As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I handle well over 200 driver’s license appeal matters every year. The substance use evaluation (often mistakenly called a “substance abuse evaluation”) is a required part of every restoration and clearance case, and having literally worked with thousands of them, we know what makes an evaluation good, and what kind of information it should (and should not) contain. In this article, we’ll look at the absolutely critical role of the substance use evaluation (SUE) in license appeal cases.

Eval-2-300x285A lot of people who ultimately hire us do so after having either lost a “do-it-yourself” appeal, or after having lost with some lawyer who didn’t specifically concentrate in this area of the law, like our firm does. We guarantee to win every case we take, but in order to do that, we also make sure that we only accept cases that can be made into winners. Accordingly, one of the first things we do when anyone calls us after having previously lost is to carefully screen him or her, and, if his or her case seems promising, then obtain and review the Secretary of State’s order denying their case.

Very often, those orders cite the evaluation that was filed as a key reason for the losing decision. The simple fact is that a good evaluation is necessary in order to win To be sure, there is a lot that goes into a proper SUE. Among other things, it must always be accurate, complete, favorable, and, of course, legally sufficient. It’s basically a requirement that the evaluator not only has experience doing them for driver’s license appeal cases, but has also worked closely with driver’s license restoration lawyers in order to know exactly what to include within the document.

This article is going to examine what happens to your driver’s license as the result any 1st offense Michigan DUI conviction. Here, we’ll be focusing specifically on 1st offense cases, and we’ll look at what happens among the various and different first offense charges. Unlike many of the longer, 2-part articles found on this blog, we’ll keep this piece to one installment for simplicity’s sake. Although this subject can get complex, we’re going to boil it down to something simple and easy to understand.

Tow2-300x290License penalties for DUI convictions are set by law, and there is a whole, broad scheme of what happens as the result of every kind of DUI conviction. If that’s not enough, there is another entire panorama of other license sanctions that can, and sometimes must be imposed in addition to and on top of any DUI license penalty. Each one of these runs on its own line, like parallel but separate tracks, except when they cross, and then one takes priority over the other. The “why” and “how” of all of this can get confusing, but with a little patience, it can be untangled, as we’re about to do now.

First, let’s reiterate that our target subject is 1st offense DUI cases. For as much as there is to DUI license sanctions in general, by limiting our inquiry only to 1st offenses and skipping over 2nd and 3rd offense cases, we will cut out more half of the confusion. Toward the end of this installment, we’ll look at how another, fairly common relevant license sanction interacts with DUI license penalties, but will forego any analysis of those issues for now in order to keep things straightforward.

The single most important thing needed in every Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case is sobriety. However, merely being sober isn’t enough, because in order to win a license appeal, a person must also be able to prove his or her sobriety as required by the Michigan Secretary of State. This is really important for anyone looking to get his or her driver’s license back, because it means that, absent adequate proof of sobriety, he or she cannot succeed, no matter how much they may “need” a license, or how much money they are willing to spend. another way, a person can’t just “buy” a license. In Michigan, the restoration of driving privileges is earned. A lot of people mistakenly think that not having been in any trouble for a long time, or not having had a license for many years is important. To be clear, none of those things matter at all. The only thing that will win a license appeal is proof that a person has quit drinking – meaning that he or she has been completely alcohol-free for a legally sufficient period of time – and that he or she has the ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free for life, meaning permanently.

This blog, which, as of this writing, has over 625 highly detailed and informational articles specifically about the Michigan driver’s license appeal process, is updated with 2 new installments weekly. In that sense, more than having written the book about license appeals, I’ve managed to fill a whole library. By looking around here, the reader will find far more information about driver’s license restoration and clearance cases than can be found any and everywhere else combined. Because sobriety is so critical to a license appeal, though, this topic has to be brought up regularly, and is the subject of more of those articles than anything else.

In our roles as Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I answer a lot of questions, and we ask a lot, as well. One of the most important we always have is about a person’s BAC (bodily alcohol content) results. It is, without exception, one of the first things we ask any potential client with whom we speak, and is usually the very first thing that every prosecutor or Judge wants to know about anyone facing a DUI charge. As a general rule, a person’s BAC result will have a greater impact on his or her case – at every stage – than any other single factor.

vectorstock_697621-285x300This goes well beyond the difference between a regular DUI charge (technically, the offense is called “OWI,” or “Operating While Intoxicated,” the actual legal term in Michigan for what everyone just refers to as “DUI”), and the more serious “super-drunk” or “High BAC” charge of Operating While Intoxicated with a BAC of .17 or more. Ever since the introduction of chemical testing, a person’s BAC result has been viewed as the measure of how drunk he or she was at the time of his or her arrest. Of course, a lower BAC result is always better, because, no matter what, it just never looks good to have been really, really drunk.

In the real world, things just tend to get “worse” the higher a person’s BAC result measures. For those who deal with DUI cases all the time, a BAC result communicates as much information about a person’s level of intoxication as a temperature forecast does to someone on vacation who wants to know if it will be a good day to go to the beach. Knowing it’s going to be 66 (or 86) degrees tomorrow is as telling to a hopeful beachgoer as the knowledge that a person’s breath or blood test result was .10 (or .22) when he or she was arrested is to the anyone involved in his or her DUI case.

In part 1 of this article about Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, we took up the idea that the new year is a great time for new beginnings, and that among the best things a person can do to get off to a fresh start is win back the reinstatement of his or her driving privileges. Timing, as the saying goes, is everything, and it has always been the case that people at least think about making changes for the new year.  It’s a time for new beginnings, and few things could provide a better fresh start than being able to drive again, legally.

GDL2-300x262There is an irony here, though, because anyone who even thinks of celebrating the new year with a toast of alcohol is miles away from being able to win back his or her license.  It’s a simple fact that people who don’t drink are exactly zero risk to drive while intoxicated.  Accordingly, the whole goal of the process required by the Michigan Secretary of State is to make sure that anyone who ever does get back on the road won’t drive drunk again, and that’s done by only restoring driver’s licenses for those people who do NOT drink at all.

Unfortunately, a lot of people, including some lawyers who claim to “do” license appeals, miss this critical point.  As we noted in part 1, it doesn’t matter how much someone needs a license, how long they haven’t had one, how long they’ve stayed out of trouble, nor is it of any consequence that they’ve completed their DUI sentence.  In the context of a driver’s license restoration or clearance case, the only thing that matters is that a person has honestly quit drinking, and has both the commitment and the tools necessary to stay sober for the rest of his or her life.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, there is one New Year’s resolution that we love to help people with – getting back on the road again. A new year is the right time for a new beginning, and there are few better ways to start off than through regaining one’s independence by being able to drive, and not having to rely on other people to get around. There is an irony to this, however, because in order to be able to celebrate a license appeal victory, a person will have had learn how to “celebrate” New Years while sober, and without alcohol.

hgf-300x284Ultimately, every person who has lost his or her license after racking up multiple DUI’s is going to have to decide what is more important in life: continuing to drink, or a life without alcohol, and being able to do things like drive again. Once a person has had his or her driver’s license revoked for drunk driving, he or she can’t have both. By law, a person can’t win a license appeal unless he or she has been completely abstinent from alcohol and drugs for a “legally sufficient” period of time (more on that later) and can also demonstrate the ability and commitment to remain clean and sober for life.

It’s a given that everyone whose license has been taken away wants it back. The catch, however, is that the only people who can actually win it back are those who have honestly given up drinking and have what it takes to remain completely abstinent for life. For these people, there is no New Year’s resolution bigger than the one they made when they finally quit drinking. The decision to quit, though, always comes about after a lot of thought, and regrets, and always follows any number of failed attempts to cut down, control, or otherwise limit one’s drinking.

In our roles as Michigan DUI lawyers, we have seen just about every reason a person has been pulled over by or otherwise encountered the police prior to a drunk driving arrest. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise to learn that cell-phone call-ins and tips have grown to play a significant role in DUI enforcement. Sometimes, people don’t know how the police came upon them, only for us to discover, after we obtain the police report and any relevant video, that another driver provided a cell-phone “tip” about someone (them) driving erratically, and possibly being drunk.

cop2-266x300To call the law completely “settled” regarding cell-phone tips may be a bit of an overstatement, but as it stands now, there is little doubt that the police can pull someone over based upon such information if it is otherwise sufficiently reliable. This piece won’t examine the subtle nuances of the law, as any discussion of the technical legalities goes well beyond its scope. It is a critical for a DUI lawyer to carefully examine all the evidence, and to make sure that, when a client gets pulled over, whether because the police observed something or as the result of a cell-phone tip, there was a sufficient legal basis and that analysis must always be done in each and every case.

Above and beyond the legal implications of a DUI arrest following a cell-phone tip, there is also a practical consideration, at least from a societal (and, of course, the court’s) perspective, because it can be fairly said that anyone drunk enough to catch the attention of other drivers and motivate them to call the police was probably pretty drunk. Even if it turns out that a person wasn’t drunk, but was all over the road because he or she was distracted by texting, then it’s not a bad thing for him or her to get pulled over for being a dangerous driver. In the context of a DUI case, though, the idea that someone was obviously unable to drive in a normal manner is a complicating factor.

In part 1 of this article, we began an examination of how and why people who lose a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal after trying on their own, or with some lawyer who doesn’t concentrate in them, and what can be done following such a loss. We began by acknowledging the reality that people get denied because their cases simply weren’t good enough. Although being sober is THE foundational requirement to win a license appeal, a person also has to prove his or her sobriety as required by the main rule governing the restoration process.

Suc234-295x300Most of the time, when someone contacts our firm and wonders why they lost their case, it’s because he or she didn’t adequately prove their sobriety, and often enough, that kind of proof is rather obviously missing  – at least to those of us who do license appeals for a living. What’s more, this is true even if the person really IS sober. Remember, while being sober is the main requirement in a license appeal case, really being able to prove that sobriety by what the law defines as “clear and convincing evidence” is the key to actually winning it. Accordingly, any kind of “close call” simply isn’t good enough to win.

It’s important to bear in mind that pursuant to the main license appeal rule (set out in the part 1), the Secretary of State hearing officers are specifically directed to NOT issue a license unless a person proves his or her case by what is specified as “clear and convincing evidence.” That’s the highest standard in civil law, and although it is close to, it is not quite as high as the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” standard required to convict someone of a criminal offense. That said, it’s certainly close enough to be able to say that satisfying either standard pretty much equates to hitting a home run.

In our role as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I are contacted every day by people whose cases have recently been denied. Many of those who call us are “do-it-yourselfers” who live here, in Michigan, while others live out of state and took a shot at an administrative appeal on their own. Some even had hired a lawyer (NOT us), but no matter what, these callers all have one thing in common: They lost. Once they receive the notice of their denial, the first thing they all want to know is if there is anything that can be done to fix whatever went wrong.

Dse43-300x258While the answer is a definite “maybe,” what’s even more important is the reality that, in the overwhelming majority of cases that are denied, something did, indeed, go wrong with how the case was prepared, handled, and/or presented. We’ll break down who can “appeal” a loss, and how, later in this article, but for now, what’s more important is to take a step back and recognize that, with very few exceptions, a driver’s license appeal case gets denied because it simply wasn’t good enough to win. Very few losing decisions are ever overturned in court.

The denial of a case may (or may not) reflect on the person who filed it every bit as much as it may or may not be a result of the way his or her case was managed. For example, a person may be truly sober and otherwise qualified to win, but wind up getting denied because his or her case wasn’t carefully prepared, or not properly presented. On the flip side, a person may simply NOT meet the Secretary of State’s requirements to win, meaning that no lawyer, no amount of preparation, nor any approach to presenting the case could have produced a successful outcome.

In part 1 of this article about why real sobriety is the absolute key to winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, we began by noting that there are really 3 kinds of people in the license appeal world: Those who are truly sober, those who think they’re sober, and those who pretend to be sober. We looked at the main rule governing license reinstatement cases, and boiled it all down to the essentials that a person must have been completely abstinent for a “legally sufficient” period of time, and must also have the ability and commitment to remain sober for life.

vectorstock_38822132-copy-300x295Essentially, this all means that a person has honestly quit drinking and is a safe bet to never drink again. To be clear, the abstinence/sobriety requirement also means a person can’t use drugs, and that included recreational marijuana. As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, our job begins with us screening potential clients to make sure they really have quit drinking (and using drugs) for good. Because our firm guarantees to win every case we take, we need to make sure we don’t undertake representation for someone who is anything less than truly sober, or otherwise unable to succeed.

Our guarantee helps a potential client know that he or she isn’t risking any money by hiring us. The very fact that we take someone’s case answers any question like, “What are my chances?” We can’t afford to get stuck taking on an appeal that we can’t make into a winner the first time around, because we’re then obligated to do the whole thing all over again – for free – the next year. The key to our success, though, starts with a client who has honestly quit drinking, and has both the ability and a genuine commitment to remain clean and sober for life.

Contact Information