This will be a short and simple article about the absolute key to winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. For all the issues involved in getting your license back, the one thing that you must have, and be able to prove, in every case, is that you have quit drinking for good. Despite the lengths I go to make this clear on my site and in these blog articles, some people miss the point, and mistakenly think that just being committed to not drinking and driving again is enough to win a license appeal. It’s not.

the-key-300x212Rather than build up to the big explanation, let me clarify things now, and we’ll get into the details later: The entire point of a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal to the Michigan Secretary of State is for you to prove that you have quit drinking for a sufficient period of time, and have the ability to remain alcohol-free for good. In other words, you have to show that you had enough of drinking, decided to quit, and intend to “stay quit” for good.

Doing this first requires accepting that you’re drinking became a problem. Anyone who even hesitates on this point is not ready to start a license restoration or clearance case. Nobody quits drinking because it’s working out so well. For some people, a 2nd DUI is more than enough reason to quit, while others continue imbibing, despite the problems caused by their relationship to alcohol. There are also many unfortunate people who lose everything to their drinking.

If you have lost your Michigan driver’s license because of multiple DUI’s, it goes without saying that you wish you could have it back. It’s hard to get by without driving. As one of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) hearing officer often responds when people say they need their license, “everybody needs a license.” That, however, has nothing to do with the actually being able to win it back.

1508123173_665_44-motivational-fitness-quotes-with-inspirational-images-300x265This article was suggested by my Ann, my senior assistant, after a long day of talking to people and answering questions about the Michigan driver’s license restoration process. My office handles about 200 license appeals each year. Because I guarantee to win every case I take, that requires us to screen out those callers who aren’t yet ready, and that, in turn, means talking to a lot of people. For all the questions you may have about winning your license back, let me ask this one about you: are you a wisher, a wanter, or a doer?

You learn a lot when you deal with the public in any capacity. In the context of being a Michigan driver’s license restoration practice, we see how people fit into certain patterns. Some people are just plain angry that they’ve lost their license, but have little to no interest about dealing with the drinking that created their predicament. These people wish for things to be different, just like we all wish we could win the lottery. Others go one step further, moving their wish into a want by actually making some effort to regain the ability to drive.

This is the third and final installment in our mini-series about the 3 things you should never do after a DUI arrest. To review quickly, in part 1, I cautioned against letting fear guide you. The takeaway in that piece was simply to relax and understand that a DUI case is almost never as bad as it seems. This tied into part 2, where we saw how the goal of most legal marketing is to scare you enough to make you run to the office of the first lawyer you talk to.

fish-comic-300x225Every lawyer, of course, wants to get that first call, so they use gimmicks like “phones answered 24 hours” to stop people from looking around any further. That, as we noted, is exactly the OPPOSITE of what you should do. Instead, you should always be a good consumer, take your time, look around at all your options, and then make an informed decision. Just as part 1 tied into part 2, part 2 ties in to this third part, because as you do that, you should always play it safe and question everything you hear or read.

Here, in part 3, we’ll see why you should always maintain a healthy skepticism as you look for a lawyer, and reinforce the universal truth that when you come across something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When I’m the consumer, I want to do business with those people who provide real information, instead of making everything sound peachy. I want the person who will give me the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the spirit of “treat others as you would wish to be treated,” this is how I do thing.

This is the 2nd in our mini-series of short, independent articles about the 3 things you should never do after a DUI arrest. In this installment, I’ll explain why you should take your time and never rush to find a lawyer. This is clearly not some self-promotional, “hire me!” piece, because the point I’m making here is that you need to slow down, look around, and examine all of your options in order to find the lawyer who is right to handle your OWI case.

take-your-time-500-300x200In truth, there is absolutely NO good reason why you shouldn’t be a smart consumer and do your homework before you hire an attorney. You’d do that if you were buying a new car, refrigerator, or TV, so you shouldn’t do any less when it comes to deciding who will represent you. You certainly don’t have to spend a ton of time on this quest, but neither should you run to the first lawyer with whom you speak, either.

A large portion of the DUI legal industry is basically pre-programmed to get potential clients into the office as soon as possible. That’s why you see absolutely idiotic gimmicks like “phones answered 24 hours.” Really? No lawyer out there has his or her phone by the bedside waiting to answer that 3 a.m. call. Instead, it goes to an answering service. Whatever else, the better class of attorneys don’t play the “hook ‘em and book ‘em” game, in large part because they don’t have to.

This will be the first installment in a mini-series of 3 relatively short articles intended to protect anyone recently arrested for a DUI from making a mistake that will only make their situation worse. Each article will address one, single topic. In this installment, we’ll examine why you should never act (meaning react to your DUI situation) out of fear. Your decisions about what to do should be intelligent and thoughful. It’s important to begin by pointing out that, most of the time (and almost all of the time in a 1st offense case), a DUI charge isn’t nearly as bad as it might seem, so the first order of the day is to calm down a bit and not simply react. Unfortunately, people become vulnerable when they’re afraid, and fear is a very natural reaction to a DUI charge. What matters is to not let that overwhelm you.

234-300x234If a person can simply chill out for just a moment and consider a few things before reacting, he or she can make good and thoughtful choices, rather than, as my parents used to say, “jump from the frying pan into the fire.” One of the biggest mistakes people make right after an OWI arrest is to act out of fear. What’s worse is that there is almost an entire segment of the legal industry set up to take advantage of that fear. Moreover, and as I just noted, most, if not all of that fear is misplaced

Let me be clear about this, because it is 100% true in every single criminal and DUI case: you should take your time and exercise good consumer skills before you ever decide on a lawyer. You should look around, read around, and look at those lawyers who actually make the effort answer the questions you have and provide useful information.

My office is contacted daily by people who can’t get a license in another state because Michigan has a “hold.” As a result, a huge part of my driver’s license restoration practice involves winning clearances of Michigan holds on driving records for people who now live out of state. In this article, I want to skip over much of the actual license appeal process (I’ve covered that in plenty of my other articles) and simply explain why you should come back to Michigan in order to do this correctly.

Y2-300x194As a matter of policy, my office will ONLY handle clearance cases for someone who comes back to meet with us. This isn’t nearly as bad or inconvenient as it sounds (especially compared to the inconvenience of not driving). My clients only have to come back to Michigan twice. The first visit is to meet with us (for about 3 hours) and then our clients go from our office to the counselor’s office to have the substance abuse evaluation completed. This is essentially a “one and done” kind of deal, because we’ll work on the letters of support and anything else that needs to be done via email or the like.

The second trip back Michigan is for the license appeal hearing itself. Hearings last about a half hour, and they are scheduled every hour on the hour, so a person can rely on being in and out of that proceeding in less than 60 minutes, no matter what. Thus, a person who comes in from another state for something like a 1:00 p.m. hearing can plan on being able to head back home before 2:00 p.m. that same day, unless he or she wants to stick around for a while afterward. What I’m driving at is that doing it this way – the right way – isn’t nearly as difficult or involved as it may at first seem.

In a recent article, I reiterated the best legal advice you can ever get: shut up and always exercise your right to remain silent. As a Michigan criminal attorney, my office gets plenty of calls from people who have been contacted by the police (often a police detective) and who have been asked to answer some questions. While I hope this article will be of use to those who have not yet talked to the police about their “situation,” the reality is that many of those who read it will have already done so.

Qs-300x201Unfortunately, we are frequently called after the person has already spoken to the police and answered questions. Without fail, every single person who calls after speaking with the police says something like “I think I might have made things worse,” because they realize, although only after the fact, that they should have kept quiet. If you’re reading this after you’ve talked, don’t freak out. Most people do. Then my job becomes making the best of what we have to work with.

The problem isn’t that people don’t know that about their right to remain silent, it’s that they don’t know how to exercise it and keep quiet when they’re being questioned by the police. Somewhat ironically, if a person feels uncomfortable refusing to speak to the police, it’s kind of a reflection of having been raised “right.” For example, I was taught to respect the police. It’s really easy for me to sit here and tell the reader to refuse to answer questions, but I know it would be a much different situation if I had law enforcement bearing down on me with pointed questions about some situation. I’d probably need someone to remind me to keep quiet.

A regular and frustrating part of my experience as a Michigan driver’s license restoration attorney is when a client who is on a restricted license gets an ignition interlock violation after either having started the process of getting a full license, or who would otherwise be eligible to do so. In other words, it’s enough of a pain in the a$$ if someone is 4, 6 or 8 months into his or her restricted license and then gets violated. It’s worse, though, when the person has been on a restricted for over a year already and could have, but has not yet, restored his or her full privileges, and then gets a violation.

don-t-wait-message-hand-drawn-text-white-red-black-wall-poster-words-clock-face-arrow-elements-to-62745206Remember, after a successful driver’s license restoration appeal, a person has to drive for at least 1 year on a restricted license with an ignition interlock unit. Once he or she has accumulated 12 months, however, they can move forward for “full” restoration. One frequent misconception is the idea that it “looks better” if the person spends a little more time on the restricted license. That’s dead wrong.

The very day your year is up, you should move forward to restore full driving privileges. The only thing that happens if you wait is that you invite trouble. I know this, because I get called in to fix these situations all the time.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, one of the most common questions we are asked is “what’s going to happen to my license?” We’re going to keep this article simple and confine our examination only to 1st offense cases. The whole subject of OWI license sanctions for the various offenses can get rather deep. Since the majority of drunk driving charges are for 1st offenses, anyway, this overview will apply to the largest potential audience.

LCD-3-300x171We’ll start by clarifying one important point – “1st offense” means that a person has not been convicted of any other prior alcohol-related traffic offense within 7 years. DUI driver’s license penalties are imposed by the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), and under its rules, a conviction can ONLY count as a 1st offense if a person has not had any other alcohol-related driving convictions within 7 years from the date of arrest for the current charge.

In the real world, almost every first offender arrested for drinking and driving will be charged with one of two DUI offenses: Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), or OWI with a BAC of .17 or more (often called “High BAC”). Most of the time, a 1st offense DUI is simply charged as “OWI.” Nowadays, the more serious “High BAC” offense is charged about 1/3 of the time. It’s critical to understand that what happens to your license is a result of the charge to which you wind up pleading guilty, meaning your conviction charge, and NOT the charge that’s first made against you. In fact, most of the time, we can negotiate the original charge down to something less serious.

As a male Michigan DUI attorney, I am under no illusion that I have any kind of expertise in women’s issues, or that I’m in any way specially qualified in this area. However, I also know that some aspects of DUI cases are just “different” for women versus men, and that it is just plain wrong to not at least acknowledge that. Much of what makes up a DUI case is the same for both men and women. However, those things that are different, few as they may be, do matter a lot, especially to the person going through it. In this piece, I want to take a glance at some of them.

woman-thoughtful-sad-e1512232913690-300x199A DUI case is, at least in theory, gender-neutral. Most cases begin with a traffic stop, and usually, the reason for the stop has to do with how the person was driving. It’s not like the police usually know (or care) if the driver is male or female; that’s discovered later. Another thing that’s almost always a non-factor is how the different sexes metabolize alcohol. Sure, men tend to have more bodyweight than women and therefore will be able to drink “more,” but the law in Michigan clearly provides that a person shall not drive with a bodily alcohol content (BAC) over .08. It doesn’t matter how many more or less drinks it takes someone to get beyond that level, only that he or she is, in fact, above it.

Once a person has been pulled over, he or she will usually be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests. Here’s where things can start to diverge. Over the course of my 28-plus years as a DUI attorney, I cannot count how many times a woman has told me that she was wearing heels when the officer asked her to do either the heel-to-toe walk or the standing leg raise. The most common response by an officer when that’s mentioned, or noticed, is to tell the woman she can remove them. I may not know what it’s like to wear high heels, but I know I would never want to try a field sobriety test in bare or stockinged feet at the side of the road on a nice day, much less if it’s cold, and/or raining, or snowing. Will this alone invalidate the test results? Usually not, but it’s something to examine as part of the evidence, and it’s one thing a man will never experience as part of his DUI arrest.