Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alert: Our office is OPEN, and will remain open, to the extent possible, during this crisis. We have long handled consultations and retainers by telephone. We are managing all new and pending criminal and DUI cases under current and evolving court practices.

Driver’s License Restoration and Clearance cases are well-suited to start over the phone, and the “down time” many people have now is a good opportunity to begin this process.

Our consultations have ALWAYS been free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. We are very friendly people who will be glad to explain things and answer your questions, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (EST).

While the Coronavirus crisis unfolds, our office is open (remotely) and handling cases, while both following the law and observing best practices. Although some court functions have been limited, in our roles as criminal, DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers with active and pending cases, we must and will remain available to both our clients and the courts, as well as the Michigan Secretary of State.

unnamed-1-300x234No matter what, some things are time-critical. For example, in a DUI case, it is very important to at least make a request to preserve the video evidence case right away, because many police department recycle (meaning erase) these recordings every 30 days. This is true right now – today – even though any new DUI case itself might not be heard in court for many months, long past the point where the police car dash-cam video has been erased, and therefore unavailable.

As I write this installment, pretty much everything is in-flux, and they will likely continue to change as the situation evolves. This means that any procedure we put in place or promise we make today may go out the window tomorrow. Nevertheless, because we are an established law firm with many ongoing cases, we simply cannot be unavailable to our clients, much less the courts or Secretary of State. This means we’re here for new clients, as well.

In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration attorneys who guarantee to win every first time license appeal and clearance case we take, we do, quite literally, hear it all. It is an everyday thing for us to hear how much someone has changed since they gave up drinking, and that they’re now ready to move forward in life and drive again. In much the same way that getting sober is the first thing a person must do to have any chance of winning a driver’s license appeal, actually starting the process to get it back is often the last step in that journey.

servicespuzzle-300x260-300x260I cannot say this enough: the whole point of a Michigan driver’s license reinstatement appeal is to prove to the Michigan Secretary of State that you have given up drinking for good. This requires showing 2 things: first, that you have been completely abstinent from alcohol for a “sufficient” period of time (in my office, we generally want our clients to have a minimum of 18 months of sobriety) and second, that you have the commitment and ability to never drink again. Key to this is that you’ve gotten sober for yourself, not just to get your license back.

It is a huge thing when someone quits drinking because they’ve finally “had enough.” From that point forward, everything about their life changes, and all for the better. This is what recovery and sobriety is all about. The simple fact is that a person cannot really get sober for anyone else or for any reason other than wanting it for themselves. When a person gets sick and tired of all the problems caused by drinking and then finally makes the decision to give it up completely, there is often a lot of repair work to be done in their lives. It’s normal for many of their close relationships to have been damaged (if not broken) because of alcohol.

As busy Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I deal with the circumstances surrounding OWI arrests every day, all day long. As soon as you begin looking online for anything DUI related, you find hit with more info and analysis than you could ever use (or want). Despite all that noise, the simple truth is that a DUI sometimes just “happens,” and is a single mistake in judgment, not a sign or symptom of some underlying problem. This is a fact too often overlooked in the legal system, and there’s a bit of danger in that.

shit-3-300x266The court system, for its part, is essentially hard-wired to read every possible risk factor into an OWI arrest. As I’ll show later, there is an explanation for this, but it’s cold comfort for anyone who simply screws up one night and then winds up feeling treated like an out-of-control alcoholic. I always point out that success in a DUI case is best measured by what does NOT happen to you. At the end of the day, the fact remains that most people who get a DUI will learn from it, never get another, and therefore don’t need all kinds of classes and counseling.

For starters, it’s pretty much a given that everyone facing a DUI will jump up and down and say that their case “just happened.” On the other side of the coin, however, there are some Judges who are suspicious of any and all such claims. As always, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, because it has been repeatedly demonstrated fact that DUI drivers, as a group, have a statistically higher incidence of drinking problems than the population at large, meaning those people who have NOT been arrested for a DUI.

As a Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance lawyer, I provide more information about the license appeal process on this blog than can be found any and everywhere else combined. I’m proud of the more than 500 driver’s license restoration articles I have written and published on this blog. Within them, I cover every aspect of restoration and clearance cases, sometimes in downright granular detail. In this piece, I want to explain a bit about the letters of support, and why this subject comprises the leanest part of my written archives.

TYP-3-300x239First, the letters of support are a critical, and, indeed, foundational part of every license appeal. Although there is a lot that goes into a driver’s license restoration and clearance case, the 2 “pillars” of each are the substance use evaluation and the letters of support. The simple truth is that the support letters can either make, or break, a case. Among other things, they must be signed, timely notarized, and provide certain and specific information about the subject’s abstinence and/or sobriety.

Second, the letters of support must be specific to each case. As I have often pointed out in other articles, each case is unique, and if there is one place where this really comes through, it’s in the letters. Many law firms, ours included, provide every client with some kind of example letter or letters, or at least a template for their letter writers to follow. The catch is that these things are merely guidelines, and should only be used to show the kind of information that should be included within the letters.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I spend a lot of our time acquiring, analyzing, and dealing with evidence in drunk driving cases. A DUI charge is only as strong as the evidence that supports it, and is really the foundation upon which the whole case is based. If a lawyer can block the admission of any key part of the evidence in an OWI case, that can cause the whole thing to fall apart. In this brief article, I want to reiterate the importance of the evidence, its proper analysis, and how that can be used to make things better for anyone facing a drunk driving charge.

aquarius83men-2-300x261In the real world, the best possible outcome in a DUI case is to knock it out before it goes anywhere in court. While very few DUI cases actually go to trial and win (the overall percent, based on arrests for regular DUI charges, meaning OWI and OWVI, is well below 0.2% (that’s zero-point-two percent)), plenty of them do get dismissed because they do NOT survive a challenge to the evidence. This can only happen, however, if the lawyer first obtains, and then carefully analyzes the evidence, and ultimately finds something useful.

However much as one may hope there is something wrong with the evidence against him or her, the simple fact is that there either is – or there isn’t. In other words, the facts are the facts, and all the hoping and wanting in the world won’t change them. Nevertheless, it’s important that a lawyer has the ability and experience to look beyond the surface of a case, and find what others might miss. Most of the time, a successful challenge to the evidence in a DUI case is NOT based upon clumsy and obvious police mistakes, primarily because the police don’t usually screw things up like that in the first place.

As the Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer who puts out the most information about license appeals, I try to examine every aspect of the process within the more than 500 articles on this subject I have published to date. There is, however, one theme I must return to regularly, and it will be the point of this article – the fact that you must have given up drinking in order to be able to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. Being sober is the absolute key to filing a license appeal that has any chance of success.

FirstThingsFirstIn my numerous articles, I try to come at this subject from a slightly different angle each time. This time, I want my take to be “brief,” as in “short.” The bottom line in a Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals is that they are all about proving you have quit drinking for good. Of course, license appeals are complicated, but unless a person can prove that he or she has been alcohol-free for a sufficient period of time, and also has the commitment to remain alcohol-free for good, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

Indeed, the whole reason I have to bring this topic back to center-stage so often is that most people overlook this simple fact, and focus, instead, on how much they need a license, or how long they’ve gone without one. As one of the Michigan Secretary of State hearing officers puts it, “everybody needs a license.” That, however, has absolutely nothing to do with being able to win it back. No matter what a person’s circumstances, the laser-sharp focus of the state is going to zero in on when he or she last consumed alcohol (we prefer a minimum of 18 months’ abstinence to file a case) and his or her intention to never drink again.

In many of my articles about driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals, I point out that anyone who now lives out of state and can’t get or renew a license there should come back here to do a proper clearance appeal. My office requires our clients to return to Michigan to meet with us, have their evaluation completed, and then attend the actual hearing. In exchange for that, we provide a guarantee to win every license appeal case we take. In this article, I want to focus on one of the key reasons we do it this way: control.

268x0wThe idea of “control” means that we direct, oversee, and do quality assurance over every part of the process, including the planning of the appeal, getting it ready, and then ultimately, filing it. Specifically, we meet with every client for several hours prior to him or her going to the required substance use evaluation (SUE). We arrange things so that the client will meet with us first, then go directly to the evaluator’s office from ours. This makes the whole trip back to Michigan a “one and done” deal, and it allows us to guarantee a successful result, and far outweighs any inconvenience of having to come back.

Our guarantee to win stands in stark contrast to the reality of administrative, or “do-it-yourself” appeals: each year, 3 out of every 4 them, what we call an “appeal by mail,” are denied. However, rather than waste time and effort trying to talk someone out of going this route, it’s far easier for me and my team to simply say that, if you’re inclined to try an administrative appeal, then go for it. If it works out, good for you, but if it doesn’t, then call us after. As it turns out, many of our clients have done just that, and when they do contact us, they’re ready to get down to the business of actually winning.

Everybody knows that a 2nd offense DUI is a big deal, but, as I always try to make clear, it does not necessarily mean that someone is going to jail. Because people are understandably freaked out when they face an OWI 2nd offense charge, they quickly start looking online for information. Unfortunately, often enough, because basic human nature takes over, people get distracted and sucked into looking more for what they want to hear, rather than the straight truth, meaning what they need to hear.

mug15oz-whi-z1-t-oof-i-did-it-again-2-300x244This is probably most consequential in the context of a 2nd offense DUI case more than any other. Despite the competing marketing pitches of different lawyers, the real truth is that a 2nd offense straddles the polar extremes between a 1st offense and a 3rd offense. In the real world, a 1st offense can, with proper handling very often be treated as more of a “mistake” rather than anything else, while a 3rd offense, by contrast, is always perceived and should be treated as a very serious matter.

This does not simply mean that on the continuum of severity, a 2nd offense DUI is exactly at the halfway point between a 1st and 3rd offense. There are a lot of factors to be considered in evaluating how bad, or not, things are in any DUI case – things like location and the temperament of the Judge, for example. Across the various courts, different Judges have different perceptions about a 2nd offense DUI. Thus, a 2nd offense DUI can be anywhere from “not that bad” in one court to a real mess in another.

The Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) specifically provides a notice of proper ignition interlock use within every winning order it issues granting a driver’s license restoration case. These directions detail what a person should and should not do to avoid any interlock problems in the first place, as well as the steps to follow if (in the real world, this is more like “when”) some difficulty arises. Unfortunately, problems do occur rather often, and many people make things worse by calling and relying on their interlock company for guidance.

WAR-32_Read_Directions_large-300x214Of course, it seems natural to reach out to the interlock company if there’s any kind of issue, or something goes wrong while using the device. While this is an understandable reaction, it’s also exactly what one shouldn’t do, and the point I want to make in this article is that no matter what the situation, the Secretary of State’s instructions reign supreme, and that not following them, no matter who says differently or otherwise, only complicates things.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I regularly handle interlock violations, including the kinds of problems most other lawyers will never see in an entire career. We’re certainly as close to having “seen it all” as possible, and that means we frequently see the same mistakes being made over and over again. Although we consider it part and parcel of our services to help our clients after we’ve won their license appeals, this kind of assistance isn’t offered by every other lawyer, and as I noted above, no matter who the lawyer may be it’s a nearly instinctive reaction to call the interlock company first, as soon as something goes amiss.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at how, at a certain point, some people get a nagging little feeling and have thoughts that something might be wrong with their drinking. Often, this happens after something like a DUI, or, worse yet, after multiple DUI’s have caused someone to have his or her driver’s license revoked and they grow tired of having to bum rides or risk driving without a valid license. Some people dismiss these though outright, rationalizing away any connection between their drinking and the problems they have experienced as a result.

download-6The best thing that can happen to a person experiencing problems with alcohol is getting to the point where he or she does see a connection between their drinking and many (or all) of the problems in their life, and then decide to do something about it. As I pointed out in the first part of this article, most people start off by trying to cut down or otherwise manage their drinking. Although this strategy never works, it is the failure of those attempts that provides exactly the lesson some people need to help them move to the next step – the decision to give up alcohol altogether.

In the real world, the decision to quit drinking never comes too soon. It usually follows a lot of time wasted unsuccessfully trying to control one’s drinking. Of course, just as some people are stuck in denial and just don’t believe that their drinking has grown troublesome, others get stuck in endless attempts to manage and limit it. It really is the luckiest of all who are able to reach the conclusion that the only way to “control” one’s drinking is to simply quit.