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

Winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case requires proving 2 main things by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence.” First, you must show that your alcohol (and/or substance abuse) problem is “under control,” meaning you have been alcohol and/or drug-free for a sufficient period of time, and second, that it (after 2 alcohol and/or drug-related driving convictions, you are presumed to have some kind of substance abuse problem) is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that you are a safe bet to never drink or use drugs again.

66b1d-scales-3-300x278In this article, I want to do a brief overview of what “clear and convincing” means in the real world, because it’s not only the very key to success, but is also dreadfully overlooked by just about everyone except the hearing officers who decide this cases, and anyone who finds him or herself reading an order denying their appeal. “Clear and convincing evidence” is the legal standard of proof required to win a license appeal, and it is specifically required by the rules that govern all such cases. You either meet this standard, or you lose.

As a starting point, we can begin by saying that “clear and convincing” is close to – but not quite as strong as – proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the legal burden of proof for finding someone guilty of a crime. A colleague of mine once used a baseball analogy and said that if “beyond a reasonable doubt” is like a home run, then “clear and convincing” equals a triple. If you understand baseball, then that’s a good comparison. If not, then the following analyses will help.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we handle hundreds of license appeal cases every year. Many of those are for people who now live out of state, but have a Michigan hold on their driving record that prevents them from obtaining (or, in some cases, renewing) a license in their new state. This release is called a “clearance,” and getting it requires submitting the same documentation and proof as a regular driver’s restoration appeal.

2112-300x285The most important part of a license appeal, whether you’re seeking a clearance or the restoration of your Michigan driving privileges, is proving that you have quit drinking for good. Beyond proving your sobriety one key difference is that a restoration appeal requires a person to show up for an actual appeal hearing, while a clearance can be requested by just filing the documents alone and waiving the hearing. This is called an “administrative review,” and is essentially an appeal by mail. It may sound like a good idea, but in practice, it’s not.

In terms of the “chances,” with an administrative appeal, it’s worth noting that from year to year, 3 out of every 4 of them are denied. In this article, I want to explain why I never do this shortcut method, and why I firmly believe that a person should come back for a live, in-person hearing. Before we get into the nitty-gritty of that, let me answer anyone who is (understandably) thinking, “Of course you want people to come back so they can hire you; this is how you make your money.”

In order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, a person has to be genuinely clean and sober. I have to raise this subject rather frequently, because my office gets contacted all the time by people who don’t really understand what sobriety means, and want to plow ahead with a license appeal even though they still drink or use marijuana. They miss that the first requirement, and key to winning, is proving that you have quit drinking and/or getting high for good. In this article, I want to take a quick look at how that applies to drinking, and using marijuana.

1-marijuana-alcohol-ma-cabr-min-2-300x195The rule governing license appeals necessitates that a person show that he or she has been alcohol and/or drug free for a sufficient period of time (at least 1 year, although longer is always better) and that he or she has the commitment and the ability to remain clean and sober for life. That leaves no room for any drinking, nor the recreational use of marijuana – ever. We’ll skip any discussion of medical marijuana in this piece, because whether or not its use will prevent someone from winning back their license can only be determined on an individual, case-by-case basis.

As much as I try to explain this every way possible within these blog articles, and although I always try to be diplomatic about it, the simple, cold truth is that only a minority of people truly “get it” when it comes to sobriety. That’s a problem, because only those who do get it have any chance of getting back on the road. Indeed, the main job of the Michigan Secretary of State hearing officers who decide license appeals it to screen out those few people who do get it from all the rest who don’t.

One of the best parts of my job as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer is actually winning licenses back for people. As much as I have written about how my team and I guarantee to win every case we take, and why we can do that, I want this article to shift the focus to how awesome it is to actually be the person, and be with the person, who wins.

preview-300x169Over the course of my years, I have been rewarded with a heartfelt “thank you” countless times. For everything we do, nothing beats the satisfaction of actually helping someone who genuinely deserves to be able to drive again win back a valid license. I feel good about my driver’s license restoration work. I help honest, sober people get back on the road, not risky drinkers.

The simple truth is that the work that most lawyers do is miserable. Almost nobody comes into a lawyer’s office on a roll. This is certainly true for anyone facing a DUI or criminal charge. Although I have never handled a divorce case, I’d be hard-pressed to imagine a situation much more unpleasant than that.

In part 1 of this article, I began reviewing how my in-depth understanding of recovery, and the various way people do, in fact, recover from alcohol (and drug) problems gives me a decided advantage as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, to the point that my office guarantees to win every first time license restoration and clearance case we take. Our overview began with a discussion on the importance of examining a person’s relationship with alcohol in the context of DUI cases, and particularly 2nd offense cases. Here, in part 2, we’re going to shift that focus to recovery, and how that is central to success in a driver’s license appeal case.

2-300x184When someone contacts me about a license restoration or clearance appeal, the first thing I want to know is the last time he or she had a drink. There is no way to overstate this: proving you have quit drinking for a sufficient period of time and have the commitment and tools to remain alcohol-free is the absolute key to winning a driver’s license appeal. Nothing else matters without sobriety.

This is where a lot of people, including lawyers, get lost – right at the part about having the “commitment and tools” to stay sober. Pretty much everyone in the world is familiar with AA, but unfortunately, that’s also just about all most people know about recovery. For a long time, AA was the only game in town. Before AA, the only way to address alcohol problems was what we now call the “moral model,” where the hope was a person could be shamed into not drinking anymore, or somehow “prayed” into recovery. Not surprisingly, that didn’t work.

Up until recently, if you would have asked what I think sets me apart as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, my answer would have almost certainly centered on the fact that my office guarantees to win every license restoration and clearance case we take. However, a recent discussion with Ann, my senior assistant, provided an insight that I think is helpful to someone as he or she looks for a lawyer. As she pointed out, what makes us so different from every other lawyer is that we really know and care about recovery and sobriety. We’ll examine this over 2 installments.

heart-recovery-300x218In a very real way, I seemed to have overlooked the recovery aspect, probably because it’s so central to who I am and the work I do. To be sure, my articles about sobriety leave no doubt that my understanding of the development, diagnosis, treatment of, and recovery from alcohol and drug problems runs very deep, and goes miles beyond the legal aspects involved in winning a license appeal. Having completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies, I bring a healthy measure of clinical knowledge unmatched by any other lawyer I know.

However, it goes even farther than that, because my reasons for spending the money and time on all this was to be able to actually help my clients; first, as people, and second, within the context of their license restoration, DUI or criminal cases. That’s the part I have been overlooking. I’m going to put false modesty aside for a moment and candidly point out that if you’re looking for a lawyer, you simply will not find any other attorney or law firm that comes close to knowing about or believing in recovery like me and my team.

I am the original Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer. Over the last several years, more and more “McLicense” lawyers have popped up, trying to market themselves in this field by doing things like using some version of the words “driver’s license restoration” or  “driver’s license restoration lawyer” in their website names to hawk their services on google ads. And while these tactics might have some value, the fact is that I was winning license appeals nearly 30 years ago, and was writing blog articles about how I do that more than 10 years ago, before many of these attorneys were even admitted to the bar, or had ever handled their first Secretary of State case.

DOogI’ve had a guarantee to win every case I take longer than most of these websites has been around. Beyond me, there is a very small circle of bona-fide license appeal lawyers scattered across the state, all of whom have been practicing for 20 years or more. Any one of us in this little group has forgotten more than all these Johnny-come-lately, copy-cat operations will ever know about license restorations. Although these newbies try and make it look like license reinstatement issues are the focus of their practice, as I noted, there are rather few of us who truly concentrate in this field. Unlike most of my other “informational” articles, this one will be a piece of shameless self-promotion, so hold on…

I am uniquely qualified to help you win your driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal because beyond just being a lawyer, I also have a formal, university post-graduate background in addiction studies. This clinical training enables me to really understand the various processes of recovery, and that, in turn, enables me to present my cases so that I can guarantee to win every one I take. For example, the majority of my clients are NOT in AA, and many have never even been to a single meeting, but that couldn’t matter less, because they all do win. It kills me that some lawyers actually misinform people they need to go to AA in order to win their license back…

Certain conditions must be met in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. The 2 most important of these are, first, that a person proves he or she has not had a drink for a “sufficient” period of time, and second, that he or she is a safe bet to never drink again. In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I sometimes encounter a few people who seem determined to have conflict with everyone and everything they meet. The State of Michigan has a very specific system in place to decide license appeal cases, and it doesn’t bend for anyone. In this article, I want to make clear that, unlike ordering a hamburger, when it comes to winning your license back, you can’t just have it your way.

BKK3-300x164In order to win, a license appeal case must comply with the rules established by the Secretary of State. If it was up to me, there are lots of things I would change about the license appeal system, but it’s not. Instead, it is what it is, and not what you, me or anyone else wants it to be. In order to win, I have to work squarely within the state’s guidelines. Most people get this, but it can be a problem for those who aren’t particularly good at following rules.

The state, for its part, doesn’t “care” if someone ever drives again. It is important to understand that among those people whose driver’s licenses are revoked for multiple DUI’s, only a minority of them really do quit drinking for good, and that is the absolute key to winning a license appeal. The license restoration process, therefore, is really about screening these people out from the larger group. At the end of the day, a person either meets the standards set by the state or not.

One reality that we confront just about daily, as a Michigan driver’s license restoration practice, is that plenty of the people who become our clients have previously tried to win their license back, without a lawyer, and then lost. I deal with the fallout from unsuccessful DIY cases almost every day. Whatever else, these people didn’t lose because things were done right. In this article, I want to explain a few things about some of the potential pitfalls that a person, and even a lawyer without considerable experience in this field, may encounter in trying a license appeal.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2019/03/DIY-Disaster-2.0-300x226.jpgAlthough I don’t think it’s a good idea to wing it in this kind of endeavor on your own, I want to be perfectly clear, up front, that, for the most part, anyone interested in trying a “do-it-yourself” license restoration or clearance case should give it a shot. In other words, I’m not using this article as any kind of scare tactic to frighten someone out of attempting it. On the contrary, I believe that if you want to give this a try, then by all means, go for it. Then, call me later.

The simple truth is that it’s far easier for me to speak with someone who has previously tried on his or her own and lost, than it is for me to waste my time trying to convince him or her not to do so in the first place. The reason is simple; after someone tries and loses, they’ll have a much better appreciation for the depth of what they don’t understand about the process. This becomes clear as people read the order denying their case and get a real sense of things, like how important the evidence is, and that there is far more to winning these cases than they had ever thought.

In part 1 of this article, I began explaining why someone who has a Michigan hold on his or her driving record, but doesn’t live here, should come back to get it cleared. The Secretary of State requires an accurate and thorough substance use evaluation, and the best way to get one is by seeing an evaluator with extensive experience doing them for Michigan license appeals, something that simply cannot be found in a therapist who practices in another state. Here, in part 2, I will continue my examination of how this “quality control” applies to the letters of support, the preparation for a live hearing, and then the hearing itself. It is attention to these details that enables me, as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, to guarantee to win every case I take.

retina-display-textures-7-728-300x155The control I exercise over a case is a direct result of starting out by meeting with the client in person, and getting to know him or her, and the details of his or her recovery story. Everyone who is sober has a recovery story. Whatever else, nobody decides to quit drinking because it’s working out so well. Usually, people stop drinking long after they otherwise should have, a fact that usually becomes clear in hindsight. An important part of my job is to help bring that recovery story to life, so that it gets translated and conveyed properly within the evidence we submit.

Beyond the evaluation, another key part of that evidence are the letters of support. The Secretary of state requires a minimum of 3 such testimonial letters (we require 4 in my office), and that’s part of what we go over at that initial, 3-hour meeting. We take the time to explain to the client how the letters should be done, and what kinds of things should and should not be included within them. In the real world, there is probably no single thing responsible for as many denials in license appeal cases as inadequate letters of support. That is a completely avoidable mistake.