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Driver’s License Restoration and Clearance cases are well-suited to start over the phone, and the “down time” many people have now is a good opportunity to begin this process.

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Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we have to correct a lot of misconceptions people have about the license appeal process. In the previous article, we saw how being legally eligible to file a license reinstatement case doesn’t translate to actually being able to win it. In this article, we’ll look at the broader concept of “misinformation,” some of which comes from people in AA. While it is a great recovery program,  some of the things said there are wildly inaccurate, particularly with respect to license appeals.

bababa-300x243Let’s begin with AA in general: some people think that you need to be in AA to win a driver’s license restoration of clearance appeal. That’s 100% dead wrong. You do not need to be in AA to win license appeal case. My team and I guarantee to win every case we take, and most of our clients are NOT in AA. Unfortunately, there are even some lawyers who push this kind of misinformation. Of course, even having gone to a few meetings in the past can be helpful, but it’s rarely necessary.

Recently, we were retained to handle an ignition interlock violation by an existing client for whom we had previously won a restricted license. He is active in AA. As we were gathering information about his violation, he told us that a fellow AA member had told him that when he (the fellow AA member) went for a violation hearing, he was also granted his full license on the spot. This person told our client he should ask for the same. Of course, we had to tell our client that it doesn’t work that way, and then explain why.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, one of the most common misunderstandings we encounter is a person who thinks being legally eligible to file a license appeal is all they need to go ahead and win their license back. This short article will explain why being legally eligible to file a license restoration or clearance appeal is only a starting point, and is not, in and of itself, enough to actually win a license restoration or clearance case.

AAaaa-300x240For all the explanation necessary to clarify this, the fault really lies within the law itself. As written, the Michigan Secretary of State’s rules allow a person to file a license appeal after either a 1 or 5 year revocation. A revocation is either for 1 year, after 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or for 5 years, after 3 DUI’s within 10 years. The rules also require a minimum of 1 year of abstinence from alcohol (and/or drugs), and allow the hearing officer to require an even longer period of “clean time” before issuing a license.

In the real world, NOBODY can win a license appeal with only 1 year of sobriety. In fact, only an exceptional and rare candidate that has any chance of winning a driver’s license reinstatement case with less than 2 years of demonstrable voluntary abstinence from alcohol. This truth is essentially left out of the written rules, and that omission works against anyone who doesn’t know better and plows ahead by filing a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal too soon.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at the 3 questions anyone should consider as he or she looks for a lawyer for a Michigan criminal, DUI or driver’s license restoration case. After we went over a few preliminary considerations like not getting the “hard sell” from some lawyer’s office, we began examining the first of 3 sub-questions from the larger inquiry, “why should I hire you?” and saw why it’s important to find a lawyer whose practice concentrates in the same field as a person’s case.

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Having covered those things, we can turn to the second sub-question anyone looking for a lawyer should have about an attorney or law firm: How available do make useful information relevant to my specific concerns?

I’ve already mentioned this blog as a resource, and while I am proud of it (and think it’s the best out there by far!), there is lots of other information out there, as well. Find it, and see what other lawyers have written and then put up about your kind of case. Reading articles is about the easiest and most anonymous way to at least get some preliminary information about a situation, but a person must also make sure that the information provided is both accurate and reliable.

Anyone looking to hire a lawyer for a criminal or DUI case, a driver’s license restoration appeal (or really for any kind of case) should always consider the question, “why should I hire you?” Even if a person doesn’t directly ask that of some lawyer or law firm, he or she should have clear and direct answers to it. In this article, I want to go over the 3 most important questions a person should keep in mind as he or she considers which lawyer to hire.

3ThingsThe simple truth is that nobody needs a criminal or DUI lawyer because things are going particularly well. In addition, it can be a bit intimidating to call a lawyer. Personally, I HATE having to call people who are in any “hard sell” profession, like insurance or real-estate agents, or anyone who offers “free information” or a “no obligation” consultation that I know will result in a sales pitch. I fear that once any of these “sharks” get my phone number, they’ll hound me forever. Unfortunately some lawyers can be like that, too.

This reticence to call an attorney is likely the same for people who are looking to win back their driver’s license, as well. The whole idea of calling a law office can be stressful, not only because of the dreaded potential “hard sell,” waiting on the other end of the line, but also because the caller has no idea how nice (or not) the person answering the phone might be. This is why looking around online is so great; you have a chance to get some information without being hounded, intimidated, or pressured.

Because we guarantee to win every first time Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance case we take, my office screens potential clients very thoroughly. We’re “tough” because we need to be. Anyone who thinks we’re being too hard will never survive the Michigan Secretary of State’s analysis of their case. Our first priority is to make sure that any client we take can win his or her license appeal, and our guarantee means that we will only take someone’s money when we are sure of that.

0987-300x240By putting our money where our mouths are, we eliminate the risk of anyone taking a “chance” on hiring us to win back his or her license. The deal is that you pay us once, and we get you back on the road, period. I have pointed out before that, although our guarantee is not the industry standard for license restoration cases, it really should be. To me, the lack of a guarantee makes no sense whatsoever, and is like paying the money to a dentist for the “chance” to have your teeth cleaned.

When it comes to a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal, just like going to the dentist’s office to get your teeth cleaned, a person is essentially purchasing a result. Driver’s license restoration cases are different from other legal matters in terms of likely, predictable, and possible outcomes, and if a lawyer isn’t good enough to know how to screen a driver’s license appeal to make sure a potential client is eligible and otherwise meets the necessary requirements to win, then he or she shouldn’t be taking anyone’s money in the first place.

In part 1 of this article, we started looking at the importance of the question, “when is the last time you consumed any alcohol?” within the context of a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. We boiled down the Secretary of State’s position to the simple proposition that, among the people who have had their driver’s license revoked for multiple DUI’s, the only people who can win it back are those who can prove that they’ve given up drinking for good.

2q2-300x231It is an indisputable fact that people who do not drink alcohol pose zero risk to drive drunk. Moreover, the Michigan Secretary of State’s rules require the hearing officer deciding the case to NOT grant the appeal unless the person presents“clear and convincing” evidence that they have been alcohol-free for a sufficient period of time, and that they are a safe bet to never drink again. The person filing the appeal carries the burden of proving these things, not just saying them.

The practical upshot of this is that the hearing officer isn’t sitting there with the scales of justice balanced in the middle, between “yes” and “no,” waiting for someone to submit evidence in order to tip them in his or her favor, toward “yes.” Instead, a person goes into a license appeal with those scales tipped all the way against them, and the burden they have is to pile up enough evidence to not only tip them back to the middle, but then all the way over to their side.

In order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, you have prove that you haven’t had a drink for a legally “sufficient” period of time, and that you have ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free for good. What’s “legally sufficient” will vary from case to case, and we’ll explore that within this article, along with why the first and most important question my office asks any caller is “when is the last time you consumed any alcohol?”

234eeexxxyyz111-300x238Under Michigan law, a person who has lost his or her driver’s license as the result of multiple DUI’s is automatically and completely disqualified from winning a restoration appeal if he or she has consumed any alcohol whatsoever in the past 6 months. That, however, is completely misleading, because, as a practical matter, there is simply NO WAY to win a case if a person has consumed any within last 18 months, and even that’s not enough in many cases. More sober time is always better.

The key to winning a license appeal is showing that you have been alcohol-free for that “sufficient” period of time (we generally require at least 18 months’ of sobriety before filing) and that you are a safe bet to never drink again. To the Michigan Secretary of State, anyone convicted of multiple DUI’s is considered too risky to let drive again, until and unless he or she can show they have given up alcohol for good. This means proving one’s self genuinely sober.

In part 1 of this article, we began examining how a sober lifestyle is required to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. We reiterated that, in order to succeed, a person must prove that he or she has stopped drinking for a legally “sufficient” period of time, and have the commitment and ability to remain sober for life. From there, we began exploring how a person starts changing things in his or her life as they embrace sobriety and transition to a “sober lifestyle.”

2113-300x233Some of these life changes come naturally, and some things are learned through counseling, treatment, or even AA. For example, people who go to AA or counseling are told early on to avoid drinking situations and those who are drinkers (“avoid wet faces and wet places”). Implementing all of this results in a sudden change in who a recovering person hangs around with, where they go, and what they do for fun. Getting sober necessarily requires replacing old habits with new habits.

Soon enough, after his or her last drink, a person getting sober begins to feel better, both physically and emotionally. Often, one of the first changes people make is ditching the drinking buddies. Beyond being told not to, a person beginning to enjoy sobriety usually has no urge to waste his or her time hanging around a bunch of drunks. Whether they get dumped right away or later down the line, at some point, the drinking friends inevitably get left behind as a person moves forward.

In a recent 2-part article, we explored how having given up drinking and being committed to never drinking again is essential to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case. We did that by looking at the negative, meaning how coming up short on either of those things is the quickest ways to lose a license appeal. In this piece we’ll look what’s underneath, at the very foundation of all lasting and successful decisions to quit drinking for good: a sober lifestyle.

q2q2-300x214Remember, the 2 things that every person in a driver’s license restoration or clearance case must prove, by what the law defines as “clear and convincing evidence,” is first, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning he or she has been alcohol free for a legally “sufficient” period of time, and second, that it is “likely to remain under control,” meaning the person has both the commitment and ability to remain alcohol free for life.

These requirements are absolute, and there is no room for any kind of exception to them. What’s needed to win a license appeal is an all or nothing proposition: either a person has quit drinking for good, or not. In the real world, the Michigan Secretary of State won’t even consider giving a license back to anyone who has had it revoked for multiple DUI’s unless he or she can prove they’ve been living living an alcohol-free life and is a safe bet to continue doing so permanently.

The world of driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals had undergone a dramatic change because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Early on, almost all license appeals were on hold, and then the Michigan Secretary of State began offering to do some by video. Now, as of this writing, Secretary of State has announced that it will ONLY do video hearings, and that they will continue indefinitely, as we grapple with the new and evolving “normal.”

3e444-300x216This has necessitated a radical change in the way my team and I will do things in our office, as well. First and foremost, we’ll still GUARANTEE to win every first time license restoration and clearance case we take. That said, I have always preferred face-to-face meetings with clients, and live, in-person license appeal hearings, but the whole coronavirus situation requires us to put that on ice, at least for a while, until this situation passes.

For now, we’re doing client intakes and meetings by video and/or phone, but will resume meeting with people as soon as it’s allowed – and safe to do so.  This is the new reality. As much as I wish things were different, they’re not. People need to drive now, more than ever. Loads of callers have told us they’re nervous about getting into an Uber or Lyft. Others cannot get rides from friends or family that don’t live in their household. This has given people plenty of time to think about how they struggle because they don’t have a driver’s license.

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