Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

This article was suggested by Ann, my senior assistant, as a short follow up to my last piece, “Hire the best Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer,” in which I asked (and hopefully answered) the question “why hire me?”  Ann, who spends her entire workday dealing with driver’s license restoration and DUI issues, is, of course, a bit biased.  She directly fields calls from other lawyers who need help dealing with driver’s license issues.  Heck, I’ve been thanked by some of those lawyers for the help she provided to them.  She knows that, with this blog, and my website, and 12 or more appeal hearings I hold every month – all covered by a first time win guarantee, we are the best, and set the gold standard for license restoration and clearance cases.  Thus, Ann suggested  2 reasons why people don’t hire me: either it’s the money, or they’re not ready.

1stlogo-300x257I’m not cheap.  Sure, you can pay less, but you can also pay more for a license appeal.  Whatever else, you absolutely cannot do better.  I guarantee to win every case I take, but even that assurance, by itself, doesn’t even begin to define the quality of my license appeal representation.  More than any lawyer out there, I love this line of work.  I am consumed by the cases I take, and throw myself headlong into them.  I earn my money, not just by the results I produce, but through the effort I put in to achieve them.  To be completely honest about it, there’s not much intrinsic reward for handling a criminal or DUI charge.  A driver’s license restoration or clearance case, however, is completely different.  In fact, there is no practice (at least that I know of) a lawyer can have that’s anywhere near as rewarding as winning back the ability to drive for people who have done the work to become non-drinkers and gone through the profound life changes required to get sober.  Here, my efforts are frequently met with tears of joy and genuine expressions of gratitude.  My clients deserve to win, and it’s great reward to make that happen.  This reinforces a true passion for my work.  At the heart of my passion is the unique mix of legal, clinical and communication abilities that I bring to the table.  And before you pass that off as a bunch of hot air, let me be very specific about what that means, and how it comes together to get you back on the road.

In terms of being a driver’s license restoration lawyer, I am as good as it gets.  There may be a few old hands out there who “know” as much as I do about the legal process, but in that sense, I belong to a group that is smaller than a handful.  There is really nothing about the license appeal process that I don’t know well, or haven’t worked through before.  I do more cases in any given month than most lawyer will do in a year, and in the course of any given year, I will have handled more cases than any group of lawyers will in an entire career.  Now, multiply that by more than 25 years.  But that’s not even the half of it, because I am the ONLY lawyer I know to have a clinical substance abuse background, much less to have completed a post-graduate (as opposed to undergraduate) program of addiction studies.  Because of my unique practice (DUI and license restoration), I have, on a professional level, dealt with alcohol (and drug) issues all day, every day for my whole career.  Personally, I have had to deal with these same issues across the broad spectrum of family and friends, as well, and I know this stuff from the outside looking in, the inside looking out, and every other perspective in-between.  In a field like license restorations, where main focus is the diagnosis, treatment and recovery from alcohol problems, having a clinical background in those very things is helpful, useful and provides an decided advantage in every single case.  I have, quite literally, learned and then forgotten things (like theories of addiction) that most people have never even heard about.

No one publishes as much information about the Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance process as I do on this blog.  Although I’ve resisted for a while, I’m doing this very short article about why you should hire me for your license appeal case at the urging of my own staff and some friends who have convinced me that it needs to be done.  I am, by nature, an explainer.  I’m also diplomatic, polite, and while confident, relatively modest, as well.  I know that my library of articles has become a resource for lawyers to learn.  I am well aware that since I began publicizing my practice, a whole group of driver’s license restoration legal operations has come into existence, marketing themselves as some kind of specialists in my field.  I have answered countless emails and phone calls from and helped other lawyers who have found themselves “stuck” on some part of the license restoration process.  This does not trouble me because, when all is said and done, I know that, by far, I am best.  I am the guy who wrote (and is still writing) the book on this subject, and that in the course of any given year, I win more license appeals than anyone, and probably over than 10 times more than just about all of them put together ever will.  It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and while that’s true, just like a Rolex watch, a fake is just never as good as the real thing.  I am the original, and therefore the real thing.  Nobody does license cases like I do.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2017/07/hire-2.0-256x300.jpgHere’s a hard fact: I have been hired to fix up and win the cases lost by just about every lawyer out there, but no one has ever had to do the same for me because I don’t lose.  In fact, not only do I win virtually every case I take the first time around, I actually guarantee to do just that.  Chances are, if you talk to any lawyer about license restorations, he or she has learned something about the process from this blog.  Yet for all the bragging I can do about being the first, the best, the original and the single biggest source of information about license appeals, what really sets me apart from everyone else is my fundamental understanding of recovery.  I know all about what it’s like to go from drinker to non-drinker from the outside looking in, the inside looking out, and every perspective in-between.  Beyond that, I have completed a formal, post-graduate program of addiction studies, and have a full academic and clinical understanding of the development, diagnosis and treatment of addiction issues.

And if all that sounds too diplomatic, it means that in the world of license restoration and clearance cases, where the development, diagnosis, treatment of and recovery from alcohol problems is the entire focus, I am the foremost expert on the subject, by about a million times over.  Period.  No one else comes close.  And this, in turn, explains why I guarantee to win every case I take.  Of course, everybody wants to win, and paying for anything less than a guaranteed victory doesn’t make any sense to me, but there’s more to it than just winning.  When you sit across the table from me, you’ll see my passion for what I do.  My drive to win isn’t just about not losing, its about helping people.  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING a lawyer can do is as rewarding as helping someone get what they deserve, and for which they have worked so hard.  If you’ve lost your license for multiple DUI’s and put in all the effort to get sober, you deserve to win it back.  To this day, my eyes still moisten when I sit next to a client and he or she chokes up with gratitude after hearing they’ve won.  In fact, that just happened the very day this article was written; I had won my client’s case the first time around, and today’s hearing was to finish the job and get his “full” license without the interlock or restrictions.  When the hearing officer congratulated him and announced her (winning) decision, his voice cracked and his eyes welled up with tears of joy, and I felt a lump rise in my throat, too.  I hope the day never comes when I don’t share in the joy of winning, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume that, after more than 25 years of doing this, since it hasn’t stopped so far, I don’t have to worry about becoming jaded anytime soon.

When you file a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal, it will ultimately be a hearing officer from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) who decides whether you win or lose.  The hearing officer is, therefore, critically important.  In this article, the next in my loose series (LS) about the license restoration process, we’ll pick up from the last installment, where we looked at the standard of proof and examined how the evidence submitted in a license appeal case is evaluated, and what level it must reach.  Here, we’ll look at the people who evaluate that evidence and determine if it hits the required level.  I’ve already written numerous articles for this blog that explore the role of the hearing officers and who they are, so we’ll keep this one short by not repeating too much of what’s already been covered there.

Gavel-main-300x253If there’s any kind of starting point to all this, it’s that every hearing officer is unique.  Someday, in the future, with the rise of artificial intelligence, it may be a robot doctor that diagnosis and treats your ailment, and a robot mechanic that repairs your self-driving car, and, by that time, robot Judges and hearing officers that evaluate evidence and decide cases.  The thing is, when that happens, there will be no individuality in terms of how Judges and hearing officers actually think about things.  Until then, the human touch will be part of every license appeal decision, and I firmly believe that’s a good thing.  I believe that so strongly that I have NEVER even considered doing a video hearing in any of my cases, although it would be a lot more convenient for me to just travel 5 minutes to the nearest video location, rather than having to drive an hour each way to do it live.  I truly believe that it is vitally important that the hearing officer be able to look right into my client’s eyes and read his or her body language during the hearing.  That authentic human quality, does, however, come with an unavoidable element of inconsistency (something that will, for better – and probably for worse, as well – be lost in the age of artificial intelligence).  Fortunately, because I know these hearing officers very well, I can effectively neutralize that problem because of the consistent and regular experience I have appearing before them.

To be sure, there are certain “core” issues that concern all hearing officers equally, and there is a fairly large group of the same questions that will be asked by, or for each.  And if that last sentence is confusing, then the explanation brings us to a key point about the uniqueness of the hearing officers.  All of my cases are heard in the Livonia Office of Hearings and Appeals, where there are 5 hearing officers.  Within that group, 3 of the 5 want the lawyer to ask all of the questions and essentially “run the show” at the hearing, while the other 2 hold a more traditional, old-school hearing wherein the lawyer sets thing up by asking a few questions, and then kind of steps aside for the hearing officer to ask most of the questions him or herself.  Yet even within that rather broad landscape, I need to know what kinds of questions each of the 3 “you do it” hearing officers wants asked, and then make sure to ask them.

In the previous articles in what I’m calling this “loose series” (LS) about Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, we began with my first meeting with a new client, moved on to the substance use evaluation (SUE), and, most recently, covered the letters of support.  In this installment, I want to put those things in perspective and examine the standard of proof used by the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) to evaluate that evidence and decide these cases.  In other words, I want to look at specifically how these cases win or lose.  The SUE and support letters have to meet certain criteria (think of it as reaching a certain level), to be good enough, so making sure they do is the major part of what we spend 3 hours doing at our first meeting.  This means we need to really understand what that “certain level” is all about.

evidence-263x300Technically speaking, the legal standard used in deciding license appeals is “clear and convincing evidence.”  I’ve provided some rather detailed explanations of what that means in other articles, so we won’t rehash all of it here, except to note that for as complicated a standard as this can be (an old joke is that if you asked 12 Judges what it meant, you’d get 13 opinions), at least within the context of a driver’s license reinstatement case, “clear and convincing” means a lot what it sounds like.  Your evidence needs to be clear, as in leaving the hearing officer with no unanswered questions, and it must be convincing, as in compelling.  Going a long period without any DUI’s or other trouble may support the idea that a person has stopped drinking, but it is hardly clear proof (what if the person was out of the country, or living somewhere remote) and falls far short of compelling, as well (maybe he or she has just been lucky).  When you think “clear and convincing,” you need to think of terms like crushing it, flying colors, or hitting it out of the park.  Clear and convincing is never quiet and unassuming; it’s like that loud friend or relative who can be loud and embarrassing, but still lovable.

That’s not even the half of it, though, because the clear and convincing legal standard doesn’t function by itself.  Instead, that standard is set by the main rule governing license appeals, which specifies that “The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following….”  In other words, this rule commands the hearing officer to NOT grant an appeal unless the person proves the 2 main legal issues (1 – that your alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning you haven’t had a drink for some time, and 2 – that your alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that you’re a safe bet to never drink again) by evidence (SUE, support letters and testimony) that rises to the level of “clear and convincing.”  Thus, no matter how sober you may really be, the hearing officer’s job is way more about looking for a reason to deny your appeal than looking at all the reasons to grant it.  This may sound harsh, but, as we’ll see, there’s a good reason for the rule to be so exclusionary.

To file a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), you need to submit certain evidence.  In the last article in what I’m calling this “loose series” (LS) about license appeals, we looked at the substance use evaluation (SUE), and described it as essentially being the foundation of license restoration and clearance cases.  In this piece, we’ll turn to the other major required evidentiary component required in every case, the letters of support.  The SUE and the support letters are almost like bookends in this process, and are the 2 supporting pillars of your case.  As I’ve pointed out in the previous installments, license appeals require proving 2 primary issues: first, that your alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that you can fix a sobriety date, or a time frame that you’ve been sober, and second, that your alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that you can show you’re a safe bet to not drink again.  I often speak of the the second issue as more important, not because it matters more, but rather because it’s somewhat harder to prove.  It’s that fist issue that concerns us here – that you’ve stopped drinking, and it’s the letters of support that are the primary evidence submitted to prove it.

100_4483-300x225In the course of my practice, I review and edit well over 500 letters of support per year.  I can honestly say that over 95% of them need help.  To put this another way, of the 500-plus support letters I read annually, only about 25 (that’s about 2 each month) are good enough “as is.”  As a result, I live in a world surrounded by red pens.  I point this out because there is almost no way for anyone to get the letters “right” without the help of substantial editing.  I provide my clients with a sample or template letter in the folder I give out at our first meeting, but I also explain that all the letters need to come back to me in rough draft form, and that the client should expect all of them returned with suggested edits, usually in red ink.  Getting letters of support in good enough shape to be filed takes a lot of work, and most of it is on my part.  That, of course, is part of what you’re paying for.

It’s much easier to discuss what the letters are not, and should not be, rather than how they should be written.  Besides, it’s no secret that lots of other lawyers use my blog and resources to help with license restoration issues.  I field plenty of calls from attorneys around the state who’ve gotten stuck on some point or other, and while I’m flattered, and glad to help, I’m not about to give away the proprietary formula I use in revising my client’s support letters anymore that Busch’s Baked Beans or KFC is about to give away their secret recipes, either.  The one thing I can say is that if there is any universal constant to that underlying formula, it’s that the letters have to be genuine.  Better letters are better in every sense, and not only stand as support for a person’s sobriety, but often enough either detail a person’s transition from drinker to non-drinker, or, as in the case of someone who didn’t know the person before he or she quit drinking, at least extoll the depth of the person’s commitment to remaining alcohol free.  Good support letters are far more complex than what a college of mine calls “good guy letters.”

The previous article in the driver’s license restoration section of this blog began what I’m calling a loose series (LS) about how license appeal cases work, how I do them, and what’s required to win.  We started off in that first piece by examining my first meeting with a new client.  In this installment, we’ll pick up by looking at what I described as the “foundation” of a license reinstatement or clearance appeal before the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), the substance use evaluation, or “SUE.”  One point to clarify at the outset is that most people (myself included) often – but incorrectly – call the substance use evaluation a “substance abuse evaluation.”  Although we mean the same thing, the correct and technical term used by the state is substance use evaluation, and thus the abbreviation “SUE.”  In that last article, I made clear that my first meeting with a new client lasts about 3 hours, and has, as its primary goal, to prepare him or her to leave my office and go to my evaluator to have the SUE completed.  The evaluation must be filed with the AHS as part of a larger package of documents to formally begin the license appeal process.

evaluationTo understand the role of the SUE form, you first need to really grasp its importance.  Under the main rule governing license restoration and clearance appeals, the hearing officer is required to “not order that a license be issued” unless a person proves his or her case by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence.”  We will of course, cover the “clear and convincing” evidence standard later, in another installment, but for our purposes now, you can take that to mean that the hearing officer is required to deny your appeal unless the evidence you submit, meaning your proofs, leaves him or her with no unanswered questions.  “Clear,” in that sense, means exactly what it sounds like – clear, and unambiguous.  Thus, the SUE must be completed with accurate and precise information.  There is almost no flexibility here, and certainly no “loose-goosey” or “close enough” with respect to what’s in it.  You can’t approximate or leave things out of the evaluation, either, unless those omissions or approximations are appropriately noted and specifically addressed within it.  And there’s a quick caution here, because if you don’t know exactly what all that means, then you won’t know if an evaluation is good enough, or not.

The larger idea here is that the evaluation is really important.  If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t spend 3 hours getting every new client ready for it.  Remember, there are 2 primary issues in license restoration and clearance cases:  First, that your alcohol problem is “under control,” (the primary evidence submitted on that score are the letters of support, a subject we’ll cover in the next installment of this series), and second, that your alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control.”  The SUE’s primary evidentiary purpose is to address that second, and harder to prove, legal issue. Given its purpose and role in the license appeal process, the point of the evaluation itself is to provide a clinical, independent and objective assessment of how safe a bet you are to not drink again – a direct answer to the question posed by that second issue.

Every one of my driver’s license restoration and clearance cases formally begins with a first meeting in my office.  This meeting is a big deal; not only does it last at least 3 hours, but it serves several very significant purposes, and really is the foundation for how and why I guarantee to win every driver’s license appeal I take.  This article will be the first (others following about every 2nd or 3rd posting) in a loose series (LS) about the license restoration process, the required evidence and legal issues involved, and how I do things in my office.  To keep things simple, I will, for the most part, write to and for the reader him or herself, and use the more informal “you,” rather than the endlessly confusing “he or she” and “him or her.”  Our first meeting takes place by appointment, and that appointment is made after we’ve screened you to make sure you are both legally and practically eligible to file, and, more importantly, win, a license reinstatement case.

mains-2-248x300It’s probably easiest to explain the importance and various functions of our first meeting by examining it from beginning to end – from first handshake to last.  Although the meeting itself will proceed identically, all of my clients fall into either 1 of 2 categories: Michigan residents who will have their driver’s license restored, or out of state residents who will get a clearance of the Michigan Secretary of State’s “hold” on their driving record so they can get a license in another state.  Many of my clients come from out of state, and when they do, we schedule them to meet with me first, and then leave my office and go directly to the evaluator’s for their substance use evaluation (usually, but incorrectly, called a “substance abuse evaluation”) so that it can be a “one and done” trip back to Michigan.  Whichever your situation, once you arrive at my office, your journey to driving again gets underway.

When your make your appointment, you’ll be asked to bring some documents.  These include a current driving record (if you haven’t already sent it to me for review) and anything related to any prior license appeals you’ve tried.  Of course, it’s better to just bring everything you think might be relevant, like awards, certificates,  and diplomas (and, if you attended AA meetings, sign-in sheets, although AA is absolutely NOT required to win your license back).  Before I go any further, I should point out that, although AA is not necessary to win a license appeal, genuine sobriety is an absolute requirement to win your license case, and a non-negotiable pre-condition for me to undertake representation.  I am absolutely, 100-percent NOT interested in any case where a person hasn’t honestly quit drinking and thinks he or she can say what I want them to say, or need them to say.  I want each of my clients to be telling the truth about getting sober, in  no small part because the real meat and potatoes of a license restoration case is all about proving that sobriety.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about my pre-hearing “prep-session” that I have before every driver’s license restoration or clearance hearing I handle.  I do these preps with all of my clients, and feel that it is not only key to my success, but also helps alleviate much of my client’s pre-hearing stress.  It’s normal, as the hearing date approaches, for a person to be apprehensive and nervous, so I want to help my client gain a sense of calm, and confidence.  When I’m done, beyond merely having made my client ready for the hearing, I will have also demystified the whole hearing process for him or her so that they understand there’s no real reason to be fearful.  It is important that when my client walks into the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) hearing room, he or she knows exactly what to expect.  Equally important is that my client has the security of knowing he or she doesn’t have to remember any sketchy details of some kind of BS story, because we’re going in to tell the truth.

Prep1-300x217As much as preparing for the hearing is really about the client, and for all it involves, the process begins with me reviewing his or her file.  I chose those last few words carefully, because although it would almost sound the same had I written “…reviewing the file,” I never lose sight of the fact, and I have to  make sure the hearing officer also never fails to understand, that the decision he or she will be making is about a person, and not just a “file.”  It can be easy, in larger, institutional settings, to think of a person as being synonymous with his or her case, or file.  Dan the Driver may have license appeal case number 123456, but what’s inside that file is all about a 3-dimensional person (Dan), and equate to a lot more than just a 2-dimensional stack of papers.  When I open a client’s file for prep review, I read every last thing in it, and take the time to memorize it.  As someone’s lawyer, I not only need to have instant recall of every bit of evidence in the case, but also how that 2-dimensional evidence fits into the context of my client’s 3-dimensional life.  Before I pick up the phone to call my client, I will not only have memorized his or her case, but also how it reflects his or her individual and personal recovery story.

This matters beyond just sounding like some kind of good “We care about you!” sales pitch.  Thorough hearing prep requires a hell of a lot more than just some generic “heads up” about the kinds of questions that will be asked.  All of my hearings are held in the Livonia Hearings and Appeals Office, where 5 hearing officers preside.  Each one has his or her own particular concerns about sobriety and the license appeal process.  A key focus of my preparation will not only focus on the particular hearing officer, but the concerns and questions he or she will have about each specific case.  This means that if Sober Sandy’s evidence shows she attended AA while on probation, but no longer goes, the questions she will be asked by one hearing officer about why she no longer attends will be different than the questions put to her by a different hearing officer under those same facts.  And if this isn’t enough, those questions will be different if Sandy has never attended AA, and different still if she claims to currently go to meetings.  The point is that each case is one big set of fluid variables, and the hearing officer is another set of mixed variables, and preparing of a hearing requires me to know all of them first, and then connect those that are going to be relevant.  Anything less is, well, unprepared.

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of that joyful moment when you win your license back by observing that, as a condition to getting there, a person has to stop drinking in the first place.  I pointed out that although my client’s gratitude is the ultimate reward for my work as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I fully expect to win every license restoration and clearance appeal case I take, and actually guarantee to do so.  We then moved on through why people decide to quit drinking, and how staying quit is really the key, and began examining the difference between mere abstinence and true sobriety.  We left off with our example of Snake the Biker, who hasn’t had a drink in 4 years, and is therefore abstinent, but hardly sober, because as much as he has stopped himself so far, Snake still wants to drink.  Here, in part 2, we’ll resume by looking at the difference between abstaining from alcohol when one hasn’t yet lost the urge to drink and real sobriety, where a person has moved past thoughts of drinking and no longer feels any strong urges to pick up again.  From there, we’ll work our way to that magic moment when a person actually find out they’ve won their license back!

tears-pf-joy-5-300x257Sobriety stands in stark contrast to mere abstinence kept in place by a person’s fear of the negative consequences that will follow if he or she picks up again.  A person who is genuinely sober first thinks of how much better life has become since he or she quit drinking, and how much better he or she feels now.  It’s not that the sober person has forgotten all the bad things that will happen if he or she starts drinking again, but it’s that all of them are really secondary to the better life he or she is enjoying because of his or her sobriety.  If Snake ever got really sober, he’d either quit the gang and/or join a club for sober bikers, and be happy to get away from his old lifestyle.  He’d say the last thing he wants to do is waste his weekends with a bunch of drunken yahoos.  If you’re really sober, and you’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to interact with someone who is drunk, it’s quite the opposite of any kind of temptation to drink again.  Instead, you cringe, and think, “that was me,” and realize what an utter waste of breath, life and time all that was.

Sober people ditch the drinking buddies, get better jobs, complete degrees, get married, have kids, save money and then look at what they’ve built up and realize none of it would have been possible had they not put the plug in the jug.  A commitment to sobriety really starts out as a commitment to abstinence, but then it sticks, and the person slogs through the early stages not only wanting a life without alcohol, but wants more than what they had in their life when they were drinking.  By the time anyone quits, drinking wasn’t fun anymore.  Getting and staying sober takes work and time.  It’s not always easy.  Plenty of times a person will have to dismiss the idea of a toast of champagne or a glass of wine when the “stinking thinking” creeps up and that inner voice says something like, “Sure, we know we can’t really “drink” anymore, but c’mon, it’s been a while and surely we can just pretend to be normal and have just one.”  Sobriety means knowing this voice will always be there, but learning to ignore it so that it blends into the background noise of life, to the extent that you really don’t hear it anymore.  Abstinent people never quite get that far, and always have to fight it.  Acceptance that one can and will never drink again is a big part of sobriety.

Some articles practically write themselves.  In my role as a Michigan driver’s license appeal lawyer, I have created this blog, and to date, have published over 375 license restoration articles.  Just about every one of them is a rather detailed look at some aspect of the license appeal process, and some require a lot of effort (not that I’m complaining) and/or turn out to be multi-part installments.  I’ve learned a lot through this process, both from having to research some of the finer points I make, as well as figuring out how to explain them.  This article will be an easy one, and, because it’s the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I’m going to treat myself to the luxury of a 2-part installment that will (hopefully) be both a pleasure to read and write.  Here, I want to zoom in on that moment when my client wins his or her appeal.  It is often a very emotional moment for him or her, and is a natural high to me, because it really is the ultimate reward for my work in every license reinstatement case I handle.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2017/05/TearsOfJoy-2.0.jpgI expect to win every license appeal I take.  Indeed, I guarantee to do just that, so it’s not like winning comes as any kind of surprise to me.  It is, however, kind of like a cherry on top of my ice cream when I’m at a hearing and the decision is announced and my client suddenly realizes that all the work has finally paid off and his or here eyes start welling up.  Those are powerful moments, and being part of them is moving and rewarding.  It’s not just the “win,” however, that’s so great, it’s the fact that it is a recognition of what a person has done over the preceding years to deserve it that really makes this so special.

Before we can really appreciate the end result of a successful license restoration or clearance appeal, we need to remember that the real meat and potatoes of these case is sobriety.  The Michigan Secretary of State, through its Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), is required to deny a license to anyone unless that person proves, by clear and convincing evidence, that his or her alcohol problem is under control, and likely to remain under control.  This means a person has to prove when and why he or she got sober, and that he or she has both the commitment and tools to remain sober for life.  Nobody ever thinks of quitting drinking because it’s working out so well.  Instead, a person quits drinking when it’s just too much trouble  As anyone who has done this knows, sobriety is much more of a journey than a destination.  Sobriety is a way of life, and a state of mind that requires profound life changes in order to be sustained.  It’s all of this, and not just getting the license back, that overcomes a person when they learn they’ve won.