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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

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.

In part 1 of this article, we began our discussion of how to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case by looking at 2 of the biggest things that will cause it to lose: that a person still drinks alcohol, or that he or she even thinks they can ever drink again. As I pointed out, the key to winning a license appeal is proving that you have have been alcohol-free for a “sufficient” period of time, and that you are a safe bet to never drink again.

3-300x217In many of my other articles, I examine the fundamental change in a person’s thinking when he or she gets sober. The takeaway from them is that when a person finally does see his or her drinking as a problem, realizes the only way forward is to quit for good, and then does just that, everything about his or her life changes. These changes are profound, and really become the foundation upon which sobriety is built.

In other words, being “sober” is not about laying off the drinking for a while, or cutting back, or even just stopping without a firm belief that one can never pick up again. Rather, it’s about really believing that one’s own drinking has gotten out of hand, and accepting that it’s time to quit for life. Nobody quits drinking because it’s working out so well. By the time a person finally decides to give up alcohol, it had usually stopped being fun a long time ago.

This article about Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals will examine 2 things that will completely derail a case. Instead of focusing on what it takes to win a driver’s license restoration case, we’ll see at how these issues will cause it to lose. By flipping the usual “here’s what you need” analysis on its head, we’ll clarify what it really takes to succeed in a license appeal. In other words, we’ll get a better idea of what works, by looking at what doesn’t.

unnamed-4-300x224In order to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance case, a person must prove 2 things: first, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that he or she has been completely alcohol-free for a “sufficient” period of time (usually no less than 18 months, but longer is better). Second, he or she must prove that their alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that he or she has both the ability and commitment to never drink again.

That’s a big deal, but it boils down to this simple proposition: the Michigan Secretary of State has decided that anyone who has had their license revoked for multiple DUI’s will not be allowed to drive again unless they have given up drinking for good. People who don’t drink are zero risk to drive drunk (again), and the line in the sand has been drawn there. The hard truth is that if you drink, or even think you can ever drink again, you’re not going to get your license back.

As Michigan criminal and DUI lawyers, we spend a lot of time in court. Or at least we used to: that changed with the Coronavirus, and courts have been largely shut down since. As of this writing, Michigan courts are adapting their way to being able to handle regular criminal matters again. In the weeks following the state’s shutdown, only “emergency” matters, meaning things like arraignments, bond (bail) issues, and certain probation violation matters, were being heard. That’s about to change.

Picture1-300x212We really don’t know when things will fully get back to normal, or, for that matter, what that new “normal” will look like. We do know, however, that the way cases are handled is going to be different after this, both in the long and short-term. Even walking into court is going to give some people pause as soon as they approach a door handle and have to touch it, or, once inside, have to use a “public” pen to sign a document.

As lawyers who do a lot of our work in courtrooms, a regular part of our jobs involves turning and whispering instructions or otherwise explaining things to our clients, while standing before a Judge. How is that going to play out when cases are heard live again? Of course, the bigger question is, when will cases ever be heard live again? The immediate plan is to use as videoconferencing as possible, but may very well lead to some permanent changes, as well.

If you have an ignition interlock in your vehicle, the coronavirus situation has really ramped up the possibility of getting a positive-for-alcohol violation from using hand sanitizer. My office has recently seen an explosion of positive tests because people have used some kind of alcohol-based hand wash too soon before blowing into their interlock unit. This article will focus on a very real and growing problem that’s doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

wqe-300x246It’s very important to realize that this is a fluid and evolving situation, and things are changing by the day. The Secretary of States’ interlock instructions, written years ago, advise against using ANY kind of hand sanitizer before starting or while operating the vehicle. Now, with the coronavirus situation, people are finding that it’s very hard to go shopping, even with gloves, and then get into their cars without feeling contaminated, so just about everyone is doing some hand-sanitizing before going anywhere.

Unfortunately, some people on the interlock don’t go anywhere at all, because they have a startup failure (this happens when the test result is .25 of higher). A vehicle will start if the positive result is under .25, but it still registers. While I agree that it’s bull$hit if a person gets violated for or otherwise has to explain this later, given the current conditions, as the saying goes, “is what it is.”

In part 1 of this article, we began examining how a charge for driving on a revoked license (DWLR) is worse than one for driving on a suspended license (DWLS), even though they’re both covered by the same provision of law and carry identical criminal penalties in court. I noted that that there are 2 kinds of people who have lost their license: those who have it taken away for a DUI, and everyone else, and that it’s always best to be part of the everyone else group.

unnamed-3-300x214In this second part of the article, we’re going to turn our attention to why a DWLR charge is worse than a DWLS charge, both in the courtroom, and, even more important, in the context of being able to get one’s license back later. As we’ll see, a revoked license charge can be a complete deal-killer for a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, and will render a person completely ineligible to even file an appeal for either another 1 or 5 years.

In the world of criminal cases, having to face a suspended license charge is never a good thing, but having to contend with a revoked license charge (DWLR) is a whole different level of “worse.” When a driver’s license is revoked, it’s almost always because the person has racked up multiple DUI’s. As much as a single DUI can just “happen,” absolutely nobody in the court system thinks very charitably about a person with 2 or more drunk driving convictions.

This article will focus on the actual negative consequences of getting caught driving on a revoked license, and how that can hurt a person’s ability to win back his or her license later. The Michigan Secretary of State administrative penalties for driving on a revoked license (DWLR) are much more serious than for driving on a suspended license (DWLS), and they can kill any chance of a person filing, much less winning, a future driver’s license restoration appeal.

hqdefault-1-XX-y2-300x215Unfortunately, my team and I have seen plenty of cases where a police officer has written a citation for “DWLS,” even though the person’s license was revoked at the time of the offense. It’s important to make clear that it doesn’t matter what’s written on the citation. Instead, what ultimately happens to a person will be based entirely upon whether his or her license was either suspended, or revoked, at the time of the incident.

Instead of wasting time examining the endless possible situations that rarely occur, we’ll center our discussion here on the most common, real-world situation people face when they start searching this stuff online. Accordingly, while some of what we cover here applies to both DWLS and DWLR cases, our focus will be on those situations where a person gets caught driving after his or her license has been revoked as a result of multiple DUI’s.

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