Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Appeals and the Role of Drugs – Part 4

In parts 1, 2 and 3 of this article, we defined and examined the role of Drugs in a Driver’s License Restoration case. We looked at the concepts of Alcoholism, Addiction, Cross-Addiction, and Recovery. The purpose of this series is really, more than anything else, to point out that while most License Appeals involve multiple DUI’s, the issue of Drugs, whether that means a Drug crime, or illicit Drug use, or even Prescription Drug use, will open up what can literally be called a “can of worms.”

To be clear, not every Prescription is problematic. It is the use of drugs that are potentially addictive or habit-forming, or which can be considered mind or mood-altering, that creates an issue.

Color Drugs2.jpgThose who are well-versed in the concept of Cross-Addiction know that a person with an alcohol or substance-abuse problem is expected to inform a physician of that fact before receiving any medication.

This means that if a person is in Recovery from an alcohol problem, and breaks his or her arm, they are supposed to tell the emergency room physician of this fact so that the Doctor can either prescribe a non-narcotic pain medication, or, if a narcotic medication is appropriate, limit the amount of the medication and otherwise closely supervise it’s consumption by the patient.

Anyone who has been through a good Counseling or Rehab program, or has spent anytime “at the tables” of AA or NA at least knows of this warning.

And I guess that’s as good a spot as any to hit the “pause” button. If the reader has any Drug Record, or any post-sobriety date Prescriptions for any mind or mood-altering substances, and can honestly say that they have not at least heard about this concept of Cross-Addiction, then they are clearly NOT ready to forge ahead with a License Appeal.

There is always an inquiry about what Prescriptions, if any, the person filing for a License Restoration has, or has had.

A 10-panel Urine Test is also part of the “package” submitted when filing a License Appeal. Any drugs that show up in that Test, and which are not adequately and completely explained, beginning with the Substance Abuse Evaluation, and continuing through the Petitioner’s own understanding of the addictive, habit-forming, or mind or mood-altering nature of those substances, will result in the Denial of the License Appeal.

Of course, the urine test is screening for addictive, mind or mood-altering and/or narcotic or narcotic-derivative (including opiate) drugs. Thus, a person who forgets to mention a prescription for an allergy medicine, or an acid-reflux control drug won’t have to worry. Drugs like that are neither addictive, habit-forming, nor mind or mood-altering.

It was noted, in part 3 of this article, that these Appeals often have loads of details that need to be managed. That’s the role of the License Appeal Lawyer in preparing the Client.

Again, at least in my office, this begins at the very first meeting. I use that meeting as, more than anything else, an opportunity to begin preparing the Client to go in and have the required Substance Abuse Evaluation completed. Just going over what is relevant to that first step takes nearly 3 hours.

The greater problem here is that if any drug issues are not adequately disclosed and discussed, beginning with the Substance Abuse Evaluation, no subsequent explanation can make up for that omission. This all goes to the requirement that, when filing a License Appeal, the Petitioner (the person Appealing) must prove his or her case “by Clear and Convincing Evidence.”

Therefore, a Substance Abuse Evaluation that does not, from the Hearing Officer’s point of view (and that’s all that matters…), adequately disclose, discuss and explain any relevant Drug use (including Prescription) by the Petitioner will be deemed to not have satisfied the “Clear and Convincing Evidence” requirement, and will absolutely result in a Denial of the Appeal.

The issue of Cross-Addiction is relevant to anyone in Recovery, but in truth, is not explored by the Secretary of State in a License Appeal unless there is something that makes it relevant. In other words, if there is no indication of any risk for Cross-Addiction, then there are not likely to be any questions on that subject.

For those who do or might have issues related to Drugs, and even if they are not extremely well versed in the areas of Alcoholism, Addiction, Cross-Addiction and Recovery, but at least have a familiarity with these subjects to the degree that these terms “ring a bell,” then with a little work, they should be fine. If these terms are essentially meaningless, however, then it will take more than a little work. Then again, that’s what you hire a Lawyer for.

Underlying this discussion, and while perhaps unspoken, is the notion that the Hearing Officers have a deep, fundamental understanding of Alcoholism, Addiction, Cross-Addiction and Recovery. Make no mistake; they do. A person cannot just log onto the internet and read a little about the 12 Steps and get a License. The whole point of the License Appeal Process is see if a person’s Recovery and Sobriety are strong enough to prove, by Clear and Convincing Evidence, as required by Rule 13 (the main Rule governing License Appeals),that their Alcohol problem “is likely to remain under control.”

Thus, the role of Drugs in a License Appeal can range from none, to dominant. Depending on the facts of any person’s particular case, being able to intelligently discuss the concepts of Alcoholism, Addiction, Cross-Addiction and Recovery within the parameters of a License Appeal may be one of the requirements for a successful Appeal. In any case, the absence or presence of a Drug issue is an element of any Driver’s License Appeal.