In my day-to-day work as a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer, I frequently meet people who were eligible to seek Restoration of their Driver’s License, or at least seek a Clearance of a Michigan “Hold” upon their Driving Record much earlier. Their reasons for waiting are varied, but lack of funds is frequently a part of problem. In this article, I’m going to turn the tables a bit and talk about how, in some cases, not getting that License back can itself be part of the reason for a lack of funds, and how getting back on the road again, legally, is really an investment in your future.
Many people find their way to my Office after first having tried their own hand at a License Appeal, and losing. Given that 3 out of 4 Administrative Reviews are Denied, many of my new Clients hire me to get it right the second time around. Sometimes, however, people become discouraged after trying a License Appeal on their own and losing, and don’t even bother to look at their options again until some change in circumstance forces them to do so.
Beyond lack of funds, quite often, it’s a job, or the possibility of a new job, that motivates someone to really find about winning back their License, or getting a Michigan Clearance so they can get a License in a different state. Whatever the reason, almost everyone finds that being able to drive again certainly increases their options, as well as their earning potential. This is particularly true for those who live in Michigan, or any place, really, without a first-class mass transit system. By contrast, if a person lives in Chicago, or New York, and has access to a subway system that can take them pretty much any and everywhere they’d need to go, then lack of a Driver’s License isn’t such a big deal.
The inspiration for this article came, like so many others, as a result of a conversation I had with Ann, my Senior Assistant. A guy from out of state had just called and asked if we could help him out because he lost a “do-it-yourself” Administrative Appeal. He wasn’t happy to find out he was going to have to wait another year, and then complained about how he had a good job offer, but needed a License to take it. He had become eligible to file his Appeal a few years before, but didn’t feel any real push to do anything about it until the job thing came up.
Ann and I then began to discuss how many other opportunities a person may miss simply because they rely on other people to get them around. If you think about it, even if a person has a good job close by, or at least has a ride to get there, if they have no way of driving anywhere else, they probably don’t even have their eyes or ears open for a better opportunity elsewhere. In other words, they can’t really give any serious thought to the idea of finding a better job because they’re stuck.
Single people, of course, really feel the brunt of not being able to drive. Not to be too flippant about it, but it is probably NOT a great pickup line for a guy to ask a girl if she’d like to go out, and, if she says, “yes,” to then ask her to pick him up at 7. Talk about a wet blanket…
Perhaps worst of all is when a person just figures that they have to get to work, have to get around, and will just have to drive, whatever the chances. While that can work for a while, the chances of having Police contact are not so remote as to make that a good idea in the long run, and the more a person drives illegally, the greater the chance that they’ll get pulled over and be asked for their License and registration. After all, no one leaves home expecting or planning to get pulled over. It just happens. A person can be he best, most cautious driver in the world, but if they get involved in an accident, even if it wasn’t their fault, they’ll be taking their next ride in the Police car, and will be sent back to square one with respect to ever getting their License back.
Recently, I handled a case on behalf of a man who lost his License nearly 12 years before, for 3 DUI’s within 10 years. He would have been eligible to file a License Appeal in about 2000, but shortly before his eligibility date came up, he got caught driving, and the Secretary of State imposed the legally required “mandatory additional like period” of Revocation upon him, meaning he got slapped with another 5 year Revocation. I’m sure that was a disappointment, and I’m sure he fully intended on NOT doing anything to screw up his eligibility in 2005, but sure enough, he got caught driving again, right before he was eligible to file in 2005, and wound up suffering another 5-year “mandatory additional like” Revocation (meaning another 5 years) and didn’t become eligible until 2010. By that time, he felt thoroughly discouraged about ever getting back on the road. Thankfully, he pretty much had his rides to and from work all taken care of, so he was no longer driving.
But he couldn’t go grocery shopping, and he couldn’t get the kids from school, and he was scared that if he did, he’d get caught, and be ineligible to get his License Reinstated for another 5 years. Finally, he decided to do something about it. He first tried on his own in 2011, and lost, and then called me in 2012. He’s now driving again, and doing it legally.
The point to all this is that not waiting unnecessarily to begin to restore a Michigan Driver’s License that has been Revoked for multiple DUI’s really can be an investment in your future. However, if you do wait, more than just not investing in your future; you’re really gambling on it. If you drive illegally, ever, you run not only the risk of getting caught and dealing with a new Criminal charge, but also the “mandatory additional like” Revocation that goes along with that. On top of all that, once you do become eligible to file a License Appeal, the Michigan Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) Hearing Officer is going to ask why you essentially thumbed their nose at the system and its rules, and drove anyway.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that everyone tries for a License the day they become eligible to file an Appeal. It is important to remember that a person must be off Probation or Parole in order to win a Michigan License Restoration or Clearance case. They must be able to show a period of “voluntary” abstinence from alcohol, which means a period of time during which they were not subject to getting in trouble for drinking, even if they weren’t subject to testing during that period. I’m often asked how long is long enough, and the best answer I can give is that it varies from case to case. A person who just got off parole two months ago for their 11th DUI will undoubtedly have to pile up more demonstrably “voluntary” Sober time than a person who just wrapped up their term of Non-Reporting Probation for a 2nd DUI.
The thing to keep in mind is that being able to legally again opens up possibilities in all areas of a person’s life, including possibilities a person may not know they have. In fact, they may not even have them until they start getting around. I’m reminded of the old saying that money doesn’t buy happiness. Maybe it doesn’t but NOT having to worry about not having enough money to pay the bills beats the daylights out of worrying about late payments and shut offs and bad credit.
To anyone who raises their eyebrows at the price of a License Restoration, I would say consider it an investment in your future. In my case, I at least offer a first time win Guarantee, so anyone who becomes my Client can look upon that price as the cost of really getting back on the road, and not just the cost of just taking a shot at getting back on the road. Anyone who has read any of my articles, or enough of my website knows that I always point out that I offer the Guarantee because I will only accept a case if the Client is really and truly Sober. Anyone still drinking is not ready, and I don’t take such cases.
In the final analysis, there is something good about playing by the rules. There is an intangible worth about doing things the right way. It applies to me, as a Lawyer, and it also applies to anyone wanting to get back on the road. That’s why I say I’ll get you back on the road…legally. The cost is measured in dollars, but the joy, and the freedom are priceless.
The moral of this story, I suppose, is that is far better to invest in your future instead of paying dearly for your past.