As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer who writes about every aspect of driver’s license reinstatement appeals, I have published plenty of articles that separately detail how you can win your license back without going to AA, and, on the flip side, how AA can play a helpful role in a successful appeal. The straightforward reality is that you can win your license back either with, or without AA. When you dig a little deeper, though, it becomes clear that it’s what a person has learned about his or her drinking that matters, and not really where he or she learned it. A lot of people who go through the Michigan Secretary of State’s license appeal process have spent at least a little time in AA, but there are also plenty who have never been to a single meeting in their lives. The key to winning a Michigan license restoration or clearance case has everything to do with a person learning, whether through AA, counseling, education, self-study, or any combination of the above, that his or her relationship to alcohol has moved to a stage where drinking again is never an option.
The most important part of my job is to help my client “prove sobriety” within the framework of the license appeal process and its “million little rules.” This is where things can become very frustrating, especially for someone who has genuinely and honestly quit drinking yet still loses his or her driver’s license restoration or clearance case. It’s natural to think, “What more do they want? This isn’t fair!” And while I understand those feelings, if you want to get your license back, you have to accept the way the system works and either present a winning appeal within it, following all those that govern these cases, or fight that system and continue to lose year after year. It would take more space than I have here, and certainly way more time than the reader would likely care to spend, for me to explain how and why the driver’s license restoration process is actually not unfair, but the bottom line is that there are numerous, specific steps you need to follow to win your license back. If you have really quit drinking, then I can get you back on the road because I know exactly what to do and essentially have this down to a science. As I hinted before, the choice is rather simple: Do it the way the Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS, the body that decides these cases) requires, and win your appeal, or do it your way, and lose.
In a sense, winning a license appeal is a lot like building a watch. First, you need all the right parts. Watch parts have to be made very precisely. You can’t just jam “good enough” pieces into the mechanism, or else the movement won’t work. In that way, a license appeal requires real sobriety. There is no “good enough” kind of sobriety. Either you’ve gotten sober and changed your life, or not. Even with all the right parts, however, building a watch requires putting each component in the right place, and in the right order. The same thing holds true in a license restoration appeal. Even if you have real sobriety, not putting your case together exactly as it needs to go will result in a frustrating lack of success. With that said, let’s circle back to the most important element or “part” of a license appeal case, sobriety…