Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

In part 1 of this article, we begin an examination of how, as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I do driver’s license restoration appeals. The focus here is on what a client coming to my office can expect to happen, and how my methods are intertwined with the rules and procedures prescribed by the Michigan Secretary of State and it’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), the body that actually decides these cases.  I think it is important to note that my way of doing thing is not only the product of extensive experience (I don’t think there is a lawyer in Michigan who has done nearly half as many license appeals as I have), but also comes with a guarantee to win.  Yet for all of that, the key to every license restoration or clearance case is that you must be genuinely sober.  In this second part, I want to pick up where we left off, with the letters of support, and work our way to and through the hearing itself.

student_success-269x300I start work on the letters of support once I have received the completed substance abuse evaluation from the evaluator because experience has taught me that they should be reviewed as part of the whole or the (big picture), so to speak – rather than read in isolation.  Even the smallest thing that’s overlooked in a case can ruin it, and there is just no way to keep track of those things by editing the letters one at a time, or in the absence of all the information in the evaluation itself.  To do this right, there is no rushing things.  It has long been my policy that I will only start work on a file when I have the time to open and finish it in one sitting.  In other words, I will never begin working on a file if there is any chance that I may be interrupted or otherwise called away, because that break in my concentration introduces a risk that I may miss something, like even the tiniest inconsistent detail.  In addition, I never work on a file just to “get it done.”  I need to be fresh, and have sharp eyes.  In the publication week of this article, for example, I have 6 license appeal hearings.  On top of all my regular court and office work, this means that I have 6 nearly 1-hour “prep sessions” to do with each of my clients.  My preps are usually done after regular business hours (again, I don’t want to be distracted or interrupted during such an important task; when I’m on the phone, I like to be in a concentration zone where my client and I are the only 2 people in the whole world).  With this week’s schedule, there will be no time this coming week where I’ll be dynamic enough to review any letters.  Fortunately, I caught up on all of them last week.

Thus, all the letters on any particular file are edited in one sitting.  When the letters of support have been finished, they’ll be sent back to the client so they can be re-typed and notarized.  The client then gets them back to me, and, at that point, we file the case.  This is also when the second payment  is due.  I have all of my cases scheduled for a live, in-person hearing at the Michigan Secretary of State’s Livonia office of hearings and appeals.  To me, it is critically important that we personally appear in front of the hearing officer, rather than doing it by video.  While we’re on the subject of the things I never do, I never call witnesses, either.  Out of the last 500 or so hearings I’ve done, I have only called 1 witness, and that was an exceptional and highly unusual circumstance involving an ignition interlock violation appeal.  As a rule, witnesses are always a mistake, and an amateur one, at that.  Once the case has been filed, it can take up to 12 weeks for us to receive notice of a hearing date, which usually takes place about 2 weeks later.  All said and done, it runs about 14 weeks from the time we file everything until we’re sitting in front of the hearing officer.

On my website, and in many of my driver’s license restoration articles on this blog, I examine the legal and practical aspects of the Michigan driver’s license appeal process.  There are specific things that need to be done to file a proper license reinstatement case with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS).  In this article, I want to examine how I do things in my office to get to that point.  My approach is, of course, intertwined with the system established by the state for the filing and scheduling of license restoration hearings.  I think I’ve gotten it down to a science, because I guarantee to win every case I take.  There’s no “catch” to this, other than the requirement that a person must have honestly quit drinking before I will take his or her case.  In this 2-part article, I want to talk about what I do to prepare a license appeal case, and what my client can expect to happen as we go along.

20121122-183432The requirement that a person be genuinely sober is, for all practical purposes, the “meat and potatoes” of a driver’s license appeal case.  Once I know someone is really in recovery, and as long as he or she is otherwise eligible to proceed (both legally and practically, meaning having been off probation or parole long enough), I can make his or her case a winner.  It begins with a phone call to my office.  All of the consultation stuff is handled over the phone, right when a person calls.  One of the first and most important things we must establish is that a person is both legally eligible to file a license appeal (meaning that, according to the driving record, it is legal to proceed) as well as practically eligible.  “Practically eligible” requires that although a person may be legally able to file an appeal, he or she also meets the Secretary of State’s criteria to actually win.  For example, and as noted just above, you cannot get your license back if you are still on probation or parole.  The Secretary of State (SOS) requires that, amongst other things, you prove some “voluntary sobriety” time.  While probation or parole, where you are not allowed to drink, and are subject to being violated if you do, and it doesn’t matter if you are tested for compliance or not.  The SOS takes the position that none of the time on probation or parole (with the exception of being on sobriety court probation – by law, that time counts as voluntary abstinence) without drinking counts as voluntary abstinence.  This means you have to be off of probation or parole for a while (again, this does NOT apply if you’re on sobriety court probation) before you have a chance to win a license appeal, even though, legally speaking, you can file one.

After explaining the process, answering the person’s questions, and then screening him or her, the next step is to make an appointment – my first meeting with a new client.  This takes around 3 hours (often a bit more), and is done before my client has his or her substance abuse evaluation completed.  The main point of that first meeting is to prepare the client for that evaluation.  Many of my clients go directly from my office to the evaluator I use (and whose office is located just a few blocks from mine; don’t worry, we help coordinate all the appointment stuff).  For those who live near enough to my office, it is less important to have the evaluation already scheduled when they meet with me, so they can set that up later.  And just for the record, even though the form is technically called a “substance use evaluation,” everyone just calls it a “substance abuse evaluation,” so we will, too.  Now, let’s shift out focus to what goes on at my first meeting with a new client…

As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I receive tons of emails from people who want to win back their driver’s license, or who need a clearance of Michigan’s hold on their driving record so they can get (or renew) a license out of state.  Many of these email messages are long, and recount the history of a person’s DUI convictions, and/or go on to explain how much they need a driver’s license.  As I read them, my eyes are searching for one thing – mention of sobriety.  All to often, people who send me a long story without any mention of quitting drinking or sobriety don’t pan out to be good candidates to win a license restoration or clearance appeal case.  The point I really want to make in this short and simple article is that sobriety is the absolute first and most important thing –  the real “meat and potatoes” – of a Michigan driver’s license restoration or out-of-state clearance case.

qwd-202x300I have written more about the license appeal process than everything else out there combined.  I haven’t seen much about the sobriety requirement on other legal websites.  By contrast, you would have to try hard to miss it on my site or in any of my articles.  Even the quickest glance at my stuff makes clear that you must have quit drinking in order to win a license appeal.  I provide a first time win guarantee in every case I take.  Yet even in the relevant (although short) guarantee sections of my website, I make clear that sobriety is a non-negotiable requirement.  Experience has convinced me that some people just look at the sheer volume of information I have put out about driver’s license appeals and just figure, “he’s the guy,” without taking the time to read any of my stuff.  If they did, they’d see how I put sobriety front and center in everything.  The only thing I can figure is that some people simply define sobriety differently.  This is an important point because, legally speaking, there is no flexibility here:  The rule set forth by the Michigan Secretary of State, through its Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) states that a license appeal “shall not” be granted unless the person proves that his or her alcohol problem is “under control” and, more important, is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that a person is a safe bet to never drink again.

There is no room in here for the misguided idea of having the occasional drink at home, or a toast at a wedding, or anything else.  The state requires “clear and convincing evidence” to prove you’ve quit drinking, sworn off alcohol for good, and have the commitment and the tools to stay sober for life.  Anything less is not enough, and the hearing officer is required to deny the appeal if you can’t prove that.  In fact, the rule governing these cases specifically begins by reminding the hearing officer that he or she is under a negative mandate to look for the reason(s) to deny an appeal, because it begins with this language: The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence…” [that the person’s alcohol problem is under control and likely to remain under control].  Beyond denying anyone who so much as entertains the possibility of ever drinking again, the whole point of the license appeal process is to examine a person to make sure that, beyond just saying as much, he or she really does live, and is otherwise genuinely committed to, life without alcohol.

Within the more than 360 license restoration articles (as of this writing) I have put up on my blog, only a few have ever explored what goes on at an actual license appeal hearing.  I think that it’s about time to revisit this subject.  As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I attend and conduct license hearings all the time. Indeed, I have 5 scheduled for next week alone.  It is understandable that people tend to think of their hearing as the climax of the license appeal or clearance process.  In truth, however, while it may feel that way, the hearing is actually not the apex of the license restoration or clearance process, and that’s a key point I want to address in this article.

scales-justice-legal-lady-liberty-233x300As important as the hearing is in any license case, it is really the preparation for it that matters even more.  Just a few days ago, as I was “prepping” my client for his hearing the next day, I told him that the proceeding itself would likely be rather short, and that we had probably spent more time preparing for it than we would actually spend in it.  I was right, and in less than a half hour, my client left the hearing room having won back his privilege to drive again.  This may sound trite, but the simple fact is, if you’re going in there to tell the truth, then the hearing isn’t that big a deal after all.  In the context of a license appeal, the Michigan Secretary of State requires you to prove, by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence,” 2 things: First, that your alcohol (and/or substance abuse) problem is “under control,” meaning that you can fix a sobriety date, and then second (and even more important), that your alcohol (and/or substance abuse) problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that you have really quit drinking for good and are a safe bet to not drink again.  If you want to cut right to the heart of the matter, this all means that sobriety is really the “meat and potatoes” of a driver’s license appeal case.  In a word, sobriety is everything.

Here’s why I say the hearing isn’t such a big deal:  I will only take cases for people who are genuinely sober, but in exchange, I guarantee to win every case I take.  When a person has truly gone through the profound transformation from drinker to non-drinker, then the hearing becomes an opportunity to talk about that.  Getting sober isn’t something you can fake, nor is explaining your recovery journey like standing in front of the class, taking some math test where you have to remember calculations and rules.  In a license appeal hearing, it’s you telling your own story, and details aren’t a problem when you tell the truth.  If I’m your lawyer, I’m right there with you, to help.  “Help,” in that sense, means that I ask you questions and make sure that your answers are complete and see to it that your nerves don’t get the best of you.  If you forget or otherwise misstate something, I’m there to make sure we back up and get it right, or otherwise clarify it.  Part and parcel of my job is to have your case memorized, from your sobriety date to who your letter writers are and what they have said about you, and when I walk into that hearing room with you, I sure as hell do.   Let’s turn, now, to how this all plays out in the hearing room…

In part 1 of this article, I began my examination of the role of alcohol and substance abuse related issues in Michigan criminal, DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, and how my specialized background, which includes having completed a post-graduate program of addictions studies, makes my office different.  I pointed out that I balance my overriding mission to help people at all phases of their relationship to substances, but to never become “preachy” or seemingly fixated.  We looked at how alcohol and drug issues are interwoven into the vast majority of criminal cases, and of course, all DUI charges and possession cases.  I cautioned that, as much as I want to help people recognize and deal with substance abuse related issues, there are plenty of situations where I use my clinical knowledge to prevent a person from being perceived as having an alcohol or drug problem they don’t.  This is especially relevant in 1st offense DUI cases, where a drunk driving incident that just happens runs up against the court’s inherent “alcohol bias.”  In this second installment, we’ll turn our focus more to recovery, and how a deep knowledge of recovery and recovery processes is important to the win I guarantee in every driver’s license restoration case I take, and how all of these considerations kind of coalesce in criminal cases.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2017/01/drug-addiction-spiritual-recovery-1.1-289x300.jpgIn the context of a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, understanding recovery is everything.  A person must prove his or her case by what is called “clear and convincing evidence” (this is a high standard of proof; think of it as requiring, in part, that after the evidence in a case is presented, the hearing officer deciding it will not be left with any lingering or unanswered questions).  There are 2 primary things a person must show:  First, the person must demonstrate that his or her alcohol (and/or substance abuse) problem is “under control,” meaning that he or she can fix a sobriety date (this doesn’t have to be an exact date; someone might say, for example, “early fall of 2009,” or something like that), and second, that his or her alcohol (and/or substance abuse) problem is “likely to remain under control.”  This means that the person can show that he or she is a safe bet to never drink (and/or use) again, and has cultivated the commitment and the tools to remain sober.  This is complicated stuff, as anyone who has tried a license appeal before and lost knows all too well, particularly if the person was genuinely sober.

That I really understand recover from the inside-out, the outside-in, and from all the clinical perspectives, as well, provides me with a huge advantage as a license restoration lawyer.  So much so, in fact, that I guarantee to win every case I take.  The catch?  I will only take a case for someone who is truly sober.  As far as I know, I’m the only lawyer who writes anything at all about sobriety, and I am completely certain that amongst every other lawyer out there, I have written more about sobriety than all of them combined – and HUNDREDS of times over, at that.  The job of the Michigan Secretary of State Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) hearing officers is more or less to “test” whether a person is sober or not, and they are very knowledgeable and do their best to examine the clinical information provided in a license appeal case through the lens of the legal requirements that must be met in order to win.  It is the lawyer’s job to make sure that the clinical evidence submitted meets those legal standards.  That task is a HELL of a lot easier when, as the lawyer, I fully grasp the clinical and practical realities involved in getting sober.  For everything that could be said here, the bottom line is this:  If you’re sober, then you know that sobriety is a journey, and not a destination.

The other day, my paralegal, Ashlee, told me of a conversation he had with a caller who had gotten into trouble because of a relapse after having been clean and sober for a number of years.  She smiled as she recalled telling the caller, “Well, you certainly called the right place with us because we kind of specialize in substance abuse matters.”  I nodded in agreement, but as I began to think about it later, realized how accurate Ashlee’s statement really was.  Every single day, for almost all of the day, my staff and I deal with issues related to drinking and drugs in criminal, DUI and driver’s license restoration cases.  These issues are so central to what I do (more on that in a bit) that a number of years ago, I returned to the University campus (no online classes for me) and completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies.  Between handling DUI cases and driver’s license restoration appeals, issues directly related to the development, diagnosis, treatment of and recovery from alcohol and/or drug use disorders are at the core of everything I do.  In this 2-part article, I want to look at the critical importance of understanding substance abuse issues in the context of DUI (OWI) and driver’s license restoration cases, and in certain other criminal cases, as well.

In a 1st offense DUI case, for example, I use my clinical https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2017/01/SA1.1.jpgtraining to prevent a person who does not have a drinking problem from getting caught up in the court system’s inherent “alcohol bias” and wind up being treated like he or she does.  This means I work to prevent them from getting ordered into unnecessary substance abuse counseling, education and/or treatment.  By contrast, when a person with a 2nd offense DUI tries to explain, as many 2nd offenders do, that no matter how bad things look and how much the court system will “think so,” he or she doesn’t have a drinking problem, I have to make clear that, by law, that every 2nd offender is required to complete some kind of counseling.  I must also make clear that, clinically speaking, no matter how much the person does or does not drink, just by their record alone, there is obviously some kind of risky relationship to alcohol.  I have to help my client see that, at this point, labels don’t really matter anymore.  I deal with it all, from 1st time DUI offenders who quite obviously have a serious drinking problem to 2nd offenders who do not, and really are just unlucky, The same holds true for certain criminal charges, and particularly drug and even marijuana possession cases.

The court system is not (and does not have the resources to be) very nuanced or subtle about a person’s relationship to alcohol, operating instead from the position that, if you’re facing a DUI, you probably have some kind of drinking problem.  Lawyers typically line up to make their money by agreeing with and never challenging a client who say, “not me.”  From a business point of view, the customer is always right, so if a client with multiple prior DUI’s calls in and is looking for a lawyer who will echo that he or she doesn’t have problem, it’s a temptation that’s hard for many to resist.  After all, money talks and BS walks, right?  On the flip side, however, nobody really wants to hire some lawyer who thinks he or she is Ms. Sobriety or Mr. Rehab, either, and won’t fight to protect them.  Where, then, is the balance?  I think it’s fair to say that if we are going to be honest here, we need to acknowledge that a lot of the trouble people get into, especially those that result in DUI, criminal or drug possession charges, are the result of poor decisions made after drinking or using.  Imagine if you asked a law-abiding, non-drug using person, “Would you mind keeping these  Vicodin pills (or this cocaine, or whatever) in your pocket while as we drive around?”  They’d look at you like your nuts – but to a drug user, having them in their pocket as they travel around in a car doesn’t seem like such a stupid idea.  The point I’m making is that the court system doesn’t have it completely wrong about alcohol and drug problems and how they “ride in” with various cases, but that same system doesn’t always get it right, either.  Not every DUI driver has a drinking problem.  The lawyer must find the right balance between these seemingly competing positions in order to produce the best outcome possible for the client.  Here’s what I mean…

For everything that has been and can be written about Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals (and there is a lot), all of it can be reduced to one word: Sobriety.  Sobriety is not only the key to winning your license back, it is the foundation (the real meat and potatoes) of the license appeal process; it is the first and a necessary requirement to beginning that process and, very often, the motivator for those who are truly inspired to improve their lives.  To put that another way, while it is understood that everybody “needs” a license, when people get sober, their lives get better; they do things like get married, have kids, and get better jobs.  As their responsibilities in the world rise (a direct result of not drinking anymore), they not only need a license, but want one to ride the wave of their life getting better.  In that sense, sobriety is the cause for life getting better, and that, in turn, becomes the cause for the need to get back on the road.

ad42367d5c022a9c3e2ccfa3bf9879e2-300x300In my numerous writings about the license appeal process, I am very clear that I will only take cases for people who are genuinely sober.  That’s not just some standard that I set.  The whole license restoration system is really focused on that single point; people who have honestly quit drinking for good are no risk to drink and drive again.  Anyone who is seen as a risk to pick up a drink again is also seen as an unacceptable risk to drink and drive again.  The Michigan Secretary of State has drawn a line in the sand, and it separates non-drinkers from everyone else.  I could have just as easily said “drinkers from non-drinkers,” but that’s the kind of wordplay some people try to use as they argue that they don’t really “drink” very much, and, as such, aren’t really “drinkers” anymore.  They’ll insist that they can manage to enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner or such, once in a while, without risk.  The Michigan license reinstatement rules and the court cases interpreting them (and, most importantly, the hearing officers who apply all that to real life cases and make the real-world decisions about who wins and who loses) don’t allow for any of that.  No one in the state system buys the “once in a while” thing about drinking, and the rules specifically forbid anyone who still drinks, however infrequently, from winning their license back. The only people who will even be considered for re-licensure are those who can prove that they have completely given up drinking, and who really mean to stay sober for life.

That last part is important, because plenty of people will figure out enough about the license restoration process to know that the only chance to win back the ability to drive is to convince the state that they won’t drink again.  If it was just as easy as saying so, I’d almost be out of a job, and all anyone would have to do is keep a straight face and tell the hearing officer that they’ve quit drinking for good.  The whole point of the appeal process is to make people prove that they are genuinely sober, and for the AHS hearing officers to sniff out those who are just saying it from those who really mean it. What’s more, since the overriding concern is to make sure that no one who is seen as a risk to ever drink again wins his or her case, it is understood that plenty of genuinely sober people will get denied.  This is just the price for setting the bar so high.  The idea here is that even if a person who has honestly quit drinking gets denied a time or two, they’ll eventually get the right help to be able to prove their sobriety.  And that’s where I come in…

In the previous license restoration article on this blog, I tackled 2 myths about winning a Michigan driver’s license appeal case; the notion that you can’t win your license back the first time you try (I do, and I guarantee it!) and the idea that how much you “need” a license matters.  In this article, I want to dispel 2 more common misconceptions about Michigan license reinstatement cases: 1.) That you need to be in AA to win your license back (you don’t; less than half of my clients are in AA, and I guarantee to win every case I take), and 2.), that, if you’re a Michigan resident, you can avoid getting a restricted license and/or an ignition interlock for the first year (you can’t).  The inspiration for these articles really comes from my experience in answering questions about these topics so many times over the years.  To make sure we start off accurately, let me be clear: First, you don’t need to be in AA to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, and second, if you live in Michigan, the ONLY kind of license you’ll win back is a restricted license, for one year, that also requires you to drive using an ignition interlock device.

MYTH-FACT-300x240Years ago, it was hard to win a license appeal without being in AA.  This is no longer the case, and, as I noted, the majority of clients for whom I win license reinstatements are not in it.  I’ve written rather extensively about this in the past, so I won’t repeat the analysis here beyond pointing out that having been in AA, even briefly, is helpful, but not necessary to win your license back.  Many of my license appeal clients have been to at least a few meetings, but even if you’ve never gone, it won’t hurt your chances to win a license restoration or clearance appeal.  Treatment protocols have changed (I’d like to think evolved) over the years, and now, even a lot of IOP (Intensive Outpatient) programs don’t require AA attendance anymore.

There are 2 kinds of relief you can win if you file a license appeal with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), the body that decides these cases: If you have moved out of Michigan and are a resident of another state, you get what’s called a clearance, which is a removal of the Michigan hold (revocation) on your driving record.  This allows you to get a license in another state.  If you not claimed residency in another state (meaning you still remain a Michigan resident), then you can only win a restricted license and must drive, for at least the first year, with an ignition interlock installed on whatever vehicle you’re using.  You do not need to own a vehicle, but whatever you drive must have an interlock unit.  We’ll get to this later, as well.  Let’s turn first to misconceptions about AA and license restoration appeals…

In this article, I want to clarify 2 common misconceptions about winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration case:  1.) The idea that you can’t (or that it is nearly impossible) to win the first time you try, and 2.) That “needing” a license has anything to do actually winning it back.  As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I’ve heard just about every wrong idea about license appeals that’s out there.  One of the more ironic things I’ve heard from those of my clients who attend AA (less than 1/2 of them do; it’s not necessary) is that they’ve heard other people say, at meetings, that you really can’t win your license back the first time from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), the body that decides these cases.  That’s dead wrong.  I not only do it all the time, but I guarantee it.  The likely reason for this misinformation is that the people spreading it have either tried to do their own license appeal (the doomed “do-it-yourself” appeal) or they hired a lawyer who does not concentrate in license restoration cases.  No matter how you cut it, they lost because the case was not properly handled.

myths_cropped-300x262The second issue we’ll take up is that how much you really need a license has nothing to do your ability to actually win it back.  “Needing” a license isn’t enough; in fact, it doesn’t really matter at all.  To win your license back, or, if you now live out-of-state, to win the clearance of a Michigan hold on your driving record, you must be both legally and practically eligible, as well as genuinely sober (more on this later).  While you cannot win without these things, they are all you actually need to win, and I say this without reservation because I put my money where my mouth is with my first time win guarantee.  The real key to winning back the ability to drive is sobriety.  From the state’s point of view, the person who is a safe bet to never drink again is the safest bet to never drink and drive again.

The license restoration process certainly suffers from the “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing” phenomenon, and in the real world, it spells defeat for “do-it yourselfers” and less experienced lawyers alike.  License appeal cases have the deceptive quality of looking easy, or at least “do-able,” but the truth is that they are complex, and hard, but not hard in the way that one designs space rockets, but rather hard like rolling a heavy boulder up a steep hill.  As a lawyer, you’ve got to get a few hundred of these cases under your belt to really get a “feel” for them.  Most lawyers will probably never do anywhere near a hundred of these cases in their entire career, so that kind of experience is simply out of reach for them.  When correctly handled, however, there is no reason a license appeal cannot or should not be won the first time around, and however much (or not) a person needs a license to drive is completely irrelevant.  Let’s sort this out a bit…

Some people seem to be hell-bent on making things more difficult than they have to be.  This can assume several forms in the context of a Michigan driver’s license restoration case.  In my previous driver’s license restoration articles, I have explained that, however much you one may not like the legal process established by the Michigan Secretary of State that must be followed to win a license back, no amount of complaining about it is going to do a bit of good.  Either you follow the process or not, and unless and until you do, you won’t ever get your license back.  In the course of decades winning license cases, I’ve heard every gripe you can imagine, from the (very much mistaken) idea that the license appeal process is all about money (it is certainly not – the state charges no money and therefore makes none for license appeals) to the notion that there is a conspiracy to “keep you in the system.”  There is not a grain of truth to any “theory” about license restoration appeals other than the correct observation that they are hard because they’re designed to be hard.

complainerThe simple point I want to make in this piece is that some people waste a lot of time just looking for things to complain about, and/or that don’t exist; this applies in both life in general and when it comes to license reinstatement cases.  Believe me, no matter how oppressive the “system” feels, there is no one within the entirety of it trying to sabotage your chances of winning your license back.  Instead, there are very specific procedures and rules that must be followed to win a license restoration or clearance cases, and amongst the hearing officers that decide them, some are more flexible than others.  In the real world, some of the people trying to get their license back follow directions and/or rules better than others, and those that don’t are the ones who have the most difficulty; self-created difficulty, as it turns out.  The license appeal rules are strict, and the requirements demanding, but the only alternative to following them is to keep talking – and thereby keep walking.  One of the most common things I hear comes from someone who cannot accept that license appeals require a person to have genuinely quit drinking, and for good.  It is this person, despite multiple DUI convictions, who insists the rules are not fair, that the state is out to ruin his or her life, and that he or she can still have the occasional drink without being any kind risk.  This person is the textbook example of who the rules are designed to keep from ever driving again, and won’t ever get back on the road until he or she “puts the plug in the jug” and gets sober.  Another difficult-to-deal-with type who tends to make everything harder than it has to be is the one who, upon learning that residents of Michigan must drive for the first year using an ignition interlock, get all frustrated and starts complaining about how and why these machines aren’t reliable, how it’s all about money (you hear that a lot), or why this will never work for them.

After having met all too many of these people over the years, I can only wonder how much easier their lives would be if they lost the bad attitude and just stopped getting in their own way.  The system is what it is, and if a person can just settle down and follow the process, then winning back a driver’s license is a lot easier.  This is not to say that I think the system is perfect; far from it, in fact, but it is what it is.  The Michigan Secretary of State’s procedures for ignition interlock violations is textbook example of frustrating inefficiency.  We all have to do lots of things we don’t want to do, but that’s life.  Even if you have a driver’s license, you might wind up waiting at a Secretary of State branch office for hours to renew it; who “wants” to do that?  If you’ve ever had to call technical support, then you’ve also done something you didn’t want to do.  Certain, people, however, seem to always have a chip on their shoulder.  They’re always pissed off about something, and that makes everything they do harder.  It also makes them unpleasant to everyone else.  They are, to put it simply, difficult people.