In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of how and why sobriety is a necessary and non-negotiable requirement to win a Michigan driver's license restoration appeal. We clarified that the 2 main issues you must prove to Michigan Secretary of State's Driver Assessment and Appeal Division, by "clear and convincing evidence" are first, that your alcohol problem is under control, and second, that it is likely to remain under control.
From that starting point, we analyzed how this all boils down to having to prove that you have been completely abstinent from alcohol for at least a year, and that you have the commitment and tools to remain abstinent for the rest of your life. We reduced this further to the paradoxically simple yet complex reality that you must be sober, and be able to prove it within the evidentiary framework of the "million little rules" that govern Michigan license appeals.
As a Michigan driver's license restoration lawyer, I guarantee that I will win any license appeal case that I accept, but I only accept clients who are really and truly sober. This is a point that I need to be very clear about: I am not interested in taking a case for someone who has not really and truly quit drinking. Whatever else, I'm glad to speak with anyone, even if he or she is still drinking, and perhaps provide some information that can help him or her tip the scales in favor of quitting. But until a person has truly "put the plug in the jug," I won't undertake a license appeal. I am certainly in business to make money, but neither my integrity nor my reputation is for sale, nor am I interested in taking on a case that will wind up requiring "warranty work."
Sobriety, as we're describing it, involves not losing sight of the simple, yet evasive fact that once your drinking becomes a problem, you can't go back. Ever. There is no managing or controlling it. Either you quit, and quit for good, or you struggle with alcohol and always wind up on the losing side of things. And while it's true that most of my clients are not in AA, there are still some powerful truths that the AA program has gifted to the recovery world, and one particularly relevant to this discussion is the characterization of alcohol as "cunning, baffling, and powerful." You don't need to be in AA to appreciate its meaning, but you can't lose sight of it, either. If you've gotten really sick from eating a particular brand or kind of food, you will probably never eat it again. Yet people will endure loss of family, friends, jobs, get sent to jail and spend fortunes cleaning up the mess caused by their drinking, only to go right back to it. This baffling and powerful reality is part of the complexity and irrationality of addiction.
A client of mine once rather astutely pointed out that the whole idea of needing to think about drinking in any context of "controlling," "limiting" or "managing" it essentially proves that you already have a problem. Normal drinkers don't have to think about controlling their drinking. This is, of course, is decidedly different than a normal person walking into a pastry shop an exercising some self-control. Whatever else, such a person is thinking about limiting his or her calories to under a million on a given occasion, or not buying so much that it goes stale before it gets eaten. That kind of "control" isn't a concern about sliding into the abyss of self-destruction, and losing friends and family and getting into legal trouble and dealing with things like job loss because of a return to "old ways."
A normal drinker will automatically stop drinking before he or she gets into trouble. That's not to say a person who is a "normal" drinker may not have overindulged at various times in his or her life. However, when a person's use of alcohol, or any substance, for that matter, begins to do real damage and create negative consequences for which he or she must compensate, then things are getting out of hand. Whatever else, a normal drinker doesn't have a pattern of troubled behavior with alcohol that he or she has to avoid. A person in recovery comes to learn that once he or she has established a troubled drinking pattern, the only kind of "moderation" that works for him or her is complete and total abstinence. This is always a lesson learned the hard way, and usually only after a person has racked up countless failed attempts to control, limit or manage his or her drinking.