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Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

In part 1 of this article about Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, I somewhat sarcastically called the growing number of legal websites with names that use some play on the words “driver’s license restoration” as “McLicense” operations. I began explaining that, instead of having some kind of cutesy name, my team and I are busy actually handling more than 200 of these cases each year, and guarantee to win every first time restoration and clearance appeal we take.

okhlkhlkhlklklkjlklkjlkjI then pointed out how my specific, post-graduate clinical training in addiction studies gives me and my team a significant advantage that helps us win our license appeal cases. I noted that ours is the only recovery-oriented practice I know, and that we believe the most important thing we do is to actually help people. I ended part 1 by making clear that, beyond just having a guarantee, I strongly suggest and wholeheartedly recommend that anyone considering hiring a lawyer for a license appeal check around and compare us to as many other attorneys as he or she possibly can.

To anyone who does follow my advice and calls around, I can say this with absolute certainty: You won’t find another office that is as helpful as ours. Ann, our senior legal assistant, who often answers the phone, knows more about addiction and recovery than 99.9% of all the attorneys I have ever met in my life. Anyone checking out lawyers will learn more about license appeals from a call to our office than anywhere else. This is exactly why I strongly suggest and wholeheartedly recommend that any potential client look around and comparison shop.

Although they can seem easy, driver’s license restoration appeals are, in fact, quite complicated. I’m not suggesting that you need to be a genius to do this work, but rather that there is a lot to them, and that overlooking even one small detail can completely derail a case. A person could memorize all of the written laws and every rule concerning license appeals, but he or she wouldn’t really “know” how they work until observing how they’re applied in the real world by Michigan Secretary of State.

8897-98yhpin--300x283Thus, properly handling license appeals goes beyond just details and rules, and requires understanding how they interact with each other, and how each of the Secretary of State hearing officers interprets them. Over 11 years ago, I began this blog. Back then, I was filing and winning a lot of driver’s license restoration cases. Today, I don’t think any other lawyer or law firm comes close to the more than 200 cases we my team and I handle each year. Another thing that sets us apart, of course, is our guarantee to win every first time restoration and clearance case we take.

Over the last several years, I have noticed a lot of websites popping up using slick names that involve some play or variation of the words “Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer” or something similar. I call these operations “McLicense” lawyers because, to the best of my knowledge, there is no practice that focuses nearly as much on license appeals as ours, nor is as recovery-conscious as ours. Because of our guarantee, we carefully screen every potential client to make sure that his or her case can be made into a winner.

This article will examine the 3rd legal issue present in every Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case. To win, a person must initially prove 2 things: first, that a his order her alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that he or she hasn’t had a drink for a legally sufficient period of time, and second, that his or her alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that he or she has both the ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free for good. The 3rd issue, while ever present, is easy to ignore because it usually “flies below the radar.”

Fatty-268x300The first 2 are non-negotiable, preliminary requirements. To begin, if a person has consumed any alcohol, or used any drugs too recently (normally, we want a minimum of 18 months’ clean time before filing a license appeal, but longer is always better), it’s game over. The Michigan Secretary of State’s rules clearly require a person to prove that he or she has been completely abstinent from alcohol (and/or drugs) for that “legally sufficient” period of time. The exact amount of time required varies from case to case, and can  be affected by a lot of things, including the experience and temperament of the hearing officer deciding it.

The second issue essentially “grows,” or extends from the first, and is a continuation of the idea that a person hasn’t had a drink, and affirmatively intends NOT to ever drink again. Lots of people “stop” drinking for various periods of time, but the Secretary of State’s concern is that a person has made the decision to remain alcohol-free for life. Sticking to that requires making sweeping changes that affect every part of a person’s life, from who he or she hangs out with to the kinds of activities in which they engage, and those that get left behind.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, one of the most frustrating things we deal with is the mistaken belief that needing a license has anything to do with actually being able to win it back after having it revoked for multiple DUI’s. In this article, I want to make clear that being able to win the restoration of one’s driver’s license or obtain the clearance of a Michigan hold on a person’s driving record has nothing to do with a person’s need to drive.

Let’s begin with the candid reality that our practice is in business to make money. Every license case we don’t take is money out the window, and we certainly don’t earn our livings by NOT taking cases. I point this out so that the reader understands our firm has every reason to pursue a viable license appeal case. However, because we guarantee to win each one we take – meaning that we’re stuck with it until it does, in fact, win – we also have every reason to pass on a case that isn’t yet ready to be a winner.

In part 1 of this article, we began discussing why it’s so important that an evaluator have specific experience completing the Michigan Secretary of State’s substance use evaluation (SUE) form in driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals. In part 2, we continued our examination of that subject, pointing out that an integral component of an evaluator learning from experience is getting direct feedback by a driver’s license restoration lawyer about how he or she should be doing evaluations in order to meet the expectations of the Secretary of State.

learn-300x232-1Here, in part 3, we’ll wrap things up, first by concluding our examination of why it’s important that an evaluator get feedback about how to properly complete the substance use evaluation for use in a license appeal, and then, by seeing how the lack of such feedback directly affects out of state license appeals cases, called “clearances.” This will help the reader understand why our firm, which guarantees to win every case we take, always requires that the evaluation be completed by the very experienced evaluator we use.

Feedback is an important component of experience, because unless a person can see what he or she is doing correctly – and what he or she is doing that needs correcting – there is no context or direction to make the appropriate adjustments. As much as there is to the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the flip side is that you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Often enough, when we take on a client who has lost a previous appeal and then hired us to win their case next time, they have no idea of what should have been done differently.

In part 1 of this article about Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals, we began examining the substance use evaluation (SUE) that must be filed with all cases, and the critical importance of the evaluator’s experience in doing them. I said that to gain enough experience, an evaluator should work closely with a lawyer who concentrates in license appeals, and noted that our evaluator often accompanies us to hearings just to see how SUE’s are used by Michigan Secretary of State hearing officers who decide these cases.

21q2-300x288The Secretary of State (SOS) has some very specific expectations and requirements about what kind of information should be provided within the substance use evaluation. Unfortunately, many of these nuances can’t be found in the written rules, and the SOS doesn’t provide any other guidance about them, either. That means that the only way to find out about some tricky issue or other is to run head-first into one of them and learn the hard way, or, in the case of the evaluator, have that knowledge passed on by an experienced driver’s license restoration lawyer.

For example, it is pretty well established that a person generally cannot win a license appeal while he or she is on probation. This is because a person has to prove that his or her abstinence from alcohol (and drugs) is entirely voluntary, and not merely because he or she is forbidden from drinking under threat of penalty. It is a universal condition of probation that a person abstain from drinking alcohol, and violating that term can, potentially, result in being sent to jail.

The substance use evaluation (SUE) is the very foundation of a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. Often mistakenly called a “substance abuse evaluation,” its fundamental role in the license appeal process is frequently overlooked, although an insufficient evaluation is, in fact, the reason many cases wind up being denied. In this article, I want to narrow the focus from the evaluation itself to the person who completes it – the evaluator.

If there’s a common thread that runs through world of license restoration cases, it’s that too many people without enough license appeal experience – from people filing their own cases to lawyers, and even substance abuse counselors, look over the required documentation and mistakenly think, “I can do that.” The fact, is, most can’t – at least not in the way the Secretary of State wants it done, and this particularly apples to the SUE and stands as a key reason for many denied appeals. No matter how you cut it, nobody loses a license restoration appeal case because everything within it was done correctly.

Our firm guarantees to win every first time Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance case we take. This protects you, as the client, from risking your money, because it means you’ll only pay us once to get back on the road. Our guarantee also means that a question, like, “what do you thing my chances are?” is lame, because if we take your case, you will get your license back – period. Key to our success, though, is that we don’t take just and and every case that comes our way. In the short video below, I explain how we can make our guarantee:

In fact, we have to decline a lot of potential clients, because the single most important and non-negotiable precondition to winning a license reinstatement case is that you must have given up drinking for good. While everyone who has lost their license after multiple DUI’s wants it back, only a minority of the people who contact us have actually quit drinking and gotten sober. If a person hasn’t done both those things, and for a long enough period of time, then they don’t (yet) meet the requirements to win a license appeal, and we won’t take their case (yet).

In parts 4 and 5 of this article, we continued our analysis of why it’s more important to accurately understand a person’s relationship to alcohol than it is to label it, having shifted our focus from DUI cases to in parts 1, 2, and 3, to Michigan driver’s license appeal cases in parts 4 and 5. Here, in part 6, we’ll finish this examination, pickup up right where we left off, and continue looking at the imprecise but ongoing use of the term “alcoholic” in license restoration cases, and why that’s important.

lkjl-300x263In the world of driver’s license restoration appeals, the idea that a person may be an alcoholic isn’t fixed in any kind of quest for diagnostic specificity, nor is using it an attempt to label someone as having a problem that’s somehow “worse” than it actually is. In a license reinstatement case, the term “alcoholic” is often used in the broadest sense – to describe someone who knows that he or she has come to a point where they simply can’t drink anymore. That a person understands this is crucial in a Michigan driver’s license restoration case.

Remember, to win a license restoration or clearance appeal, a person must prove 2 things, by what the law defines as clear and convincing evidence: First, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning they haven’t had a drink in a legally sufficient period of time, and second, that his or her alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” which means he or she has both the ability and commitment to never drink again.

In this 5th part of this series, we’re going to continue our examination, from part 4, of how the specific nature of a person’s relationship to alcohol is more important than any label term (like “alcoholic”), within the context of Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration cases. Here, we’re going to flip things around a bit and see how such labels, however obsolete in the clinical setting, still linger in people’s minds, and how that plays a role in the license appeal process.

bbb-300x278In license restoration cases, my team and I see every stage of alcohol problems, from the very mildest to, those who were that kind of last-gasp drinker, to everyone in-between. As I noted before, nobody goes from being a normal drinker one day to a full-blown, dried-up, last gasp drunk the next. The Michigan Secretary of State knows that a troubled relationship to alcohol builds over time. As a result, its primary concern is where a person is with that, both in terms of their past drinking and whether or not he or she truly believes they can’t ever drink again.

As pointed out in part 3, AA people tend to identify as “alcoholic” more than everyone else, and they do that independent of any formal diagnosis. In other words, an AA member that might otherwise merely be characterized as having a “drinking problem,” more than being any kind of “alcoholic,” is still more likely to simply describe him or herself as alcoholic as opposed to someone  who is not in AA. The reason this matters is because, by accepting that label, the person also accepts that he or she cannot ever safely drink again, and knows that, if they do ever pick up again, it’s nothing less than a relapse.

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