a good reputation, but it only takes one stupid thing to destroy it. I strive to be the best lawyer I can be, but I’d much rather be known and trusted as honest, yet of only average skill, than I’d ever want to be known as incredibly talented, but not trustworthy. Not all of my license restoration or clearance appeal cases are perfect, but none of them is bogus, or based upon false information, and that’s why I have my guarantee. We covered 2 of the hearing officers in the first part of this article; now, let’s look at the other 3.

The New Nice Guy. This hearing officer is also a new to the Livonia lineup since my 2011 article, and I struggled to find a better description for him than “The New Nice Guy,” especially because the hearing officer nicknamed “The Nice Guy” in the earlier article is still there, and still nice, but to overlook The New Nice Guy’s natural kindness would be like trying to ignore the horn on a unicorn. Before becoming a lawyer, this hearing officer was a police officer in the Metro-Detroit area. This means he knows how to handle people, question people, and size them up, and he knows how to do that as a matter of instinct, and without hesitation. Consistently friendly and pleasant, it doesn’t take long to realize that he doesn’t miss a thing – ever. I pride myself on being perceptive, but I realize that I’m lucky just to be perceptive enough to see how much more perceptive he is. It’s kind of like having Sherlock Holmes as a hearing officer, except The New Nice Guy has a big heart. Perhaps because of his police training, his questions are never asked just to fill time, and are always directly responsive to the case before him. What’s obvious through his questions is that they cut to the heart of the matter and probe whether the person really is sober or not. In that sense, it’s almost like he has a built-in truth meter. This is obviously good for anyone who has genuinely quit drinking, but likely a deal breaker for anyone who is not. One of his more interesting traits is the ability to get to the core of an issue with only a few questions. Again, this isn’t trouble for anyone who is really sober, but I can only imagine that it’s sheer torture for anyone trying to pull a fast one. Still, for all of his skill, it is obvious that The New Nice Guy puts his heart into trying to discover the truth, and do the right thing.

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My job as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer involves a lot of license appeal hearings. Back in 2011, I put up a 2-part blog installment entitled “Driver’s License Restoration Appeals in Michigan – Know Your Hearing Officer.” This 2-part article will be a timely update of that article, because there has been a couple of changes to the lineup of the Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) hearing officers in Livonia, where my cases are heard, and because, frankly, it’s time to refresh this very important subject anyway. The hearing officer is to a license reinstatement case what a conductor is to a classical orchestra. When you look at either a license appeal case or orchestral composition, everything is on paper, and, in a sense, both the rules of a license appeal and the music in a symphony are spelled out clearly, in black and white. A piece of music is what it is, but one conductor may have the orchestra play a passage faster, or more loudly, than another maestro. In the same way, each hearing officer sees things a little differently than the others, and each finds certain particular evidentiary points more important than his or her colleagues. In other words, each conductor and each hearing officer interprets what’s in front of him or her in their own unique way. In a license appeal case, understanding how that works is critical to winning.

question-mark-face.pngIn a Michigan license restoration or clearance appeal case, the 2 main things you must prove are that your alcohol problem is “under control” and that your alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control.” “Under control” means that you haven’t had a drink for at least a year; I explain this by saying that you have to “fix” a sobriety date, even if you only know the month and year (for example, by saying something like, “June of 2011”). In my practice, I generally want a person to have been sober for at least 2 years, and I much prefer at least 3, and even more. “Likely to remain under control” essentially means that you are a safe bet to never drink again, which entails proving you have both the commitment and the tools to live an alcohol-free lifestyle. There is a lot more to a license appeal than this, but at least we have a frame of reference to start. Proving these things is primarily done by submitting letters of support and a substance abuse evaluation. How the hearing officer assigned to your case interprets this (and all the other) evidence is really fundamental to its outcome.

I have all my license appeal hearings set at the AHS office in Livonia, where there are 5 hearing officers. Because of the sheer volume of license appeals I handle, I wind up before the same hearing officers again and again – and again. I get to really know how they do things, and I am very familiar with the things they have in common, as well as the idiosyncrasies that makes a hearing before one of them different from a hearing before anyone of the others. This is important to me because the specific hearing officer assigned to your case significantly affects how we’ll prepare for it. Beyond the various evidentiary or legal points in any given case that may be more or less important to one hearing officer over another, the way each hearing officer conducts a hearing is unique to him or her, as well. I simply cannot imagine a client walking into the hearing room without having been prepared for exactly what is going to happen, how the hearing is going to play out, what questions are going to be asked, and by whom. That last part is important because as it stands now, 3 of the 5 hearing officers prefer that the lawyer ask most of the questions. By contrast, and less than 3 years ago, standard operating procedure was for the hearing officer to ask most of the questions, so the whole idea of who will be asking the questions is now an important part of the hearing process and preparation for it. Therefore, when I know that I’ll be asking most of the questions, I have to remember to include those that are of particular interest to the specific hearing officer deciding the case. In other words, even the questions that I ask changes somewhat from hearing officer to hearing officer.
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An important part of my job as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer is determining when a person can and when he or she should file a license appeal. In 2 very recent articles, I examined the whole idea of needing a license and the distinction between being able to file the case as opposed to ready to win it. Usually, it’s just easier to skip all of the analysis of eligibility and have me read over a driving record. I ALWAYS do that for free. All I need to know before I look at a record is whether or not the person has quit drinking. If you are unsure about your eligibility to file a license appeal, the advisability of doing so now, or doing so sooner, rather than later, you can just bypass all the confusion and send me your driving record. I can look over the most complicated record there is, and in a few minutes know exactly what to do, and when. In this very short article, I want to take a quick look at driving records in the context of Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals.

michigan-basic-driver-improvement-course-reviews.jpgGetting your driving record is not hard, but if there is one big point I want the reader to take from this article, it’s that you should always – and only – get an official driving record through the Michigan Secretary of State. DO NOT, and I repeat here – DO NOT ever get your driving (or criminal) record through any online service other than that offered by the State of Michigan. The SOS charges $9 if you mail in the request form, and $8 if you show up at a branch office to obtain a copy of your record. This isn’t about money, though, because even though all the “services” out there charge more than you’d pay for an official copy of your record, they very often provide inaccurate and/or incomplete information on those records. Understand that every official action that affects your driving record, meaning every bit of information accessed or submitted by a police agency, court, or the Secretary of State itself is obtained from or placed upon your official state driving record. This means that everyone who matters uses and reads the official format of your record. No one in any official capacity will ever look at or use anything other than your official Michigan Secretary of State driving record.

Every non-official record I’ve ever seen comes from a national company, meaning that they take Michigan’s information and instead of understanding or using the state’s legal and technical terms, will instead apply generic terms used elsewhere as they try to reassemble and understand what’s on the official record. To me, that’s like having the option to buy the official HD Blu Ray of your favorite movie for $9, or a crappy bootleg copy of it for $12. About the best example I can use is that in most states, driver’s licenses are issued by a DMV, or Department of Motor Vehicles. In Michigan, we don’t have that; instead our equivalent of a DMV is the Michigan Secretary of State. And while I go along with the flow and, like everyone else, use the term “DUI” for a drunk driving, the offense in Michigan is technically called OWI, or Operating While Intoxicated. We do not have any such offense as DUI, DWI, DUIL or OUI in Michigan. Given that pretty much no other state except Michigan uses the term OWI for drunk driving, it’s not surprising that these internet driving record operations use the more common, but incorrect terms like DUI and DWI on their reports. In the real world, that’s about as helpful as getting the assembly instructions for the a completely different product than the one you bought.
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In my Michigan driver’s license restoration practice, I handle a lot of out-of-state clearance cases. In fact, so many of my clients come from outside of Michigan that I’d like to identify myself as a Michigan clearance and driver’s license restoration lawyer, but that sounds so cumbersome, and, with a little digging, most people learn that “driver’s license restoration” encompasses clearances anyway, that I just take the opportunity here and there to mention clearances as an integral part of what I do. In this article, we are going to focus on clearances for those who no longer (or never did) live in Michigan. In particular, I want to address those folks who previously tried and lost a “do it yourself” appeal by mail, known as an administrative review. Given that 3 out of 4 administrative review appeals are denied, it’s no wonder that so many of my out of state clients have tried this route, at least once, before hiring me. Because my services come with a guarantee, anyone hiring me can take comfort in knowing that he or she will only pay me once to finally get that long-awaited clearance. And to be blunt about it, I make my money winning these cases the first time, so I am every bit as invested as my client in a prompt and successful outcome.

nTEjpnnTA.gifFirst, in terms of the evidence that is submitted, there is absolutely no difference between a driver’s license restoration appeal for someone who lives in Michigan and an out of state administrative review. Second, license appeals are simply hard. They are designed to be hard because, as far as the numbers go, only a minority of people who try to win their license back will actually remain sober for good. The point of the law is to keep everyone off the road who presents as a risk to ever drink again, so that means only a select few will ever prove a low enough risk to put back behind the wheel. Think about that; how many people do you think are going to present sufficient evidence to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS, and not that long ago known as the “DAAD”) that shows, by “clear and convincing evidence,” that they are a safe bet to remain alcohol-free for life? Skipping over all the relevant science for a moment, it’s actually incredible that only 3 out of 4 administrative appeals lose. And for your part, how anxious are you to place a bet that gives you a 75% chance of losing?

The big problem here is that if you lose your administrative review with the Secretary of State, you can’t file a new one for at least another year, and even then, you’re stuck having to fix, if possible, whatever you screwed up the first time. Like all good things, winning a clearance doesn’t come easy. My clients have to come back to Michigan twice; the first time to meet with me for about 3 hours and then go a few blocks from my office to the clinic I use to have their substance abuse evaluation completed. The next (and last) required trip back is for the actual license appeal hearing, and that’s usually months later (it takes about 12 weeks from the time a hearing is requested until you even get notice of it). In the meantime, I’ll be at work on the letters of support and the rest of the case. Sure, in an appeal by mail you can skip having to come back for the hearing, but as the numbers show, you pretty much skip any chance of winning your clearance, as well. I have this process down to a science, but there are 2 things that are absolutes in my practice: First, you must be genuinely sober to win your license back (I won’t take a case for anyone who has not truly quit drinking), and second, you have to come back to Michigan to do this. With those 2 things in hand, I will win your license back, guaranteed.
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A lot of people who move out of Michigan without a valid driver’s license thereafter find that they urgently need one. When you live in Michigan and the Secretary of State has taken your license away for multiple DUI’s, it’s called a revocation. If and/or when you leave, that revocation goes along with you, and once you declare residency in another state, your revoked license becomes a Michigan “hold” on your driving record that will prevent you from getting or renewing a license in your new state. Out-of-state residents will need a “clearance” of Michigan’s hold, while those who still live here must “undo” the revocation by filing for the “restoration” of their Michigan driver’s license. There’s a decent chance that you, the reader, already knows this. The real issue, then, becomes what are you going to do about it. If you’re serious about clearing the Michigan hold on your driving record, I can do that for you, and I guarantee the result.

Thumbnail image for on-hold-031.2.jpgIn the driver’s license restoration section of my website, and the corresponding section of this blog, I provide a detailed examination of the steps involved in driver’s license appeals. Here, it is important to point out that, up to the point of filing it with the Secretary of State, there is no difference between a driver’s license restoration and a license clearance appeal. The same forms are required for each, including the substance abuse evaluation and the letters of support. The key procedural difference is that Michigan residents must appear for an actual live appeal hearing before the Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), while out-of-state residents can gamble for a clearance without a hearing, through what is called an “administrative review.” I hold an actual hearing in every case I take, and that plays a large role in my ability to guarantee a win. An administrative review is an appeal by mail with no hearing. The truth is that the administrative review process is a quick path to nowhere, because 3 out of 4 such cases are denied each year.

My office has developed an efficient and guaranteed system for out of state clients to remove Michigan’s driving record hold. This requires you to come back to Michigan twice. First, you’ll come to meet with me and have your substance abuse evaluation completed. We can complete everything that needs to be done to file your appeal in that one trip. Your second (and last) trip back will be to attend your actual hearing. I know that this is an expense and inconvenience that some people would prefer to avoid, but if you really want to be able to drive again, this is a comparatively small price to pay in order to finally do it. Because time is often of the essence, we can get everything done in a single day, meaning a person can come see me in the morning (our first meeting takes about 3 hours), go directly to his or her evaluation, and be on the way to the airport or wherever by mid-afternoon. Here’s how:
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About half of my Driver’s license restoration practice involves obtaining the clearance of a “hold” the Michigan Secretary of State has placed on a person’s driving record that prevents him or her from obtaining a license in a different state. Amongst this group, most people have tried, by themselves, to remove the hold by filing what’s called an “administrative review,” which is essentially an appeal by mail. Statistically speaking, 3 out of 4 of these attempts lose, and there is no way to tell how many times the lucky 1 out of 4 have tried before, but the reality line is that most of my out-of-state clients have been down this road. By the time they call my office, the only things we need to work out is scheduling an appointment with me. To make everything as easy as possible, we set things up so that the client and I will have our first meeting, for about 3 hours, and then he or she simply goes a few blocks from my office to the clinic I use to have the substance abuse evaluation completed. This means that everything can be done (except the actual license hearing, which takes place a few months later) in the span of a handful of hours, and then the client can be on his or her way home before dinner time.

SOS 1.2.jpgNot surprisingly, most of my out of state clients come from the south (largely Florida and North Carolina) and the west (Arizona, California and Texas seem to get a lot of ex-Michiganders). Other states like Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Delaware have some form of mass transit, and although I see plenty of clients who have left Michigan for these places, they are often able to get by longer without being able to drive. That said, I’ve had clients from Utah, Colorado, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Indian, Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, and even Hawaii. Eventually, no matter where they’ve gone, everyone winds up needing a driver’s license, and they have to file a license appeal to get rid of Michigan’s “hold” that keeps them from getting one in whatever state they live. Not only can I help with that, but I also guarantee that if I take a case, I will win it. The only requirement (beyond being legally eligible) is that you have to be genuinely sober. In other words, you must honestly have quit drinking and be genuinely committed to sobriety for me to get involved.

I have written extensively about the license appeal process, meaning clearances and restorations. You can get more information here, on this blog, and in the driver’s license restoration section of my website than you can probably find on the entire rest of the Internet in total. The simple point I want to make here is that driver’s license reinstatement appeals are hard to win because they are designed to be hard to win, and trying to get your license back by an administrative hearing is even harder. The rule governing license appeals directs the hearing officer deciding the case to “…not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence…that the petitioners’ alcohol or substance abuse problems…are under control and likely to remain under control.” When you break it down, this essentially translates to a negative mandate, meaning that instead of looking for reasons to grant a license appeal, a hearing officer is directed more to look for reasons to NOT grant it. If you’ve tried your own appeal before, you know all about that…
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In just about any situation where you’re going to hire someone for anything, whether it’s for a home remodeling job, a new tattoo, or a lawyer, you should always make sure you come away with a satisfactory answer to the question, “Why should I hire you?” As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, this article will focus on my answer to that question. Once in a while, I’ll get an email from someone inquiring about how much I charge for a license appeal and just by their asking that very question, I know they haven’t read very much of what I’ve published. Whatever else, I do not compete, or even think about “competing” with anyone in the license reinstatement field on the basis of price. For as much as I can say about my practice, the simple truth is that to be the best, you have continually work hard to be the best. You have to be more valuable to a client than anyone else, but you also have be much more than just someone who merely brings “added value” to the table.

Best 1.2.jpgTo start, I guarantee to win every license appeal case I take. Before I’ll take a case, however, a person must have genuinely quit drinking. Part of the reason that I’m good at what I do is that I have high standards, and I don’t bend them for money. I start with good materials – a sober client. The whole license appeal process is about making sure a person has completely removed alcohol from his or her life. It couldn’t matter less how much money a person is willing to pay; anyone laboring under the mistaken impression that it’s okay to have a drink once in a while is a million miles from being any kind of “sober,” much less the kind needed to get your license back.

I have the greatest staff in the legal world. Think that’s an exaggeration? Call my office and ask the person who answers your call anything about driver’s license restoration or clearances. We do this stuff every day, all day. The other day, I had to call the Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Office (AHS, formerly known as the DAAD) in Livonia, and when I asked my senior assistant for the number, instead of looking it up, she knew it by heart. Part of me being “more valuable” means that all a client has to do is be eligible to file a license appeal and be genuinely sober and we’ll take care of the rest. We handle the whole deal, from the substance abuse evaluation to the letters of support and everything in-between. The license appeal process is difficult by design, and it’s controlled by what I call “a million little rules.” When you hire me, you don’t have to worry about all that. When you’ve done all the work to get sober and are finally ready to get back on the road, you want things done right the first time. My office provides a one-stop way to do just that. About half of my clients come in from out of state, and my staff sets things up so that the person will come and see me first, for about 3 hours, and then go directly to the clinic I use in order to have his or her substance abuse evaluation completed, meaning that he or she can do everything in one day and be on the way back home before dinner time…
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The first two legal considerations in any Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal case are sometimes lost and/or overlooked in any examination of the subject. I write extensively about every facet of license appeals, and these issues are explicitly addressed in some of my articles, and of implicit concern in all. Anyone with even a little curiosity can dive in to my examinations and spend just about forever reading; I have over 272 license restoration articles (as of this writing), each about 3 or 4 pages long. End to end, that would be a book of more than 1000 pages. For all of that detail, I think it’s time to write an article aimed at someone looking for some very basic information about winning back a Michigan driver’s license, or clearing a Michigan “hold” on a person’s record that prevents him or her from obtaining, or renewing a driver’s license in another state. Very often, it is a close family member, friend or significant other of the person without a license who begins the search for help and information. This is where you should start.

Things 2.1.jpgJust about all of my work is for people who have lost their driver’s license because of multiple DUI’s, and/or DUI’s and drug (driving) convictions. In these types of cases, a person’s license (or privilege to drive within Michigan) has been revoked, meaning taken away forever. In order to restore a license that has been revoked, a person has to file and win a driver’s license appeal case before the Michigan Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD). It does not matter how long a person has been without a license; there is no time period whereby a person can simply “wait it out,” no process to just “get” it back, nor is there a way to bypass the formal appeal process by going to court. In fact, the law specifically forbids a hardship appeal to court in any case where a license has been revoked for DUI’s. The only way to win it back is through a formal license appeal hearing.

This means, then, that there is a specific, step-by-step process that must be followed to get back a diver’s license that has been revoked. The first condition, which must be met to even start the license restoration process, is that a person must be eligible to do so. This is a purely legal question, and it requires nothing more than simple math. In cases where a person has had 2 DUI’s within 7 years, he or she will be ineligible to file a license appeal for at least 1 year. If someone has 3 drunk driving convictions within 10 years, he or she will not be eligible to start the license appeal process for at least 5 years. These dates are absolute; there is no workaround, and no provision for the state to “care” how hard it is for a person without a license, or how much he or she needs one.

Without a doubt, one of the most important things to understand about license restoration cases in general is that they are meant to be hard. The whole point of the rules governing license appeals is to prevent giving back a license to someone who is a risk to ever drink again. This brings us to the second condition, that a person is genuinely sober and has the commitment and tools to never drink again. Here we discover the “real meat and potatoes” of the license restoration process. From the state’s point of view, a person with 2 or more DUI’s is a huge risk; too risky to ever put back on the road if he or she has ANYTHING whatsoever to do with alcohol. The state presumes, by law, that anyone whose license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s has a drinking problem, and it is NOT going to waste any time hearing someone argue that he or she doesn’t. Instead, the starting point in license restoration or clearance appeals is that a person has completely eliminated alcohol from his or her life, and will never screw around with drinking again. That means that a person must be committed to complete and total abstinence – forever.
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About half of my Michigan driver’s license restoration practice involves getting a clearance for a Michigan “hold” upon a person’s driving record that prevents him or her from obtaining (or renewing) a driver’s license in another state. A recent conversation made me realize that although those clients who need a clearance come from all over the country, there are a few states, like Florida, Arizona, California, and Illinois that tend to be the destinations of former Michiganders whose licenses were revoked at the time they left here. The problem, of course, is that no matter how long a person waits, a revoked license will stay revoked, sitting there like a brick, until it is cleared up.

Michigan Sign 1.2.jpgFrom my experience as a driver’s license appeal lawyer, the holds that Michigan tacks onto driving records wind up affecting people in Florida more than any other state. I would estimate that amongst all of my out-of-state clearance clients, the largest percentage, by far, come from the sunshine state. There are a lot of good reasons that explain this, but the bottom line is that a lot of Michigan people move to Florida, often for work or family, and they go while their Michigan driver’s license is still revoked for multiple DUI’s. Unfortunately, this situation is like a dropped anchor; no matter how far you go, or where you go, you remain tethered to Michigan by your inability to get a license.

Many, if not most people who live in Florida, Arizona, California or Texas and who have to get rid of Michigan’s hold on their driving record will first try to do it themselves. The Michigan Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (also known as the “DAAD,” and sometimes referred to by its former acronym, the “DLAD“) offers a person the opportunity to appeal by mail; this called an “administrative review.” The allure of convenience, and the understandable savings afforded by this “do-it-yourself” process is too much for some to resist. Statistically speaking, 3 out of 4 “administrative review” appeals are denied. Given a success rate of about 26%, this really amounts to a quick, cheap and convenient way to lose. One must wonder how many times those 1 out of 4 who eventually do win have tried before. Whatever the answer, the administrative review process is really a shortcut to remaining in the passenger seat more than anything else.

Eventually, most people give up, and that’s when I get the call. Beyond just “doing” these cases, and even beyond the fact that I guarantee a win in every case I take, my office has developed a process to handle out-of-state cases that maximizes efficiency while minimizing cost and inconvenience. For all there is to it, the bottom line is that my client will come to meet with me one day, usually in the mid-morning, for our first, 3-hour appointment, and then leave my office and go directly to the local clinic I use in order to have his or her substance abuse evaluation completed. This allows the client to be on his or her way home, or wherever, by late afternoon. Thereafter, a few months later, the client will return one more (and last) time to attend his or her hearing.
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