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Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

If you win your license back through a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal, you will almost certainly be required to drive on restrictions – with an ignition interlock unit – for one full year before you can appeal for full driving privileges. Although the law does not specifically require that anyone who wins a license appeal must start off with an interlock and/or a restricted license, it is standard practice that everyone does just that.

vectorstock_12506221-300x300And to be clear, by “everyone,” I mean that 99.9% of all people who win the restoration of their driver’s license will be required to start out with both an interlock unit and a restricted license. Our focus in this piece will be on the restoration of a Michigan driver’s license. A restoration occurs when someone who still resides in Michigan obtains the reinstatement of his or her license. This is different than a clearance case, where someone who does not or no longer lives here seeks the removal of  a Michigan hold on his or her driving record so that he or she can get (or renew) a license in their new state.

The Michigan Secretary of State has full licensing authority over all Michigan residents. In that capacity, it has what amounts to an unwritten policy that nearly everyone who wins his or her license back after having had it revoked for multiple DUI’s will have to prove themselves for a solid year before they’ll be considered for full and unrestricted driving privileges. The interlock and restricted license requirements have been the status quo for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been practicing law for 30-plus years, as of this writing.

In numerous other articles, I have noted that the substance use evaluation (SUE) is really the foundation of a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. While true, that’s also a rather general observation, because there is actually a specific section of the SUE that is really critical to the outcome of a license appeal: the prognosis. The importance of the prognosis cannot be overstated, as it is the evaluator’s professional judgment about how likely the subject is to remain alcohol-free for life.

vectorstock_3360957-281x300This is important, because winning a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal requires a person to prove that he or she has not consumed any alcohol (or drugs) for a legally “sufficient” period of time (our firm typically requires a client to have at least 18 months’ of clean time before we’ll move forward with a case) and that they have both the ability and the commitment to never drink again. In that sense, the evaluator’s prognosis is really the main point and “bottom line” of a substance use evaluation.

A person MUST have a favorable prognosis in order to win a license appeal, but, like so much else involved in these cases, there is a lot more to all of this, and much of it is rather subtle. That brings us to the real point of this article: a prognosis must be good enough to win, but when it seems too good to be true, it’s no good at all. This most often becomes an issue when an evaluator gives someone an “excellent” prognosis. It may seem counter-intuitive, but a prognosis of “excellent” can often be a problem, rather than a good thing.

As a busy Michigan driver’s license restoration practice, our law firm is contacted every day by people interested in pursing a license appeal. Many of them find us online, see the volume of information we have put up about the driver’s license restoration process, read about our win-guarantee, and then call us, ready to pay and get started. What a lot of people miss, though, is that our guarantee not only protects the client from losing his or her money with us, it also protects us from taking and then getting stuck with a case that can’t win.

Ohhh222-300x260Our firm is in a position where we could really cash in if we didn’t have the integrity to NOT merely tell people what they want to hear and, instead, took every case that came out way. Everyone who calls our office wants to us to tell them that we win their license back, and we’d sure love to do just that. It would be easy to just agree with people when they explain how much they need to be able to drive again, and then take their retainers. An exploding practice fueled by happy people gladly paying our fees? What could be better than that?

However, my team and I are guided by conscience, and live by the Golden Rule to treat others as we would wish to be treated. We follow the mantra “do the right thing.” For us, that means telling people what they need to hear, and not just what they want to hear. Sure, being honest and not taking the cases that can’t win does costs us a lot of money, but it’s the right thing to do. We assume that when people call us, even though they want to hear that we can win their license back right away, they don’t want us to just say so – unless it’s true.

The inspiration for this article comes from a sense of frustration that my team and I sometimes feel in our work as a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm when speaking with people who have lost a prior license appeal, but don’t have any of their paperwork. Numerous times each day, we interact with people looking to win back the ability to drive, many of whom have lost either a prior “do-it-yourself” license appeal or who lost their case and their money by using some lawyer who didn’t guarantee to win, like we do.

Room2-300x288Thankfully, most callers can give us a fairly good overview of their situation from memory, but no matter what, it is impossible for us (or for any lawyer) to be precise about what can, cannot, and should be done, as well as when to proceed, without first reviewing a person’s “paperwork.” I use quotes there because “paperwork” always includes a person’s driving record, but it also includes all Secretary of State orders from prior appeals, and all of the documents filed with them. Life being what it is, these things can (and do) get misplaced, or otherwise lost when people move.

As a general rule, a person should always hang on to everything from any prior license appeal(s) until they’ve won back their full driving privileges. While it’s best to save all of one’s documents, the driving record and any orders from prior cases are the most important of these, because the information on them is determinative of when a person can move forward with a license reinstatement case, as well as identify the main issue(s) to be considered within that appeal.

One of the most important things we do, as Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, is to read and fully understand a person’s driving record. Lots of people can, in a general sense, “read” their driving record, but we earn our livings based upon correctly interpreting every single entry on it. This is a lot like looking at an x-ray as a layperson versus being a radiologist: Pretty much everyone can see a broken bone, but there are subtleties in those cloudy, gray areas, that – lost to everyone else – reveal important medical information to those whose work depends on correctly reading them.

CarSk-300x286The inspiration for this article came from a recent phone call we received from someone who worked within the criminal justice system, inquiring about a license appeal. Our firm won’t undertake the first step in a license reinstatement case until we’ve read a person’s driving record, and no decent lawyer would ever think to do otherwise. This caller claimed to know all of the relevant information from his driving record. When we told him that we’d still need a copy of it anyway, he became angry, insisting there was no need for that, because, as he put it, “I just told you everything.”

Beyond very real questions about this caller’s claimed sobriety date (given his attitude), the simple fact is that even if he did have a perfect memory of every driving infraction he had ever received (including the dates when he was arrested and the dates of his various DUI convictions), that doesn’t mean that he understood every last entry on it, or that his driving record was necessarily accurate. Driving records can contain mistaken information.

To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, a person must prove that he or she is clean and sober, and is committed to remaining clean and sober for life. “Clean and sober” specifically means that a person does not consume or use any kind of mind or mood altering substances whatsoever. Thus, anyone who uses recreational marijuana, no matter how infrequently, is not truly “clean and sober.” This is one of the very first things anyone learns when they get into recovery.

vectorstock_1802825-300x300That brings us to an important point, because the kind of sobriety required to win a license appeal isn’t merely “incidental” in the sense that a person merely has not yet consumed any alcohol or used any drugs. Instead, a person must prove that he or she is sober by choice, meaning that he or she both understands the need for complete abstinence and has made a conscious decision to live substance-free. For its part, the Michigan Secretary of State is going to drill down and really explore the strength of a person’s ongoing commitment to do just that.

One of the most telltale indicators that someone doesn’t “get” this comes after being confronted with the need to prove that they’ve chosen to be completely clean and sober. Often, they’ll say something like, “but marijuana is legal now!” Being clean and sober means knowing one can never indulge in the use of any mind of mood-altering substances, whether they’re legal or not. The Secretary of State has specific, established criteria for granting a license appeal, and they require complete abstinence from all drugs and alcohol, and a commitment to never drink or use any kind of intoxicants again.

When is that last time you consumed alcohol? As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, this is the first thing we want to know from anyone inquiring about a license appeal case. If this isn’t about the first thing any other lawyer asks a potential client, then that lawyer doesn’t know the first thing about license appeals. After all, the ENTIRE point of a driver’s license or clearance case is proving that you have given up drinking for good, and have been alcohol-free for a legally “sufficient” period of time.

2-300x274Our office is contacted numerous times each day by people who are more than willing to pay our fee in order to win back their driver’s license. The simple fact is, if you’ve read this far, then you’ve already read more than many do. Unfortunately, though, a lot of people see how “big” our firm is in this field, and simply figure, “I want to go with them!” While that’s flattering, the reason we have such a good reputation and such a huge archive of articles and information is that we do things the right way, and that begins with making sure any potential client has genuinely quit drinking.

As it turns out, about half of the people who contact us regarding a license appeal are still drinking. The simple fact is that if you’re still drinking, you cannot win a driver’s license restoration appeal. And let me be 100% clear about this: my team and I have absolutely no interest in representing someone who will just “say” they’ve quit, or who is otherwise interested in trying to BS their way through the process. We will only take a case for a person who is honestly and genuinely sober. This is how we we win nearly 100% of our cases, and why we guarantee to win every restoration and clearance case that we do take.

Because we are a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm, my team and I deal with people looking to get back on the road every day. As the reader might imagine, over the course of 30-plus years, we’ve encountered just about every driver’s license situation one could imagine. Quite often, we are contacted by people who are currently facing or who have recently had a DWLS/DWLR (suspended or revoked license) charge. In this article, we’ll examine why a pending driving while license suspended (or revoked) charge will completely freeze any plans someone may have to file a license appeal.

DL-Pic2-291x300The inspiration for this article started with a recent string of inquires we received from people who wanted to start a license restoration case, but who had also recently pled guilty to some kind of driving while license suspended or revoked charge. What really pushed me to start writing it was an email I received earlier in the day I decided to to address this topic again. In it, the writer indicated that she had recently picked up a DWLS case, was still waiting to hear from the court, and wanted to know about representation, and whether or not it would be a good idea to get a “leg up” on it by preemptively filing a driver’s license restoration appeal.

Of course, I had to reply and point out that hurrying up and filing a license restoration appeal with a pending DWLS or DWLR case (or any pending case that involved driving) is the WORST possible idea. That said, thinking ahead about the big picture, particularly when a someone is facing some kind of driving charge, is a good idea, even the idea does come to mind a bit late. This is especially true if this can all be part of some larger strategy to resolve the DWLS or DWLR case in a way that won’t delay or otherwise screw up a person’s ability to file a license restoration case. Let’s see how this all works…

Anyone who wins a Michigan driver’s license restoration case starts out on a restricted license for at least 1 year, and only thereafter can he or she move to have his or her “full” license returned. Usually, as soon as someone gets the good news about having won his or her restricted license, they’ll immediately start talking about getting their full license back as soon as possible. Over the course of my years as a driver’s license restoration lawyer, however, I have learned that, for a lot of reasons, people often wait longer – much longer than they should – to file for full driving privileges.

DW2-300x268To begin, let me make clear that waiting is never a good idea. The reason is simple: $hit happens. Things often go wrong with ignition units. The overwhelming majority of the ignition interlock violations my team and I handle  are NOT caused by a person drinking alcohol. Rather, many result from either a malfunction of the unit or for errant alcohol readings caused by people doing things like using hand sanitizer and such. When a person uses (and relies upon) something as fickle as an interlock device for a long period of time, it’s all but inevitable that something will go wrong.

At worst, when certain problems occur while someone is on an interlock, the Secretary of State will issue a formal, written ignition interlock violation, and also automatically re-revokes the person’s license. This is called it a “reinstatement of original action,”, the original action being the initial revocation of the person’s license for multiple DUI’s. Not surprisingly, then, It’s best to keep the time frame one spends on the interlock as short as possible. The hearing officers know this through experience, and when conducting a hearing for someone who has been on a restricted license with an interlock for a lot longer than a year, they’ll often ask why the person waited so long to move forward for full driving privileges.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration attorneys, we deal with ignition interlock issues and violations every single day. In the previous article, we examined the frustration people feel when they encounter a violation due to a mechanical failure of the unit, or when testing positive for alcohol, even though they had not been drinking. In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at a situation that is almost always completely avoidable – a missed rolling retest – and what to do if or when it happens.

M2-300x253The Michigan Secretary of State makes it very clear that a person should NOT leave his or vehicle while it’s running. Here is the exact language included with every order granting a restricted license: “Never leave your vehicle running and unattended, even momentarily. If you fail to provide a timely rolling re-test for any reason, it is a major ignition interlock violation. Your original revocation/denial will be reinstated and you will lose your license.” No matter how you cut it, this directive is both clear and concise.

When a person does miss a test because he or she was outside the vehicle, they instinctively know they screwed up. What really sucks is that in almost every case, a test is missed by accident, and the person can promptly retest using his or her interlock unit, and provide a negative breath test result that leaves no doubt he or she didn’t consume any alcohol. Except that doesn’t matter. Although it’s frustrating, the simple fact is that the Secretary of State makes the rules, and missing a retest is a specified and clear violation of them.

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