In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I have a staff that knows more about driver’s license appeals than most lawyers ever will. I’m not kidding about this, either. My senior assistant and my paralegal catch things that many attorneys don’t even know exist. The day before this article was written, I sat with a new client who had lost two previous “do-it-yourself” license appeals, and was now hiring me to handle a charge of driving while license revoked (DWLS/DWLR). When I asked him about his 2 prior losing appeals, and he told me that, to his dismay, he had just learned from Ann, my Senior Assistant that there was no way he could have won either of those “do-it-yourself” cases because he was on parole at the time he filed them. A person must almost always be off probation or parole to win a license restoration case. He then said he wished that the evaluators he had hired to do the required substance abuse evaluation had known that, so he wouldn’t have wasted all that time and money on 2 separate appeals that had no legal chance of winning.
I could go on and on and cite example after example like this. I could also point out that Ann has taken calls from many lawyers (including some pretty well-known and important figures in the legal community) and explained to them how things work before the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS). I have been approached and thanked by lawyers I see in court for the help they got calling my office from my staff; I just smile and say, “You’re welcome.” For this installment, I’m going to share a very important and relevant article Ann wrote a few days ago. As is often the case with the driver’s license restoration articles on this blog, Ann was inspired to write her piece about something that has been a kind of recurring theme; the half-baked license appeal. This is what doomed the prior appeals of the young man who hired me for his revoked license charge, and some notion of “halfway” (or, you could say “half-assed”) is almost always lurking as the reason people lose when they hire some lawyer who doesn’t concentrate in license appeals, or otherwise try to do it themselves.
The simple truth is that I am in business to make money. Turning cases away is not good for the bottom line, but I will NOT take a case that I cannot guarantee to win, and if I take your case, I do just that. Perhaps the biggest “halfway” stumbling block to winning back a license occurs when a person hasn’t completely removed alcohol from their lives. The absolute and non-negotiable key to winning your license back is that you must be genuinely sober. You have to prove that you quit drinking and that you are “likely” to never drink again. While it’s true that the Secretary of State wants to make sure that anyone who has lost his or her license for multiple DUI’s can prove he or she is not a risk to drink and drive again, it does so by only giving licenses back to people who can show they are a safe bet to never drink again. People who do not drink are not any kind of risk to drink and drive. I try to make clear, all over my website and throughout the more than 300 driver’s license restoration articles on this blog, that the sobriety requirement is real, and that I won’t get involved with anyone who is still drinking. Even so, we still get calls from people who need a license and think all that sobriety stuff is just talk, and will admit that they still drink once in a while. I am not interested in any of that; my integrity is not for sale. Sure, I’m human, and while it’s possible that I can be deceived, I cannot be bought. Okay, that’s enough from me. Let’s get to Ann’s take on all this:
No room for Halfway to Winning a Michigan License Appeal
The Michigan Secretary of State says that you are eligible to appeal to get your license back and the excitement begins thinking that you can drive again. However, there is no halfway to getting there.
Let’s first talk about the meaning of being eligible. The law sets the date for the earliest time that you can appeal for a license; however, it does not mean because you are eligible that you are fully ready to win.
Before Winning an appeal:
- First and foremost, you must be totally sober and have eliminated all alcohol and/or controlled substances from your life.
- You must actually be living a sober life and understand what that means.
- You have to be able to prove your sober life with a minimal chance of relapsing by clear and convincing evidence.
- In addition to the first three steps above, you have to file all the required paperwork which must be submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State in compliance with the rules of the Administrative Hearing Section (AHS, and until recently called the Driver’s Assessment and Appeal Division, or DAAD) before a hearing can even be scheduled. Appeals can be lost by incomplete, inaccurate or inconsistent paperwork prior to the actual hearing. This is a bummer when someone is truly sober and gets denied. So, we require the clients to do the work to become sober, and our office will handle the legal work to allow the hearing officer to grant a license or clearance.
Let’s talk about “halfway,” and see if this makes sense:
You a have full time 40 hour a week job but you show up only part of the time. Think you will be able to keep your job?
You have a mortgage or rent payment but you only pay half the bill each month. Think you will be able to continue to live there?
You stopped drinking, but still hang around your drinking friends. Think you will never drink again?
You gave up going to the bar but have an occasional beer or wine at home. Think you would never drink and drive again?
Okay, I think you get the message. It is the same thing with respect to re-gaining back your driving privileges. Doing half the job and expecting to win a license appeal hearing will result in losing your appeal and set you back another year. Eligibility and winning are two different things.
We want to win your license appeal the first time just as much as you want to win it the first time. If we win, you win. Our experience allows us to make sure your appeal is done right, and our guarantee insures that we don’t overlook anything. Because of the win guarantee that goes along with every appeal, we’re on the hook until you’re back on the road.
So what does this mean and what do we do to win?
- We start with a sober client. If a person believes they are now sober but also believes that they can go back to drinking again at some point, this would be doing half their job. The Secretary of State would deny the appeal. You must be sober for life and be able to prove it.
- Preparation is key. It is our job to prepare the client for every step of the process. If you go at it alone or without an experienced attorney and only half the job gets done, then you are potentially setting yourself up for a losing appeal. We make sure every client is well prepared to win their appeal.
- Paperwork is critically important. All necessary documents required by the state to be eligible to schedule a hearing are received by our office and processed correctly.
As to those required documents and contents, we make sure that the client not only knows what documents need to be sent to the Driver’s Assessment and Appeal Division, but more importantly, what needs to be contained within them. It is extremely critical to hire an experienced driver’s license appeal attorney who has the knowledge to know what to look for within your documents before the request for hearing paperwork ever reaches the State. Going forward without this knowledge can mean the difference between losing and winning your appeal. We don’t file anything until we’ve checked it over and made sure everything is in order.
We know what to look for, what should be included in the testimonial letters, the evaluation, the 10 panel urine screen, the testing instruments used to determine the prognosis and diagnosis and understand the results. If you want to win a Michigan License appeal hearing there is no room for halfway. We do it all the way with a guarantee to win. Doing things halfway gives you no chance to win. You owe it to yourself to contact us. Jeff has over 25 years of experience helping countless people just like you and putting them back in the driver’s seat. Call the office at 586-465-1980 and let’s work together to get the job done right.
Although this is Ann’s position, I endorse it completely because she’s absolutely spot-on. I’m not cheap, but when I take a case, there is no “what if” about it. About the worst question anyone can ask me is “What do you think my chances are?” or “Do you think I have a good case.” That’s like asking the flight crew of a jet you’re about to board, “What do you think the chances are that we won’t crash?”
When you’re ready to move forward, know that we’re here to help, and that I’ll never shortchange you with half measures. After all, I guarantee it …