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Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration attorneys who guarantee to win every first time license appeal and clearance case we take, we do, quite literally, hear it all. It is an everyday thing for us to hear how much someone has changed since they gave up drinking, and that they’re now ready to move forward in life and drive again. In much the same way that getting sober is the first thing a person must do to have any chance of winning a driver’s license appeal, actually starting the process to get it back is often the last step in that journey.

servicespuzzle-300x260-300x260I cannot say this enough: the whole point of a Michigan driver’s license reinstatement appeal is to prove to the Michigan Secretary of State that you have given up drinking for good. This requires showing 2 things: first, that you have been completely abstinent from alcohol for a “sufficient” period of time (in my office, we generally want our clients to have a minimum of 18 months of sobriety) and second, that you have the commitment and ability to never drink again. Key to this is that you’ve gotten sober for yourself, not just to get your license back.

It is a huge thing when someone quits drinking because they’ve finally “had enough.” From that point forward, everything about their life changes, and all for the better. This is what recovery and sobriety is all about. The simple fact is that a person cannot really get sober for anyone else or for any reason other than wanting it for themselves. When a person gets sick and tired of all the problems caused by drinking and then finally makes the decision to give it up completely, there is often a lot of repair work to be done in their lives. It’s normal for many of their close relationships to have been damaged (if not broken) because of alcohol.

As a Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance lawyer, I provide more information about the license appeal process on this blog than can be found any and everywhere else combined. I’m proud of the more than 500 driver’s license restoration articles I have written and published on this blog. Within them, I cover every aspect of restoration and clearance cases, sometimes in downright granular detail. In this piece, I want to explain a bit about the letters of support, and why this subject comprises the leanest part of my written archives.

TYP-3-300x239First, the letters of support are a critical, and, indeed, foundational part of every license appeal. Although there is a lot that goes into a driver’s license restoration and clearance case, the 2 “pillars” of each are the substance use evaluation and the letters of support. The simple truth is that the support letters can either make, or break, a case. Among other things, they must be signed, timely notarized, and provide certain and specific information about the subject’s abstinence and/or sobriety.

Second, the letters of support must be specific to each case. As I have often pointed out in other articles, each case is unique, and if there is one place where this really comes through, it’s in the letters. Many law firms, ours included, provide every client with some kind of example letter or letters, or at least a template for their letter writers to follow. The catch is that these things are merely guidelines, and should only be used to show the kind of information that should be included within the letters.

As the Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer who puts out the most information about license appeals, I try to examine every aspect of the process within the more than 500 articles on this subject I have published to date. There is, however, one theme I must return to regularly, and it will be the point of this article – the fact that you must have given up drinking in order to be able to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. Being sober is the absolute key to filing a license appeal that has any chance of success.

FirstThingsFirstIn my numerous articles, I try to come at this subject from a slightly different angle each time. This time, I want my take to be “brief,” as in “short.” The bottom line in a Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals is that they are all about proving you have quit drinking for good. Of course, license appeals are complicated, but unless a person can prove that he or she has been alcohol-free for a sufficient period of time, and also has the commitment to remain alcohol-free for good, NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.

Indeed, the whole reason I have to bring this topic back to center-stage so often is that most people overlook this simple fact, and focus, instead, on how much they need a license, or how long they’ve gone without one. As one of the Michigan Secretary of State hearing officers puts it, “everybody needs a license.” That, however, has absolutely nothing to do with being able to win it back. No matter what a person’s circumstances, the laser-sharp focus of the state is going to zero in on when he or she last consumed alcohol (we prefer a minimum of 18 months’ abstinence to file a case) and his or her intention to never drink again.

In many of my articles about driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals, I point out that anyone who now lives out of state and can’t get or renew a license there should come back here to do a proper clearance appeal. My office requires our clients to return to Michigan to meet with us, have their evaluation completed, and then attend the actual hearing. In exchange for that, we provide a guarantee to win every license appeal case we take. In this article, I want to focus on one of the key reasons we do it this way: control.

268x0wThe idea of “control” means that we direct, oversee, and do quality assurance over every part of the process, including the planning of the appeal, getting it ready, and then ultimately, filing it. Specifically, we meet with every client for several hours prior to him or her going to the required substance use evaluation (SUE). We arrange things so that the client will meet with us first, then go directly to the evaluator’s office from ours. This makes the whole trip back to Michigan a “one and done” deal, and it allows us to guarantee a successful result, and far outweighs any inconvenience of having to come back.

Our guarantee to win stands in stark contrast to the reality of administrative, or “do-it-yourself” appeals: each year, 3 out of every 4 them, what we call an “appeal by mail,” are denied. However, rather than waste time and effort trying to talk someone out of going this route, it’s far easier for me and my team to simply say that, if you’re inclined to try an administrative appeal, then go for it. If it works out, good for you, but if it doesn’t, then call us after. As it turns out, many of our clients have done just that, and when they do contact us, they’re ready to get down to the business of actually winning.

The Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) specifically provides a notice of proper ignition interlock use within every winning order it issues granting a driver’s license restoration case. These directions detail what a person should and should not do to avoid any interlock problems in the first place, as well as the steps to follow if (in the real world, this is more like “when”) some difficulty arises. Unfortunately, problems do occur rather often, and many people make things worse by calling and relying on their interlock company for guidance.

WAR-32_Read_Directions_large-300x214Of course, it seems natural to reach out to the interlock company if there’s any kind of issue, or something goes wrong while using the device. While this is an understandable reaction, it’s also exactly what one shouldn’t do, and the point I want to make in this article is that no matter what the situation, the Secretary of State’s instructions reign supreme, and that not following them, no matter who says differently or otherwise, only complicates things.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I regularly handle interlock violations, including the kinds of problems most other lawyers will never see in an entire career. We’re certainly as close to having “seen it all” as possible, and that means we frequently see the same mistakes being made over and over again. Although we consider it part and parcel of our services to help our clients after we’ve won their license appeals, this kind of assistance isn’t offered by every other lawyer, and as I noted above, no matter who the lawyer may be it’s a nearly instinctive reaction to call the interlock company first, as soon as something goes amiss.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at how, at a certain point, some people get a nagging little feeling and have thoughts that something might be wrong with their drinking. Often, this happens after something like a DUI, or, worse yet, after multiple DUI’s have caused someone to have his or her driver’s license revoked and they grow tired of having to bum rides or risk driving without a valid license. Some people dismiss these though outright, rationalizing away any connection between their drinking and the problems they have experienced as a result.

download-6The best thing that can happen to a person experiencing problems with alcohol is getting to the point where he or she does see a connection between their drinking and many (or all) of the problems in their life, and then decide to do something about it. As I pointed out in the first part of this article, most people start off by trying to cut down or otherwise manage their drinking. Although this strategy never works, it is the failure of those attempts that provides exactly the lesson some people need to help them move to the next step – the decision to give up alcohol altogether.

In the real world, the decision to quit drinking never comes too soon. It usually follows a lot of time wasted unsuccessfully trying to control one’s drinking. Of course, just as some people are stuck in denial and just don’t believe that their drinking has grown troublesome, others get stuck in endless attempts to manage and limit it. It really is the luckiest of all who are able to reach the conclusion that the only way to “control” one’s drinking is to simply quit.

We are socialized to think of having drinks as something celebratory, and social. To younger people, the idea of “partying” and having a good time is often synonymous with drinking. For most people (but certainly not everyone, because some people have problems right out of the gate), their youthful drinking experiences are usually associated with things that are and/or were fun. For some, however, as youth fades, the drinking continues, but the good times don’t necessarily follow, sometimes ending up in things like DUI’s, and even loss of one’s driver’s license.

Bulbbbbb-300x253The idea that there might be something “off” with a person’s relationship to alcohol usually starts with an initial thought that his or her drinking needs to be reigned in a bit. By the time somebody starts thinking that way, or otherwise considering the possibility that his or her drinking has grown troublesome, it almost certainly has. This kind of thinking follows a process, because nobody goes from believing everything is fine one day to suddenly concluding that they have a major drinking problem the next.

In the real world, this usually starts off when a person begins to get a kind of nagging feeling that maybe he or she ought to slow down a bit, and/or not drink as much, or as often. This almost always comes about as a result of some kind of problem or problems. Whatever else, nobody thinks about trying to control their drinking because it’s working out so well. Instead, these thoughts come to mind after a person has been experiencing trouble of some sort.

This article will focus on and be relevant to anyone who has tried a “do-it-yourself” driver’s license restoration appeal and lost. In some of my driver’s license restoration articles, I point out the potential pitfalls of trying a license appeal on your own, or even with some lawyer who doesn’t really concentrate his or her practice in this area. I also make clear that anyone who is inclined to try a “do-it-yourself” driver’s license restoration appeal should give it a shot, but should at least also understand that chances are, it won’t work out.

1_pPxh12fYgugriRXtGMXHoQ-300x264Here, I’ll make 3 important points: First, it’s far easier for me to deal with people who have already tried and lost than it is to waste time attempting to talk someone out of it in the first place. Second, if someone does win on their own, then good for them, and they can never say I tried to discourage them out of my own financial self-interest. Third, when my team and I take a case, we guarantee to win it, so whether you come to us first, or after you’ve tried on your own, we’ll make sure that win your license back and can drive again.

I’d estimate that about half of our clients are people who have previously tried and lost a license appeal. Some of them contact us right after they find out they’ve lost, and inquire about going to court to appeal. The reality is that, because of our guarantee, my team and I don’t accept cases we don’t win, and therefore, we rarely wind up losing. As a result, we almost never have to contemplate a circuit court appeal for our own work. Accordingly, we have absolutely no interest in taking any such appeal for a case we didn’t handle from the start.

Every Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal is decided by a hearing officer. Technically called an “administrative law examiner” (for all practical purposes, the same thing as an “administrative law Judge”), a hearing officer is a licensed attorney employed by the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight. Because they decide all license appeal (including implied consent and ignition interlock violations) matters, SOS hearing officers serve an incredibly important function.

fairness-278x300For as much power as they have to approve or deny license appeals, hearing officers are constrained to exercise it within very strict rules. This is important, because even many lawyers don’t know the ins and outs of these rules, and fewer still work with them enough to really understand how they are interpreted and applied by each hearing officer. People who lose a “do-it-yourself” license appeal (or who lose with some lawyer who does not concentrate in this field) often become frustrated at their lack of success, and wrongly blame the hearing officer, without understanding how the application of the rules controlled the outcome of their case.

Although the governing rules are written in black and white, the way each hearing officer interprets certain parts of them can vary, essentially meaning that there is a lot of gray area. This is where the uniqueness of the various hearing officers matters, and why it is very important for us, as driver’s license restoration attorneys, to know each one, and how he or she does things. Something that one hearing officer couldn’t care less about may be a complete deal killer with another. If the lawyer doesn’t know how this applies to every part of a case, then he or she is not properly prepared to move forward with it.

In the course of having written more than 500 articles about driver’s license restoration, I have consistently made clear that a person must be genuinely sober to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. Because this is so fundamental to the whole license appeal process, it is worth repeating that there are 2 facets to being “sober,” in the way that qualifies someone to win a license appeal: First, that you have given up drinking and remained completely abstinent for a “sufficient” period of time (in my office, we generally want our clients to have a minimum of 18 months’ alcohol-free), and second, that you have the commitment to remain sober for life.

nodrinking-3Being able to win a license appeal and drinking alcohol are mutually exclusive things. The Michigan Secretary of State has drawn a line in the sand: after 2 or more DUI’s, the only people who will ever be allowed back on the road are those who can prove they have quit drinking for good. The state sees anyone who has had his or her license revoked after multiple DUI’s as too much of a risk when it comes to alcohol. It may not be able to stop such a person from drinking anymore, but it’s not going to let them drive as long as they do. You can’t get past the fact that people who don’t drink are exactly zero risk to drink and drive.

Even though I try and explain the requirement that a person must be sober to win a license appeal quite regularly, and probably because of the sheer volume of information I put out (not everyone is a big reader, after all), as well as the fact that my team and I guarantee to win every first time driver’s license restoration or clearance case we take, people find me online and think “he’s the guy.” While that’s flattering (and for anyone who’s has honestly quit drinking, I certainly AM the guy), the sobriety requirement is set in stone, and is the key issue in every Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal.