In my role as a Michigan DUI lawyer, examining the evidence is a critical step in every drunk driving (OWI) case I handle.  Can you imagine a doctor or dentist treating a patient without first conducting a thorough examination?  It’s essentially the same thing for a lawyer to properly (emphasis on proper) represent someone facing a DUI charge.  As much as any doctor, dentist or lawyer will want to know what the problem is, he or she will also want to know what it is not.  In the context of a DUI arrest, a driver’s contact with the police and what follows, including the stop (was the car, in fact, swerving?  Did it cross the yellow line?  Did the driver commit some other traffic infraction?), the field sobriety tests, and the arrest itself aren’t just important to the case, they essentially make up the case.  As a result, it is standard practice in my office to obtain and review the video evidence in almost every drinking and driving case that crosses my desk.  In this short article, I want to make clear why it’s always prudent to obtain and review the police car dash-cam video.

Copper-2As a general rule, there is never a good reason to NOT get a copy of the in-car police video.  Many “cut rate” legal operations and court appointed lawyers skip this step, principally because they don’t have enough time to do it, especially for what they’re (often not) paid.  Bargain, flat-fee law offices make their money on the quick turnover of cases, and court appointed lawyers are expected to wrap up a case in just a few minutes after meeting their assigned client in court.  When you hire a good lawyer, however, you should be paying for him or her to do everything necessary to insure the best outcome in your case without wasting time or money on things that won’t.  Reviewing the dash cam video is always the smart thing to do.  Moreover, even in those cases (the majority of them, really) where the dash-cam video does not reveal some catastrophic police mistake that will get the case tossed out of court, or otherwise demonstrate the the driver was not over the legal limit, just knowing that to be the case provides clarity and removes any doubt as to the best way to proceed.

Sometimes the dash-cam video can lay a golden egg, and be used as the basis to challenge the evidence.  Whatever else, DUI cases don’t dismiss themselves, and one thing is for sure: you will never find a reason for a case to be “knocked out” without looking for it, first.  The mindset with which the evidence is approached has a lot to do with this.  If you watched almost any DUI dash-cam video with the instruction to find confirmation or evidence that the subject was driving drunk, you’d probably find some.  Because you were focused on confirming something, you would almost automatically overlook anything that indicated the contrary.  This is known as “conformation bias.”  As a DUI lawyer, I have to assume a contrary conformation bias perspective, namely, that my client did NOT do anything wrong, or anything too wrong, and that if his or her performance on any of the field sobriety tests was something less than optimal, there is a good and rational explanation for it.  Even approaching these videos with an “open mind” isn’t good enough; they have to be watched with an eye to finding those things that help the client.

A substantial portion of my driver’s license restoration practice involved obtaining the clearance of a Michigan hold on someone’s driving record that prevents him or her from getting a license in another state.  The very same evidence is submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) for both a clearance and a driver’s license restoration appeal.  Although just about everyone (understandably) wonders about doing an administrative review, often called an “appeal by mail,” most learn that 3 out of every 4 such cases lose, and that a person will have to wait a whole year before he or she can file again.  Those with better luck read and understand this before they try, while the less fortunate have to find out the hard way.  The simple truth is that the best and surest way to win a clearance of the Michigan hold on your driving record is to do a full appeal and come back for a hearing.  For my part, I put my money where my mouth is, because when I take a license clearance and restoration appeal case, I guarantee to win it.

Mitt-276x300There are several reasons why I will only handle these cases for clients who come back to Michigan, despite endless offers to hire me for help with these ill-fated and ever-doomed administrative reviews.  The first is control.  When a client hires me, I control every part of the case, from the preparation to the evidence to the hearing itself.   My clients will go my evaluator to have his or her substance abuse evaluation (technically, it’s called a “substance use evaluation,” but everyone alive calls it a “substance abuse evaluation,” so we’ll just go along with that) completed.  The first meeting with a new client takes about 3 hours in my office, and takes place prior to the evaluation.  In fact, the main point of that meeting is to prepare the client for the evaluation.  If someone wants to have an evaluation completed by some unknown person in another state, I have absolutely no control over any part of that process.  Beyond my input, it takes a LOT of time and effort for a substance abuse counselor to learn to complete the evaluation in the way the hearing officers of the Michigan Secretary of State’s administrative hearing section expect.  Although just about any clinician can look at the form and figure he or she can complete it, there are literally countless little things that are not obvious and that are learned either by direct instruction or, as is usually the case, by getting it wrong the first time.

The reader needs to understand that a winning license appeal takes a lot of experienced effort.  There are no shortcuts to doing things right.  As a driver’s license restoration lawyer, this cannot be done by just sending someone out to “get” an evaluation and then looking things over (including the critically important letters of support) to make sure they’re good enough.  I have to spend the time with and learn about my clients recovery, meaning his or her transition from drinker to non-drinker, at our first meeting.  I also have to try and summarize that whole story within the paperwork I create.  As it goes, every client leaves my office with a packet of information to give to the evaluator, including a form of my own creation called a “Substance Abuse Evaluation Checklist,” a specially marked-up copy of his or her driving record, and any other documents that need to be reviewed by the evaluator before the evaluation is completed.  This is part of that control I have when the client comes to my office first, and then goes to see my evaluator.  It is NOT the evaluator’s job to read your driving record, figure out your conviction history and learn the most details of your recovery story that would be most relevant to the hearing officer.  Instead, it is MY job to make sure that this information is clearly presented to my evaluator, and I do exactly that because of the control I exercise and maintain over the case.

In the course of every DUI case that goes through the court system, and before ever being sentenced by the Judge, a person must, by law, complete a mandatory written alcohol screening test and meet with a probation officer for an information-gathering interview.  The results of that screening test (it is calculated using a numerical scoring system) and probation interview are used to prepare a sentencing recommendation (this too, is required by law) that is sent to the Judge to be used in deciding exactly what sentence to hand out.  In the real world, this step is THE most important part of a drunk driving case because it directly impacts what will happen to you more than anything else.  Accordingly, being prepared for both the written screening and the probation interview is critical to producing the best outcome possible.  In my DUI practice we’ll spend several hours (at least) in preparation for this, including having a separate appointment and prep session a few days before you go for your interview with the probation officer.  Among the herd of DUI lawyers, I am uniquely qualified to help with this, having studied and worked with alcohol and drug issues for over 2 decades as well as having completed a formal University post-graduate program of addiction studies.  The development, diagnosis, treatment of and recovery from addiction disorders is at the core of everything I do, every single day.

Tester-2-300x265Preparation for the alcohol screening test begins at our very first meeting.  I typically use about an hour at that first appointment to going over (or, as I say, introducing) the questions you’ll be answering because I believe this information is best absorbed by being presented twice; initially at that first meeting, and then again, typically at our second office appointment right before you go in for the meeting with probation.  This whole process of alcohol screening and meeting with probation is variously referred to an assessment, a PSI (for pre-sentence investigation), and/or a screening.  Whatever it’s called, it refers to the procedure and process wherein a person completes the written alcohol screening test (to confuse matters more, the testing instrument itself is sometimes called a “substance abuse assessment”), meets with, provides information to, and is also interviewed by the probation officer.  All of this is used to formulate that written sentencing recommendation given to the Judge.  It is a critical mistake to allow the client to take the screening test and/or walk into that probation meeting without having gone over everything in order to make sure he or she is thoroughly prepared.

Perhaps the biggest and most common miscalculation I see lawyers make is assuming that, when they speak at the sentencing, they can somehow convince the Judge NOT to follow the probation department’s recommendation in some significant way.  It doesn’t work like that; it never has, and it never will.  When you walk into court on the day of sentencing, your lawyer is required to get a copy of the sentencing recommendation from the court clerk and review it with you.  In fact, the Judge will specifically ask if you’ve seen the recommendation, and if there are any errors within it that need to be corrected.  Later, you and your lawyer will be asked for any comments about the recommendation itself.  This is more a formality rather than anything else, because in the real world, pretty much every Judge, in every court, follows the recommendation, if not to the very letter, then damn close to it.  To put it another way, the sentencing recommendation is really the blueprint for what’s going to happen to you, and there is simply no Judge who is going to disregard any substantial part of it.  This means, then, that the best and only real chance you have to influence what’s recommended, and, in turn, to affect what ultimately happens to you, is to be prepped and ready for the screening and the probation interview.  It is a fool’s errand, really, to just show up in court and start arguing against the recommendation as it sits in the Judge’s hands.  That’s no better than pissing in the wind.  Indeed, if you are not carefully readied for the whole PSI process, then you are stumbling blindly through your DUI case without any kind of plan.

In the drunk driving world, it has long been established that, as a group, DUI offenders have a higher incidence of drinking problems that the population at large.  As a Michigan DUI lawyer, an important part of my job is to protect my clients from being perceived as having a problem that isn’t there, particularly in light of the court system’s inherent “alcohol bias” that looks for (and all too often finds) one.  The fact remains, however, that the percentage of DUI drivers who present with a troubled relationship to alcohol is higher than average.  In other words, for plenty of people facing a DUI, their drinking has become problematic.  Many people in this situation don’t know what to do, or are struggling with the very idea that something is wrong.  It is not uncommon for a person to have a feeling in his or her heart of hearts – a “gut feeling” – that something isn’t quite right, but the first instinct is to promise one’s self to get hold of it, and to fix it somehow.  In this blog article I want to keep a simple focus on the concept of coming to realize that your relationship to drinking is precarious after a drinking and driving arrest.  We’ll skip the drama, all the “how to” advice on getting help and everything else, and just look at how one begins to open up enough to start thinking about this.  For my part, I bring a special skill set to this discussion beyond merely being a DUI lawyer.  Academically, I have completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies, so I am well aware of all the modern research and theories regarding the diagnosis and treatment of alcohol problems.  I also know that, while I understand the clinical side of things, I am NOT a clinician, so I won’t try and play therapist.  My role, in that sense, is to listen and help “counsel” my clients, and see that they are directed to the right kind of help, whatever that may be (and is often NOT what any court has in mind).

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2017/04/Wino-1.2.jpgRecently, a client sent this wonderful email message to me:  On another note, I thought long and hard about the conversation that I had with you in your office in January. I had to do some major introspection and be brutally honest with myself about what occurred that put me in this situation.  It is not something that I am going sweep under the rug when this case is over. I have attended weekly AA meetings at my local church and it has been very helpful. (I have attended ten meetings and I have the signed document from the meetings to verify.) I am going to AA for my own needs and I plan on continuing to do so regardless of what the court might order me to do. I wanted you to know. Your insight was a big part of my coming to that decision. You are truly are a counselor in the best sense of the word.”  For everything I do as a lawyer, this is the very finest kind of return or reward I can get.  There is no money nor any praise that can equal the feeling of knowing that you’ve been really able to help someone pierce the darkness and see a little hope.  It’s this kind of “light bulb” moment is a person’s life that I want to talk about in this article.

There’s an old saying that “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”  In my line of work, I hear from all kinds of amateur lawyers who’ve spent endless hours on the internet doing their own legal research and somehow think they have the whole legal system figured out.  If there’s one thing I know about counseling and treatment for troublesome drinking, it’s that everyone is different, and while something like AA may be the best fit for one person, it can the exact opposite for another.  Similarly, one person my thrive in group therapy, while the very thought of that may terrify someone else.  There are people who do well with something called “bibliotherapy” (don’t worry, “biblio” means book, not bible), which means learning about recovery from one’s own reading.  My role is to help the client who is contemplating his or her relationship to alcohol, or who has already concluded that it has become problematic, to understand that there is a whole universe of recovery options out there.  In terms of first things first, it’s not about picking the right one as much as it is about ruling out those that hold no appeal.  It is the job of the therapist to apply, handle and monitor things from there.

The other day, I was in a local Oakland County court for a DUI case and found myself in the company of a bunch of rather well-know, top-shelf lawyers, several of whom were also there to handle drunk driving charges, as well.  I looked around and noticed that the most of the people in the courtroom did not look like the crowd that would be be using court-appointed or bargain priced lawyers.  Although the usual socio-economic cross section of people showing up to deal with a drinking and driving charge usually runs the gamut from low to high-income, this was definitely a more well-heeled crowd.  As I thought about the somewhat unusual experience of seeing so many good lawyers in one courtroom at the same time, I realized that this particular group of DUI driver’s had the means to hire “up” and find some relief in knowing that they’d be taken care of in the best possible way.  Busy people with a lot to lose need an attorney they can trust to take care of everything and produce the best possible outcome.  This should really be the goal of everyone facing a drinking and driving case, and is certainly the expectation of anyone stepping up to hire a blue-chip DUI lawyer.

ItsAllTakenCareOf-2As individuals go, there are some who are very much “detail people.”  I am certainly one, and I certainly attract a lot of them to my practice by doing things like publishing this blog with 2 new articles each week.  I get into and discuss details to the very ends of reasonableness.  There are some things that are just too much to explain and too legalistic or technical for the layman to really grasp, so I don’t venture that far in my various analysis.  For a real-life example of what I mean, as I write this, my own vehicle is at the dealership undergoing a warranty repair for an oil leak of some kind discovered when I brought it in for an oil change.  The service manager took me into the garage to show me the how things looked while my vehicle was up on the hoist, and the mechanic gave me a general explanation of what went wrong and the needed repair, but he didn’t explain which part they were going to remove first, how they were going to clean and repair the various parts, and then how the new part or parts would be installed and everything put back together.  That’s just too much information, and it goes way over my  head.  I trust the dealership to know what to do, and I go to them because I want to turn my vehicle over to someone who can just take care of everything for me.  I appreciate the security of knowing that I’m in good hands.  So, in the same way, should anyone who puts in the effort to find and hire a top-shelf DUI lawyer.

Exactly where to draw the line with that really depends on the client.  Given my personality, and in my role as a DUI lawyer, I cannot help but also be an explainer.  I’ve never been the kind who just takes someone’s money and then says “here’s the deal.”  Instead, I like to have an informed client who understand exactly what we’re doing along the way.  In fact, plenty of people retain me over the phone (it’s kind of easy to get to “know” me through all of my writings) and I make it a point to get them into my office as soon as feasible so we can go over the details of their case.  Some people, however, need a lot more of my time and have a lot more questions than others, and that’s okay, because I really am the right guy for that.  I have been incredibly successful at this long enough to be able to indulge those whom might test another lawyer’s patience to the limit while also making sure that even the most unconcerned person gets a full understanding of what we’re doing.  That requires a fair balance of diplomacy and strength because it basically means, on the one hand, telling someone who is asking ridiculous questions that enough is enough, while on the other hand, getting and holding the attention of the person who figures that his or her required participation ends by handing me money.  And it’s not that I feel “special” for this, because when you think about it, these are essential, if not really minimum qualifications of a good lawyer.

Every day, and probably due in large part to this blog, my office is contacted by lots of people who need to win back their driver’s license.  In this short article, I want to strip away all the complex rules and procedures involved in the license restoration and clearance process and look at the single, core issue that is central to every license appeal – drinking.  If I was asked to explain what driver’s license restoration and clearances were all about in one sentence, I’d say this: To make sure someone convicted of multiple DUI’s can prove that her or she has not had a drink for a few years and has the commitment and tools to never drink again.  That’s the real “meat and potatoes” of it all.

98449071-300x249Everything about losing your license and then getting it back has to do with drinking.  To those who have not truly quit and believe they can safely indulge in adult beverages, the Secretary of State’s requirement that a person prove he or she has been completely abstinent and will remain alcohol-free seems like an obsession.  On the flip side, however, it also seems like an obsession that a person who has lost his or her license for multiple drunk driving convictions is still worried about being able to drink.  Believe me, I’ve heard every argument there is and I’m numb to them all because – and this is the big thing – the deal is that you will never qualify to get your license back until you’ve given up alcohol for good.  I understand how people feel about this, although, truth be told, I side with the state on this one.  The folks who are the best risk to never drink and drive again are those who don’t drink at all.  Opening the door even a little to believe someone who swears that his or her drinking is now under control can never be made to sound like a good idea, not even for a minute.

A long time ago, before I had hundreds and hundreds of driver’s license restoration articles published on my blog (the number stands at over 370 as of this writing), I was probably a bit harder to find on the internet.  A consequence of my consistent writing on this subject is that, to the person searching just about anything related to a Michigan license restoration or clearance issues, I come up pretty highly ranked, and, if you click on any of my stuff, it doesn’t take long to figure out that I’ve written more than just about everyone else combined.  I’m actually proud of that, and believe that as much expertise as I have, the very act of researching and explaining everything logically has made me a better lawyer, as well.  The problem, though, is that many people will automatically find me and conclude that “he’s the guy,” call me, and think that just by offering to pay my fee, they can get back on the road.  It doesn’t work that way.  Sure, I guarantee to win every case I take, but, I ONLY TAKE CASES FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE HONESTLY STOPPED DRINKING.  That’s not a bunch of hot air on my part, either, it’s the whole point of a license appeal, and it is the reason I won’t get involved in a case for anyone who is not genuinely committed to remaining sober.

Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) is one of the most common criminal charges you’ll find in the courts, particularly in the Metro-Detroit area of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties.  In a very real way, these cases are also the easiest money-makers for the court system.  Because DWLS and DWLR (Driving While License Revoked) charges are misdemeanor criminal matters, they deserve to be taken seriously; certainly, the possibility of forever having a criminal conviction stuck on your record is worth the effort to avoid that in the first place.  From my perspective (I’m in court for up to 20 cases in a typical week, so I wind up handling a lot of suspended license cases), these matters are sometimes over-hyped by lawyers who use “fear based” marketing techniques, while other times overlooked by both lawyers and the public alike because actually going to jail is highly unlikely except for multiple, repeat offenders.  To that last point, there is one local court, however, where the chance going to jail for a DWLS is disproportionately higher than anywhere else.  What good is a rule, after all, without an exception?  At any rate, the main point I want to make in this article looks beyond jail, and has to do with the impact of a misdemeanor conviction upon a person’s record, and how a DWLS in particular can turn out to be a real pain.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2017/04/girls-pulled-over-2.0.jpgThis really hits home when someone finds out he or she could likely have avoided a DWLS or DWLR conviction with a little good lawyering.  To be perfectly honest, a misdemeanor conviction for a suspended license charge is not likely to derail anyone’s career path, unless the person had ambitions to be an ambulance, limousine or school bus driver.  Even so, it seems foolish to allow one’s self to be put in the position to answer “yes” to a question on a job application or background investigation form that asks something like, “Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense?”  This could also delay an application for a professional license, even though it would certainly not stand as an obstacle to ultimately obtaining it.  Because there’s any significant cost to hiring a good lawyer to keep your record clean, there really is no reason to not handle a DWLS case properly.

In many of my other suspended and revoked license articles on this blog, I note that there are really 2 kinds of people who wind up facing these charges: 1., Those whose license is suspended or revoked because a DUI conviction, and 2., everybody else.  Make no mistake, it’s always better to be part of the “everybody else” crowd.  When a person has his or her license suspended for failure to pay a ticket, it’s usually due to an oversight, or maybe the budget was tight for a while.  A DUI, however, carries certain consequences, including suspension or restriction of a person’s ability to drive, and when a person gets caught driving despite a suspension or revocation, it can be perceived as if he or she is giving the middle finger to the law.  For my part, I certainly know how to navigate around this perception and spare my client’s record, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that, as a starting point, driving on a license that has been suspended or revoked for drunk driving doesn’t look very good.

Recently, I published an article about how location matters in drunk driving (OWI) cases.  Because I generally limit my DUI practice to the Tri-County area, I am in front of the same Judges in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties all the time.  In this short piece, I want to take a look at drinking and driving cases in the various Wayne County courts, and the 4 things you should know about them.  To be clear, a driving over the legal limit charge is a violation of state law, or a corresponding local ordinance (this means that it’s the same thing), so it’s not like a DUI in one place is any more or less of a crime than it is in another, but make no mistake, location is probably the most important single aspect of how a drinking and driving case will ultimately work out.  Still, as a DUI lawyer, the first question I ask anyone when the subject of a DUI comes up is, “Where?”

detroit-county-map-1First, none of the district courts in Wayne County, from Harper Woods in the northeast to Plymouth/Canton in the Northwest, Woodhaven in the southeast to Romulus in the southwest, and points in-between, like Westland, Livonia, Wyandotte, Dearborn, are especially difficult places.  The Judges in all these courts are genuinely decent people, and that makes them welcoming to a DUI lawyer like me.  In the northern suburbs, you’ll often hear conspiratorial whispers about this or that Judge being especially “tough,” but fortunately, none of that is really true for any of the Wayne County district courts.  That’s not to say that these Judges are in any sense “easy” on DUI cases, but it does mean that there are no horror stories about the Judge from Hell to contend with here, either.

One of the best things about the Judges in the various Wayne County district courts is that they are generally “down to earth.”  I certainly always feel at home in these courts, although perhaps I just identify well with the prevailing mentality here, having myself been born and raised in Wayne County, on Detroit’s east side.  More important than how I feel, though, is how things work out for the client, and I can honestly say that I have seen some of the best “judging” take place within the various courts in Wayne County.  It’s a big county, and there are definitely different “vibes” depending on the location.  The Grosse Pointes (City, Farms, Park, Shores and Woods), for example, are very different than the Downriver area, and both are as different to places like Dearborn and Dearborn Heights as they all are to Western Wayne County.  Still, there is, fortunately, a cohesive “decentness” about all of these courts that means if you wind up facing a DUI anywhere within Wayne County, you’re doing pretty good, all things considered.

As a Michigan criminal and DUI lawyer, I am contacted all the time by people facing something like a drunk driving, suspended license or possession of marijuana charge and are worried about the upcoming date on their citation.  In this very short article, I merely want to explain what this means and help the reader understand that, for the most part, and despite what it may seem like, the date on your ticket is most often NOT any kind of fixed “court date.”  This is very relevant to those who contact me after something like a DUI arrest. worried about getting an appointment right away and saying something like, “My court date is next Tuesday.”  To be sure, every criminal case begins with a first court date called an arraignment.  I’ve written extensively about that, and would encourage the reader interested in a detailed examination of what that proceeding is all about to read the linked articles.  Here, we’ll look at arraignments in more superficial terms of its position in the larger picture of a criminal or DUI case and how it gets started.

imagesSometimes, a person is brought before a Judge or Magistrate for arraignment while he or she is in custody after an arrest.  This can be done by video or by actually having the person come into a courtroom.  If you’ve already done that, then you can skip this article entirely.  For everyone else, imagine your notice to appear or instruction to otherwise contact the court (this can be on the ticket, on a separate piece of paper, like a bond receipt, or just be something the police tell you as you’re released) in the way you’d think of an email confirmation to register with a website; once you confirm your contact details, then all relevant notifications can be sent to the right place.  Before you wonder what the hell that means, let’s look at one of the most common situations following an OWI arrest: A person is released with a ticket that arises them to appear in court “on or before” a certain date, or to contact the court within so many days.  If the person just picks up the phone and calls the court, many times, the clerk will simply confirm the person’s address and then tell him or her that notice of when to appear will be sent.  That notice can be for something called an arraignment, a pre-trial date, or a combined arraigment/pre-trial; the details don’t matter as much as the fact that all a person needs to do is call the court to find out what to do next, and much of the time, he or she will be told to just wait for something in the mail.

In some cases a person is given a date to appear for an arraignment.  The short explanation of the arraignment is that it is a proceeding in which a person is formally told the exact charge(s) against him or her ( e.g., Operating While Intoxicated), advised of his or her constitutional rights (“You have the right to a lawyer…”), and given conditions of bond (“Do not leave the state without the court’s permission…” etc.).  For those released from lockup without posting any money, a bond amount (usually a few hundred dollars, at most) may be required, as well.  In many courts, depending on the charge, that arraignment can be “waived” by a lawyer so that a person does not need to go.  When a lawyer files the papers to waive an arraignment, a “not guilty” plea will automatically be entered for him or her, and the person and the lawyer will await a notice from the court to show up for what’s called a “pre-trial” date, where discussions about resolving the case are had between the lawyer and the prosecutor.

In my capacity as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I guarantee to win every case I take.  To make that happen, I will only take a case for someone who has honestly quit drinking.  It has never been my goal to compete with any other lawyer on price, or really at any level, beyond striving to be the very best in my field.  I don’t just “do” license clearance and restoration appeals – they are the very focus of my practice.  This goes hand in hand with my deep, 25-plus year interest in the addiction and alcohol issues, so much so that a number of years ago, I went back to the University classroom and completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies so that I might formally sharpen my clinical knowledge and expertise in things like how people recover from problems with alcohol and drugs.  Whatever else, I understand addiction and recovery from every angle – from the inside looking out, the outside looking in, and from the clinical side and the legal side, as well.  In the course of any given month, I appear and conduct (and win) more license appeal hearings before the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) than most lawyers will ever handle in the course of their entire career.

1c0242dI don’t check other lawyer’s prices, but I have been told that my fees are higher than some others.  While I try to keep my fees reasonable, I believe that I am the poster-boy for the idea that you get what you pay for.  And to be clear, there are some lawyers who charge more than I do, although I can honestly say that many times, I’ve been called in to clean up after some of those guys have lost a case, thus proving the idea that while you never get what you don’t pay for, just paying a lot doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best; instead, it just means you paid too much.  When it comes to winning back your driver’s license, you must understand that there is an additional cost to losing beyond the money.  If you lose your appeal, you cannot file another for a full year.  Beyond that, you’ll have to fix all the mistakes that caused you to lose the first time.  At least with me, a client has the certainty of knowing that they’ll only pay me once and they will get back on the road.

The quality of service from my office is on a whole different level than what I suspect anyone else provides.  In general, I think a lot of the hype around “better service” is a bunch of BS.  When I order something online, I’m concerned about service only to the extent that the right product (meaning one that matches the description I relied upon in placing it) is sent to me quickly and correctly.  I don’t care if my order is processed by a robot, some guy in a tank top and shorts, or some guy in a tuxedo and white gloves.  License restoration cases, however, are different.   My first meeting with a new client takes about 3 hours (often, a bit more) in my office.  And let me be perfectly candid: I’m a really nice guy and consider my practice an opportunity to help people, but I’m still in business to make money, so I don’t keep these appointments long just so we can talk baseball, or anything like that.  In that same way, as far as my guarantee goes, I don’t make my money having to re-do a case a second time; I make my money winning them the first time, meaning I’m as invested in a successful outcome as my client.  I am thorough in a way that takes time.  There are no shortcuts to lasting success.