Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration – Out of State Issues

In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I written every article this blog, which is by far the best and most comprehensive resource for information about every facet of the license appeal and clearance process on the internet. One thing that I have to bring up regularly, just to keep in squarely within view, is that you must have quit drinking in order to win your license back. While I guarantee to win every case I take, I do not take every case that comes my way, and will only accept cases for people who genuinely do not drink anymore. I get endless emails from people who tell me how much they need a license and how long they’ve gone without one, but when I ask how long they’ve been sober, things suddenly go quiet. In this familiar-themed article, I want to make clear, once again, that you must have completely severed your relationship with alcohol as a pre-condition to winning a driver’s license clearance or restoration case filed with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS).

89b6b6b380687d516ec55270162905f7-213x300Look, I’m in business to make money, not turn away people who are willing to hire me. However, I do have a conscience AND a guarantee, so I simply cannot and will not take on a case that cannot win. Sobriety is a non-negotiable requirement to win your license back. I was speaking with another lawyer recently about this, and he kind of laughed in agreement and said that once, when he asked a guy if he was sober, the reply was something like, “Yep. I only drink beer now.” Among other things, over 27 years as a lawyer has taught me that many people simply don’t understand that an important part of what sobriety means is that you have completely stopped drinking. For its part, the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) has drawn a line in the sand regarding license restoration and clearance appeals; only people who have quit drinking for good can win. Period. The state knows that, whatever people will say about how they are “different” now when it comes to drinking, and despite all the commitments and promises they make to never drink and drive again, those who no longer drink alcohol are exactly zero risk for a repeat performance. That’s the safest bet, and the only one the state will make. It’s that simple.

At least to me. And the Secretary of State. Part of the problem here is that everybody needs a license, so when some of them go online and find something like this blog or my website, see that I guarantee to win every case I take, they think, “Eureka!” It’s human nature, I suppose, for someone to focus more on how tough things have been without a license and how long they haven’t had one, than anything else. It’s perfectly understandable that a person will believe, in his or her heart of hearts, that no matter what, they’ll never drive drunk again. Under the main rule (Rule 13) governing license appeals, however, a person has to prove that he or she has been completely abstinent from alcohol for a sufficient period of time (in the rule, this is stated as the person’s alcohol problem being “under control“). The Secretary of State’s AHS hearing officers are given rather wide discretion in determining how much abstinence is enough (i.s., “sufficient”). More important, the second part of the rule requires that a person prove that his or her alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” which means that he or she has the commitment and the tools to remain alcohol-free for good, and otherwise seems like a safe enough bet to not drink again. This is really the “meat and potatoes” of the license appeal process – proving that a person will never drink again.

In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I get tons of calls and emails from people who need to win back their license. However, and as one hearing officer with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) so adroitly puts it, “everybody needs a license.” Needing a license, however, has nothing to do with actually winning a license appeal, anymore than needing money has anything to do with actually winning the lottery. In this article, I want to take a look at 5 common things that people believe are important, but that don’t really matter a bit in the context of winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. As we’ll see, not only do none of these things have anything do with winning your license back, there is one overlooked and recurrent theme within the process that essentially everything else and is the absolute key to getting back on the road.

635907898137118831-1557727704_5ThingsFirst, as we’ve just noted, the idea that you “need” your license couldn’t matter less to your ability to actually win it back. The whole point of the license restoration process is to make sure than only people who are and will remain sober get back on the road. When a person racks up multiple DUI’s, he or she is categorized, under Michigan law, as a habitual alcohol offender, and his or her driver’s license is revoked. The Secretary of State will not even consider giving a license back to someone who still drinks, or even thinks they can ever drink again. This point is missed by loads of people who will assure any and everyone that they are no longer any kind of risk to drink and drive again for all kinds of reasons: they won’t drink when they drive, they don’t drink like they used to, they only drink at home, they only drink once and a while, and so on. From the state’s point of view, however, these people are nothing less than proven risks. By contrast, who is the least risky to ever drive drunk again? People who don’t drink. Thus, the line in the sand is drawn there; the only people who have their licenses restored are those who have quit drinking for good and can prove it.

Second, a lot of people will observe, with a strong note of exasperation, that they haven’t driven in X number of years. I’m not trying to be the bad guy here, but that begs the question, “so what?” If proving sobriety is the key to winning your license back, what does not having had a license for any period of time have to do with that? Plenty of people don’t drive anymore, but still drink. It’s the same for people who complain that they haven’t had a license for a long time. So what? The key to getting that license back is proving sobriety, and that has nothing to do with how long you haven’t had a license other than your minimum period of revocation must have passed before you become eligible to file an appeal.

In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I am often hired after someone has previously tried to do a license appeal without a lawyer (or with some lawyer who claims to “do” these cases as part of a larger practice) and then lost. In this article, I want to revisit and reiterate why it’s better to let a professional handle these things, not because I’m greedy, or want to use scare tactics to discourage someone from trying; in fact, on both this blog and on my website, I have always said “go for it.” I really do have plenty enough business to stay busy with people who who just want to do it right the first time as well as others who have already tried and lost. My goal here is to try and help the person understand that it is worth hiring a driver’s license restoration lawyer, like me, for a license reinstatement case primarily in order to NOT lose, and NOT have to wait an entire additional year before he or she can file again.

bigstock-Professional-And-Amateur-Direc-78086273copy-300x289I remember, as I was growing up, that my dad was never much of a do-it-yourself kind of guy.  Working as a mailman, it’s not like we had lots of extra money to throw around, but my dad knew enough to let the experts handle the things that made them experts in the first place. Later on, as an adult, when someone would tell me that they had just fixed or installed something themselves that I had hired out, I would often pause and wonder if I should have saved the money and tried it myself. One thing I couldn’t overlook, though, were results.  Sorry folks, but most do-it-yourself work looks or ends up like do-it-yourself work. As I grew older, I began to pick up on little things, like when some technician working at my house would explain something to me along the lines of, “even though the directions say you should connect a 225 to the widget here, I always use a 226 because the 225’s clog up after a few years, and the 226’s never do.” In other words, there are all kinds of little tricks and secrets that people who do something day-in and day-out know that the one-time, do-it-yourselfer will never learn.  This really applies in the world of license restoration and clearance appeals.

This doesn’t matter so much if you can’t hook up the surround-sound system in your home, because you can call the expert in later to get it right without your having done much, if any damage. But if you remodel your own kitchen, you’re going to have to live with those results. If you do your own license appeal and lose, your not only going to be bumming rides for another year, but now you need to make sure the lawyer you hire next time can fix or get around the things you screwed up that caused your case to lose in the first place. For the most part, the things that people do screw up aren’t usually difficult for me to fix, but we should be very clear that you lose a do-it-yourself appeal precisely because you did screw something up. There’s really no nice way to put this without missing that key point. The big problem with anyone trying to do anything on his or her own is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Worse yet, very few lawyers really grasp the intricacies of the license restoration process, so no matter how you cut it, there is a strong element of luck involved in trying to do it yourself. Yet for all of that, if you’re inclined to give it a try, then go for it, as long as the cost of losing (not driving for at least another year) is something you can handle.

In my capacity as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I can and do win license appeal cases for people living anywhere in the world. In other words, I handle license restoration cases no matter where in the state a person may reside, and I handle clearance appeals for anyone who no longer resides in Michigan. This can sometimes create a bit of confusion, and is very different from handling DUI and other criminal cases, where I believe it is very important to find a lawyer who is relatively “local” to the court where the charge is pending. In this article, I want to explain the difference and make clear that I file and win license appeals for anyone, no matter when in (or out) of Michigan they may live. The only limitation for me to take someone’s driver’s license restoration case is that they must travel to my location and see me for our first 3-hour face-to-face meeting. And to make matters really convenient, we schedule things so that the client leaves my office and goes directly to my evaluator to have his or her substance use evaluation completed, making it a “one and done” trip.

PTAC-Map-for-web-300x283The reason I meet with the client first is to prepare him or her to undergo the evaluation. There is a lot to go over. Certain information must be included in the evaluation, while many other things that seem relevant are best omitted, not because we’re hiding anything from the Secretary of State, but rather because there is limited space on the state’s form. Because they don’t know better, some evaluators will write something like “see attached” when they run out of room. There is no need for that – ever. One of my clients had 13 prior DUI convictions (I won his case the first time, no less), and you can be sure that there was plenty of information in his case, but my evaluator managed to get everything on the state’s form without the need for any kind of addendum. When I meet with the client, I complete a detailed form of my own, called a “substance abuse evaluation checklist,” that lists all the information I know to be important, and which I send with him or her, along with various other documents, to give to the evaluator.

While it doesn’t matter where a person lives in order for me to take his or her case, it is absolutely essential that he or she has genuinely quit drinking. As much detail as I provide on my checklist, the underlying key to it all is the story of why and how a person decided to quit drinking. Nobody quits drinking because it’s working out so well. There is a real human story – your story – behind all the dates and facts. We need to “flesh” that out. Most people have never thought of the journey from drinker to non-drinker as a story. Most of my clients are not in AA, so they don’t have the regular experience of talking around the tables. Even those who do go to meetings often need a little help summarizing everything in a way that it can be translated by the evaluator directly onto the state’s form. That’s where I come in. It’s that story, and not where you live, that matters most.

I am proud of my guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration or clearance case I take. Even the quickest scan of the more than 400 driver’s license restoration articles I’ve written for this blog reveals that, beyond the occasional installment touting my guarantee, they are all about analysis and useful information. Within my archives, I take the time to explore every facet and step of the license appeal process in painstaking detail. I can safely say that I have put together more substantive material about Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance issues that you can find everywhere else combined, and probably ten times over, at that. Yet as great as all that may be, the truth is that none of it matters if you don’t win your license back. And I truly believe that as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, my job is to not only do just that, but also guarantee that anyone who hires me will only pay me once to get back on the road. Why should anyone hand over their hard-earned money to some lawyer merely for a “shot,” or to take a chance at winning? You wouldn’t go to the appliance store and pay for a refrigerator that “might” work, would you? If you have a basement leak, you don’t look for a contractor to “try” and fix it; you hire someone to get the job done right and guarantee the work.

guaranteed-ayurvedic-treatment-image-300x275The importance of a guarantee to the client is really priceless, but I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I’ve done rather well by it, too, although not without some headaches. The biggest problem it creates is the mistaken notion in some peoples’ minds that all they have to do is pay my fee and I’ll guarantee to win their case. I ONLY, and let me emphasize again – ONLY – take cases for people who are sober. In other words, I won’t take a case for someone who is still drinking, or who even thinks they can still drink. “Sober,” in that sense, means you’ve quit drinking for good. I’ve written numerous of articles about sobriety, and I encourage the reader to look through some (or all) of them. The kind of people who wind up becoming my clients are generally information seekers; often “readers,” and, to the extent that they are my clients, always sober. The problem for me is that while not everyone is into such details, everyone, without exception, who has lost his her license wants it back, and loads of people see my website and/or this blog and, without reading enough, simply think, “he’s the guy.” Then, they see my guarantee, and they’re all but running to my door, thinking the faster they can pay me, the faster I can get their license back for them.

It doesn’t work that way. The whole point of the license restoration process is to NOT give a license back to anyone who drinks at all, and even THINKS that he or she can ever drink again. The Michigan Secretary of State knows that the people who are the least likely to ever drink and drive (again) are those who simply do not drink. Through it’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), the state had drawn a very bright line: for those who have lost their license due to multiple DUI convictions, the only way to get it back is to prove that you have quit drinking for good. Sobriety, then, is a first (and non-negotiable) requirement for a successful license appeal. For my part, I’m certainly not going to take any case – and be stuck guaranteeing the results – for someone who has not genuinely embraced sobriety.

As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer who handles a ton of out-of-state clearance cases, I want to use this article to look at how you can appeal after you’ve lost a “do-it-yourself” administrative review filed with the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS). As a rough estimate, I’d say that about half of my clients who no loner live in Michigan have tried this approach at least once before they hire me. Given that 3 out of 4 such appeals lose, it poses very little financial risk to me to tell anyone thinking about it to give it a shot; I’ll be here when you need me. In this article, I want to focus in on some of the more important issues that arise after a person loses one of these appeal by mail, and offer a few reasons why a person may seriously consider skipping it altogether and just doing it right the first time.

aid8066991-v4-728px-Appeal-a-Denial-for-an-Application-of-Benefits-Step-12-300x288To clarify a point frequently misunderstood, if you lose a license appeal after a hearing, you must wait another year to try again. If you lose an administrative review, you can immediatley request to come back to Michigan for a hearing, and you get do the process all over again with new evidence, including a new substance use evaluation (SUE) and new letters of support. This is ALMOST like 2 bites at the apple. To be completely honest about it, though, an administrative reviews loses because the evidence falls short of being good enough to win. In fact, someone out of state could spend a fortune hiring Michigan’s best criminal trial attorney to help him or her prepare one of these cases and still not have better than a 1-in-4 chance of winning. The experience necessary to be good at license appeals comes from doing license appeal. And even though I’m in business to make money, it’s not that I’m afraid I’ll lose a potential client if someone does this on their own and wins. If you luck out, then I say good for you. The problem for me is that when you do lose, it’s not because you got everything right. Sometimes, whatever you got wrong in a losing appeal can have a lasting and really negative effect on any future appeal. On top of that, it raises questions about your credibility if you go running in with all new and corrected (and different) information right after you’ve lost.

To be sure, I can fix most of the problems that caused the loss in the first place, but sometimes, there is an overarching sense of “timing” that just doesn’t square with immediately filing an appeal for a hearing with new evidence right after. This is hard to articulate, and really needs to be examined on a case by case basis. As I noted before, I’m in business to make money, and I don’t do that by NOT taking cases, or waiting to take them, but I also guarantee to win every case I take, so I have absolutely no reason to accept someone’s money for a case that won’t win right away, only to go in and lose and then have to do it all over again next year as “warranty work.”

In part 1 of this article, I began my examination of why you should come back to Michigan to win the clearance of a Michigan “hold” on your driving record. If you now live out of state, the only other option is to file what’s called an “administrative review,” which is an appeal by mail with no hearing. I pointed out that at least 3 out of 4 of these appeals are denied, and wondered openly how many times those who eventually do win have tried before. I began by explaining that in addition to an actual hearing, the key reason for coming back (and hiring me) is that when I’m the lawyer, I control every aspect of the case, and nothing is left to chance. I made clear that it all starts with, and requires honest and genuine sobriety, meaning that you have quit drinking and are committed to an alcohol-free life. We then moved on to the substance use evaluation, which I characterized as “foundational” in a license appeal. Here, in part 2, we’ll pick up by looking at the other main pillar of evidence submitted in each case, the letters of support. From there, we’ll go on to examine how and why having a hearing is far superior to not.

Bear-2When filing any kind of license appeal, you must also submit at least 3 letters of support (although we require 4 in my office) in addition to the substance use evaluation,. These support letters are also foundational to a license appeal (think of the evaluation and the letters as the “support beams”), and I review and edit every single one before it’s submitted. Each year, out of thousand or more letters I look over, only a handful aren’t substantially fixed up by me, and those are almost always letters that aren’t for primary support, like when a fellow AA member attests that a person attends meeting, or an employer who doesn’t fully know about a person’s past confirms that he or she is a valuable part of the work team. As I said, these letters don’t really count as “support,” but they are helpful as add-ons to the letter package.

At it’s simplest, a real support letter describes a person’s sobriety. Whatever else, the very last thing these should get into is any kind of “good guy” descriptions that fails to provide solid evidence of your sobriety or are otherwise not observational and testimonial in nature. The letters need to describe your commitment to sobriety, provide examples of it, as well as, depending on the knowledge and perspective of the writer, how you came to it, and, if possible, detail how you are different now that you don’t drink than you were before, when you did. Some letters, by the very nature (think: time frame) of the relationship between the subject and the writer may NOT be able to address this, but they can still be helpful in otherwise confirming that a person sticks to his or her commitment to remain sober.

In my capacity as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I have written extensively about clearing a Michigan “hold” on your driving record. Instead of yet another installment explaining the actual license clearance process (I’ve put up ample information about that), we’ll use this 2-part article to shift the focus to why a person should come back to Michigan and see me to get this whole clearance thing done once and for all. Some readers may not have yet attempted a “do-it-yourself” appeal to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS), but many will have already tried mailing in what’s called an “administrative review,” only to have lost. What we’ll cover here applies whether you’ve tried before, or not. An administrative review is pretty much a sure loser. Statistically speaking, 3 out of 4 get denied, and there’s no telling how many times any of those who eventually do win have tried before. In fact, it is not uncommon for many of my out-of-state clients to have tried at least twice on their own before finally getting serious about winning and then hiring me.

199791-300x230An administrative review does have a strong appeal in terms of both convenience and cost. You’d have to be crazy to WANT to take the time to come back to Michigan and blow money on a lawyer and travel if you could simply skip all of that and win your license back from the kitchen table, but, as experience (and statistics show,) it doesn’t work like that. That said, it’s not like coming back to Michigan, by itself, is of any kind of magic solution. Instead, it’s the plan you come back to execute that holds the key to winning, and I have a proven and guaranteed plan for Michigan clearance cases. In any given week, it’s not unusual for me to handle 3 out-of-state license appeals. and over the years, I have developed and follow a very clear procedure to handle and win them. And I do win. In fact, if I take your case, I guarantee to win it. I won’t waste your time here with uncommitted language like “trying,” or “improving your chances” of success. With me, it’s about actually getting your clearance now. This means that if I’m your lawyer, you’ll get your clearance, guaranteed. It can’t really get any better or simpler than that.

If I had to boil everything down into one word for why you should come back to Michigan and hire me to win your clearance, it would be “control.” I guarantee to win every case I take because I know what to do, and I exercise control over every step of the process. It is, in the big picture, the my control over process having a client come back to win that differs so substantially from the process of someone merely sending in a “do-it-yourself” appeal by mail. The process, as I do it, requires an initial, 3-hour meeting to prepare you for your substance use evaluation, then sending you a few blocks from my office to have the evaluation completed. At that meeting, we’ll go over how you should do the letters of support (I include a sample letter in the folder of info provided to a new client), and instruct you to forward them all to me, in draft form, for correction and editing. Once I have your completed evaluation and draft letters, I can get to work. Beyond just fixing the letters, I need to CAREFULLY review your evaluation, and then make sure everything is consistent within the evaluation and letters. Only then will the documents be filed, and the case set for a live hearing. My control over the process extends to the hearing, as well. All my cases are set for a hearing in the Livonia Office of Hearings and Appeals. I am very familiar with the 5 hearing officers there, so I’ll know how to prepare you, based upon the facts of your case, for the questions that will be asked. Key here are the questions. There will always be questions, so it’s more about whether you’ll be here to answer them, or not.

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.

A substantial portion of my driver’s license restoration practice involved obtaining the clearance of a Michigan hold on someone’s driving record that prevents him or her from getting a license in another state.  The very same evidence is submitted to the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) for both a clearance and a driver’s license restoration appeal.  Although just about everyone (understandably) wonders about doing an administrative review, often called an “appeal by mail,” most learn that 3 out of every 4 such cases lose, and that a person will have to wait a whole year before he or she can file again.  Those with better luck read and understand this before they try, while the less fortunate have to find out the hard way.  The simple truth is that the best and surest way to win a clearance of the Michigan hold on your driving record is to do a full appeal and come back for a hearing.  For my part, I put my money where my mouth is, because when I take a license clearance and restoration appeal case, I guarantee to win it.

Mitt-276x300There are several reasons why I will only handle these cases for clients who come back to Michigan, despite endless offers to hire me for help with these ill-fated and ever-doomed administrative reviews.  The first is control.  When a client hires me, I control every part of the case, from the preparation to the evidence to the hearing itself.   My clients will go my evaluator to have his or her substance abuse evaluation (technically, it’s called a “substance use evaluation,” but everyone alive calls it a “substance abuse evaluation,” so we’ll just go along with that) completed.  The first meeting with a new client takes about 3 hours in my office, and takes place prior to the evaluation.  In fact, the main point of that meeting is to prepare the client for the evaluation.  If someone wants to have an evaluation completed by some unknown person in another state, I have absolutely no control over any part of that process.  Beyond my input, it takes a LOT of time and effort for a substance abuse counselor to learn to complete the evaluation in the way the hearing officers of the Michigan Secretary of State’s administrative hearing section expect.  Although just about any clinician can look at the form and figure he or she can complete it, there are literally countless little things that are not obvious and that are learned either by direct instruction or, as is usually the case, by getting it wrong the first time.

The reader needs to understand that a winning license appeal takes a lot of experienced effort.  There are no shortcuts to doing things right.  As a driver’s license restoration lawyer, this cannot be done by just sending someone out to “get” an evaluation and then looking things over (including the critically important letters of support) to make sure they’re good enough.  I have to spend the time with and learn about my clients recovery, meaning his or her transition from drinker to non-drinker, at our first meeting.  I also have to try and summarize that whole story within the paperwork I create.  As it goes, every client leaves my office with a packet of information to give to the evaluator, including a form of my own creation called a “Substance Abuse Evaluation Checklist,” a specially marked-up copy of his or her driving record, and any other documents that need to be reviewed by the evaluator before the evaluation is completed.  This is part of that control I have when the client comes to my office first, and then goes to see my evaluator.  It is NOT the evaluator’s job to read your driving record, figure out your conviction history and learn the most details of your recovery story that would be most relevant to the hearing officer.  Instead, it is MY job to make sure that this information is clearly presented to my evaluator, and I do exactly that because of the control I exercise and maintain over the case.