A person who uses recreational marijuana cannot win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. Plenty of people will not like to hear this, and will try to argue things like, “marijuana is legal now,” or, “it’s not fair,” but the simple fact is that the recreational use of marijuana is a 100% complete bar to winning back your driver’s license. From our perspective, as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, the legalization of recreational marijuana has really been a nightmare that has required us to do a lot of explaining, as I’ll do in this article.

Pot2-300x281Let’s begin with the most foundational, basic proposition of all: License appeals are about sobriety. More specifically, they are all about proving that you’re sober, by the legally required standard of “clear and convincing evidence.” Before we get to that, however, it’s critical to understand what sobriety really is, and, just as important, what it isn’t. At it’s most basic, sobriety, in the context of license appeal cases, is the choice of a person to permanently refrain from the use of any and all intoxicating, mind-altering, or potentially habit-forming substances.

When someone has had his or her driver’s license revoked after racking up 2 or more DUI’s, the state concludes that he or she is a demonstrated risk when it comes to drinking and driving. We’ll examine the law later in this piece, but the bottom line is that the law makes very clear that anyone who has lost his or her license for multiple DUI’s can’t get it back until they prove that they no longer drink or use any other substances, and that are committed to never drinking (or using any other drugs) again. Whatever else, it’s a simple fact that people who no longer drink are zero risk to ever drive drunk again.

In part 1 of this article, we began a real-world examination of 2nd offense DUI cases in Michigan. Our objective in this piece is to drill down into what a person will experience, and why, as he or she deals with a 2nd offense drunk driving charge. The major thrust of part 1 was to examine and understand that in a 2nd offense case, the real focus of the law, and, by extension, the court system, is on a person’s drinking. By the time someone winds up in court for his or her 2nd DUI, he or she has proven themselves to be a risk to the public after consuming alcohol.

hufgfg2-298x300Years ago, I heard a Judge put it this way, and it has stuck with me ever since: “Society has lost its sense of humor for people like you.” DUI cases are now taken more seriously than ever. The red flag thrown up by every 2nd DUI offender is that he or she is someone who needs to be stopped from driving drunk again. It’s taken as a given that whatever was done to him or her the first time around obviously wasn’t enough. It certainly shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that everything that will happen in a 2nd offense DUI case is going to be “tougher” than what was done in a person’s prior, 1st offense case.

The first tool the courts will use to accomplish that is to separate him or her from drinking altogether. Accordingly, it is standard in almost every DUI case – and certainly in EVERY 2nd offense case – that a “no-drinking” condition of bond will be set and the person will be required to periodically test to prove that he or she is in compliance with it. Beyond that, his or her probation will also require that he or she continue to abstain from alcohol and continue to test, in addition to completing counseling and/or treatment, among other things.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I handle A LOT of 2nd offense cases. This is no doubt due, at least in part, to the volume of accurate and useful information we put up on our blog and website. In this 2-part article, we’re going to continue that mission and look at the reality of a 2nd offense Michigan DUI charge. We’ll skip the scare tactics and all the other BS, and focus, instead, on what a person facing a 2nd offense here, in the Greater-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding counties) will actually have to contend with.

bjhg-300x300The first thing we should NOT do is exaggerate the severity of a 2nd offense DUI charge in Michigan. The reader already knows it’s serious, but – and this is really important – it’s also manageable. If not, we could just limit this whole discussion to, “Wow; you’re screwed.” Instead, we need to look beyond the potential legal penalties and negative consequences and see what it is about 2nd offense cases that makes them a big concern to both the legal system, and the Michigan Secretary of State, who is required, by law, to revoke the driver’s license of anyone convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years.

The problem with most legal websites is that they either focus on fear-based marketing, which attempts to frighten a person into calling the law firm that has just made itself seem as if it can “save” him or her from all potential scary fallout, or otherwise make it seem like they have some special knowledge or skill to get DUI charges dismissed that all the other lawyers somehow lack. Such tactics may be profitable for the attorneys who use them, but they overlook important, fundamental factors that must really be taken into account in order to properly handle a 2nd offense DUI case.

In Michigan, the overwhelming majority of DUI cases are resolved through a plea, and very often, that involves a plea bargain. In this article, we’ll examine plea bargains and why they are such an important part of the DUI court process. Here’s a quick analogy to help explain: Most television sets go from a store to someone’s home through a sale, meaning a person buys it. Sometimes, a person is able to get a really good deal (a “bargain”) on a TV when the price is reduced. In that sense, the price reduction is a special kind of sale, just like a plea bargain is a special kind of plea.

vectorstock_30228921-copy-300x300Anytime a person stands before a Judge in court, and, while under oath, admits to having committed an offense, that’s a plea. Criminal and DUI charges get resolved in 1 of 3 ways: Most, as noted, are disposed through a plea of some sort. Sometimes, a case goes to trial, and the end result of that is the person is either convicted or acquitted of an offense. Once in a while, before any plea deal is reached. and before a trial ever takes place, a case get dismissed for legal reasons, usually because of a successful defense challenge to the evidence or the some issue regarding the law.

A plea bargain is a deal that reduces the original charge against a person to something less serious. In other words, in exchange for the dismissal of a more serious charge, a person will admit to doing something lesser, meaning an offense that carries less potential legal penalties and/or negative consequences. Not to be too simple about it, but we can break it down this way: A plea is the admission of guilt to an offense, while a plea bargain is just that, a bargain as it relates to the severity of the offense for which a person accepts responsibility.

If you have a Michigan hold on your driving record, it will prevent you from getting (or, in some cases, renewing) a license in another state. If that hold is from a revocation following multiple DUI’s, you won’t be able to have it removed until you win a formal driver’s license clearance appeal. As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, handling out-of-state clearance appeals is a HUGE part of our work. Out of the 200-plus license appeal matters we handle each year, over 40% of them involve clearances for people who do not live in Michigan.

vectorstock_36249759-copy-300x300In this article, we’re going to look at how a Michigan driver’s license clearance appeal should be done. My team and I are long beyond the point of just “knowing” how to do them. Instead, we have developed, implemented, and, ultimately, refined a system to handle clearance appeals that is so good, we guarantee to win every case we take (more on that later). The key to our success lies in the fact that we handle and manage every single detail and facet of every case we take, right from the start. This allows us to have complete quality control, and while that may sound boastful, it’s not; it’s just a fact.

To be blunt about it, anything less is simply not good enough. A person doesn’t lose a license appeal because he or she got 99% of it right; he or she loses because of the one thing in their case that was missed, or that wasn’t good enough, or that was just plain done wrong. Because our firm makes sure we control everything that goes into a case, we don’t have that problem. This is true even though appeals are now heard remotely, as is much of the legal work we do that goes into them.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I know what it means to properly fight for our clients. Key here is the word “properly.” If the reader has spent any time online, he or she has already found endless marketing messages about DUI cases. There is no shortage of lawyers who will fight everything to the last penny of your money, and there are also plenty who market themselves as having “affordable” or “reasonable” fees, which can often mean paying a cut rate price to have your case sold out and wrapped up as soon as possible.

lklkjkoi-300x285In this article, we’re going to discuss how to best handle a DUI case. No matter what, success is a DUI case is always best measured by what does NOT happen to you. For anyone facing a DUI charge, having it dismissed completely is always the best outcome. However, when, as in most cases, that can’t happen, then less really is more, in the sense that fewer legal penalties and negative consequences are always better. Those results don’t come about by being sold out, but, on the flip side, merely “fighting” everything, just for the sake of fighting, doesn’t produce any benefits, either.

Instead, the best results are always achieved by following a smart defense strategy. It may sound corny, but it’s also true that, as Michigan DUI lawyers, we sometimes have to stand fast and hold our ground, while others, the best outcome is achieved through an intelligent compromise. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that what should be done in any given case, and when to do it, is all dependent on the facts, and not just the facts of the case itself, but also things like where it’s pending, and the parties involved, including the prosecutor and the Judge.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, my team and I deal with DWLS (Driving While License Suspended) and DWLR (Driving While License Revoked) charges almost every day. In this article, we’re going to focus on why getting caught driving when one’s license is revoked can really hurt a person’s ability to get back on the road again legally. Specifically, we’re going to look at what happens when the Michigan Secretary of State learns that a person has driven after his or her license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s.

Cop3-1-300x251Under Michigan’s DUI laws, if a person is convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years, his or her license will be revoked for a minimum of 1 year, and if he or she is convicted of 3 DUI’s within 10 years, then their license will be revoked for a minimum of 5 years. State law also requires that, if a person gets caught driving while his or her license is revoked, what’s called a “mandatory additional” period of revocation be imposed, meaning that he or she will get an additional revocation slapped on top of his or her current period of revocation.

Once a person’s license gets revoked, it will stay revoked unless and until he or she files and wins a formal driver’s license restoration appeal. The “mandatory additional” means that, once someone’s license is revoked, if he or she gets caught driving at any time before it is legally restored, then an additional revocation will be added onto to his or her existing period of revocation. This action is, as noted, mandatory, and it does not matter if a person is or was “eligible” to file a license appeal at the time he or she got caught driving.

If you’re facing a Michigan DUI charge and looking for a lawyer, the search process can be overwhelming. Every legal website is designed to get your business. Lots of effort goes into presenting an appealing message. What lawyer or law firm in their right mind wouldn’t do that? The next logical step after looking online is actually making contact with a lawyer or law firm, but then, and without exception, your inquiry is always seen as a potential new, paying case. Consequently, when you call any lawyer or law firm, they’re going to treat you as nicely as possible, hoping you hire them.

Comp3-300x287Can you imagine the opposite of that – a law firm being rude to a caller, and/or making it seem like her or she is a bother and his or her business isn’t wanted? We know from our own outgoing phone calls that some law offices seem to forget that whoever answers the phone is also “The Director of First Impressions.” When you’re calling around, anything less than a welcoming reception is a huge red flag, but there’s a lot more than that to comparing lawyers and finding the one that’s right for you. On top of everything else, anyone looking for an attorney needs to quickly become a savvy consumer.

Perhaps the most important lesson I want the reader to take from this article can be boiled down to one simple statement: Don’t be a sucker. Every legal website is online to sell services; ours is no different. Some of these provide a lot of information (of varying degrees of usefulness), while others rely more on reviews and testimonials. Although my personal preference is for information over tributes, neither approach is “right,” or “wrong,” and, even more important, whatever you find on a website is really not enough, by itself, to make a final hiring decision.

The last formal step in a Michigan driver’s license restoration case is the hearing. Although it is very important, the hearing should never be something that a person dreads, or fears. In this article, we’re going to talk about preparing for it, and examine why that really begins from day one of a license restoration and clearance case. That may seem like a generic, almost meaningless statement, but it’s not. In license appeal cases, as with so many things, the key to success lies in the preparation. To borrow a line that applies here, “good work is the key to good fortune.”

vectorstock_33350257-copy-300x300In that vein, one thing that gets overlooked all too often by lawyers who don’t concentrate in license restoration or clearance cases, as our firm does, is the critical value of always paying attention to the fundamentals. Cases are won by putting in the time on the “grunt work,” meaning the mundane and regular tasks. No matter what the job, it’s easy to become complacent and do the routine work on “auto-pilot,” but in license appeal cases, that can prove fatal. Instead, we keep our focus sharp and concentrate on all those little details that, when put together, become the foundation of a winning case.

An important part of what my team and I do is to separately prepare every client for their hearing. We usually do this shortly before (typically, the day before) it takes place, so everything will be fresh in his or her mind. This is nothing special, however, and we see it as being fundamental, and as basic a requirement as it is for a medical person to use an alcohol swab and wipe the spot on a person’s skin where blood will be taken, or an injection given. Indeed, any lawyer who doesn’t thoroughly prep the client for his or her license appeal hearing is seriously underperforming.

One thing my team and I know all too well from our work as Michigan DUI lawyers is that nobody is happy to find themselves facing a drunk driving charge. It certainly isn’t the kind of thing anyone wants to brag about, but for people in certain positions and professions, the quieter it can be kept, the better. For some, a DUI can be something of a double-whammy, bringing to their employer’s attention both the taint of an ongoing criminal case and questions about whether or not the person may have some kind of drinking problem.

C2-298x300This is also a concern for people who hold certain professional licenses, like those in the medical field. Unless a DUI charge is dismissed outright, a conviction will have to be reported to the licensing body, and that will give rise to concerns about both the criminal offense itself as well as the person’s relationship to alcohol. It is almost instinctive for someone in this position to become defensive and deny having any kind problem, if for no other reason than the fear of making things even worse. Having to report a DUI is bad enough, but nobody wants to add a potential drinking problem to the mix.

These are, of course, legitimate and important considerations, but it is also critical that anyone in this kind of DUI predicament NOT let them prevent him or her from also taking an honest look at his or her relationship to alcohol. In other words, while the goal for anyone facing a DUI is to get through it and avoid as many of the legal penalties and other potential negative consequences as possible, that should never stop him or her from at least privately questioning whether the whole thing was really a one-off, or if it may be the result of some kind of troublesome drinking behavior.

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