Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

This will be a short and simple article about the absolute key to winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. For all the issues involved in getting your license back, the one thing that you must have, and be able to prove, in every case, is that you have quit drinking for good. Despite the lengths I go to make this clear on my site and in these blog articles, some people miss the point, and mistakenly think that just being committed to not drinking and driving again is enough to win a license appeal. It’s not.

the-key-300x212Rather than build up to the big explanation, let me clarify things now, and we’ll get into the details later: The entire point of a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal to the Michigan Secretary of State is for you to prove that you have quit drinking for a sufficient period of time, and have the ability to remain alcohol-free for good. In other words, you have to show that you had enough of drinking, decided to quit, and intend to “stay quit” for good.

Doing this first requires accepting that you’re drinking became a problem. Anyone who even hesitates on this point is not ready to start a license restoration or clearance case. Nobody quits drinking because it’s working out so well. For some people, a 2nd DUI is more than enough reason to quit, while others continue imbibing, despite the problems caused by their relationship to alcohol. There are also many unfortunate people who lose everything to their drinking.

If you have lost your Michigan driver’s license because of multiple DUI’s, it goes without saying that you wish you could have it back. It’s hard to get by without driving. As one of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Administrative Hearing Section (AHS) hearing officer often responds when people say they need their license, “everybody needs a license.” That, however, has nothing to do with the actually being able to win it back.

1508123173_665_44-motivational-fitness-quotes-with-inspirational-images-300x265This article was suggested by my Ann, my senior assistant, after a long day of talking to people and answering questions about the Michigan driver’s license restoration process. My office handles about 200 license appeals each year. Because I guarantee to win every case I take, that requires us to screen out those callers who aren’t yet ready, and that, in turn, means talking to a lot of people. For all the questions you may have about winning your license back, let me ask this one about you: are you a wisher, a wanter, or a doer?

You learn a lot when you deal with the public in any capacity. In the context of being a Michigan driver’s license restoration practice, we see how people fit into certain patterns. Some people are just plain angry that they’ve lost their license, but have little to no interest about dealing with the drinking that created their predicament. These people wish for things to be different, just like we all wish we could win the lottery. Others go one step further, moving their wish into a want by actually making some effort to regain the ability to drive.

My office is contacted daily by people who can’t get a license in another state because Michigan has a “hold.” As a result, a huge part of my driver’s license restoration practice involves winning clearances of Michigan holds on driving records for people who now live out of state. In this article, I want to skip over much of the actual license appeal process (I’ve covered that in plenty of my other articles) and simply explain why you should come back to Michigan in order to do this correctly.

Y2-300x194As a matter of policy, my office will ONLY handle clearance cases for someone who comes back to meet with us. This isn’t nearly as bad or inconvenient as it sounds (especially compared to the inconvenience of not driving). My clients only have to come back to Michigan twice. The first visit is to meet with us (for about 3 hours) and then our clients go from our office to the counselor’s office to have the substance abuse evaluation completed. This is essentially a “one and done” kind of deal, because we’ll work on the letters of support and anything else that needs to be done via email or the like.

The second trip back Michigan is for the license appeal hearing itself. Hearings last about a half hour, and they are scheduled every hour on the hour, so a person can rely on being in and out of that proceeding in less than 60 minutes, no matter what. Thus, a person who comes in from another state for something like a 1:00 p.m. hearing can plan on being able to head back home before 2:00 p.m. that same day, unless he or she wants to stick around for a while afterward. What I’m driving at is that doing it this way – the right way – isn’t nearly as difficult or involved as it may at first seem.

A regular and frustrating part of my experience as a Michigan driver’s license restoration attorney is when a client who is on a restricted license gets an ignition interlock violation after either having started the process of getting a full license, or who would otherwise be eligible to do so. In other words, it’s enough of a pain in the a$$ if someone is 4, 6 or 8 months into his or her restricted license and then gets violated. It’s worse, though, when the person has been on a restricted for over a year already and could have, but has not yet, restored his or her full privileges, and then gets a violation.

don-t-wait-message-hand-drawn-text-white-red-black-wall-poster-words-clock-face-arrow-elements-to-62745206Remember, after a successful driver’s license restoration appeal, a person has to drive for at least 1 year on a restricted license with an ignition interlock unit. Once he or she has accumulated 12 months, however, they can move forward for “full” restoration. One frequent misconception is the idea that it “looks better” if the person spends a little more time on the restricted license. That’s dead wrong.

The very day your year is up, you should move forward to restore full driving privileges. The only thing that happens if you wait is that you invite trouble. I know this, because I get called in to fix these situations all the time.

In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I encounter a lot of misunderstandings about the license appeal process. Ann, my senior assistant, suggested this article after speaking with a caller, who, like many, had incorrectly heard that you have to lose your first appeal before you can win your license back. Many people will then wonder, “why bother?” Not only is this notion TOTALLY WRONG, but it also flies in the face of the reality that the law itself provides for a second chance. I know what I’m talking about, because I guarantee to win every license case I take. I earn my income by succeeding the first time around, not having to do everything all over again, for free.

secondchancesquotesLicense appeals are hard, and they’re designed to be that way, but not just for punishment’s sake; the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) wants to make sure that nobody can get back behind the wheel (at least legally) as long as he or she presents any risk to the public. The SOS has drawn the line in the sand, and will only reinstate a license for someone who can prove he or she has quit drinking for good and is a safe bet to never drink again. To the state, the very idea that someone might ever drink again makes him or her too much of a risk to drink and drive again, and therefore NOT a candidate for a license reinstatement. Of course, the people who have the lowest risk to drink and drive again are those who don’t drink at all, and they’re the ones who will get a second chance.

The idea of a second chance goes back to ancient and biblical times, and is wrapped up in larger, western idea of fairness. It has always been a part of American law. Sure, there are some people, like serial killers and such, who are so dangerous that we make no provision for them to walk amongst the rest of us. For everyone else, the legal system is set up so that a person receives his or her punishment and is then given another chance. This is equally true in the world of driver’s license restoration and clearance cases for people who’ve had their license revoked for multiple DUI’s, as long as they can prove themselves a safe bet to never drink again.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers we handle over 200 license appeal cases per year, my office has pretty much heard and seen it all. My office is regularly contacted by people who want their license back, but who don’t have a clue about sobriety or quitting drinking. This is a real obstacle, because the main focus of a license restoration case is proving that you have stopped drinking for a sufficient period of time, and have the commitment and tools to remain alcohol-free for good.

0a558a8c8a64ebdcf3bffb146be85fea-300x195Let me be blunt and honest here: the license restoration process is tough, by design, to the point of actually being a real pain in the a$$. The state makes it hard. That’s just the way it is, like having to fork over a chunk of the money you earn to pay income tax. Even though the process could always be made “better,” most people who are genuinely sober realize that no matter what, the reason they’re in this boat is because of their own behavior. They understand that, as much as this whole thing sucks, they can’t blame anyone else for their situation. You don’t have to like any of this, but a mindset of acceptance is one of the markers that shows a person has turned the corner in his or her life, quit drinking, and has what it take to get through the process in order to win his or her license back.

By contrast, I can usually tell, right off the bat, just by someone’s attitude, that he or she probably isn’t anywhere near sober or ready to quit drinking, much less undertake a license appeal. The day I began this article, I received an email contact that was a perfect example of this, and inspired me to write this piece. This is it, reprinted exactly as it arrived in my inbox: I have two dui with in 7. the state held my lic, due to Drs, bill $2500. Now the wan me to jump through hoops, to get it back.. What caught my eye immediately was that the writer essentially complained that they want him to “jump through hoops” to get his license back. When a person has the right disposition to win a license restoration or clearance case, their inquiries tend be more like questions how do we do this, rather than complaints about having to do it at all.

Perhaps one of the most important consequences of my guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance case is that it ensures we carefully screen every potential client to make sure he or she has what it takes for a successful appeal. For all the niceties I could mention about how you’ll only pay me once to get back on the road and such, the flip side is that I earn my living winning these cases the first time around, and that gives me a very strong incentive to screen out anyone who is not yet ready to move forward, or else I essentially double my workload while slicing my income in half. In that way, my own self-interest really stands as a huge benefit for the client, as well.

maxresdefault-300x169If that was all there is to this, then we could have stopped at that first paragraph, but, like everything else in life, it gets a bit more complicated. For every caller whose case is a clear “yes” or “no” in terms of being able to move forward right away, there are also plenty of “maybes.” It’s knowing what to do, and when to do it in those cases, that really calls upon our experience and knowledge. Nobody wants to wait longer than they should to get their license back, yet the cost of moving forward too soon is that you’re case will be denied and you’ll be stuck without a license for a whole additional year.

This is easy to understand in terms of a person being legally eligible or not to file, but it gets bogged down in the details when we throw in things like additional revocations because a person got caught driving on a suspended/revoked license, or having a medical marijuana card, being on a certain medication, or any of about a million other things that we evaluate as part of our screening process. And for all the legal situations that can exist, sometimes a person needs some help to understand how to explain his or her recovery process in a way that will be successful.

This will be a short article to clarify one simple point: that you need to be done with probation (or parole) before you can win back your driver’s license (or, if you now live out of state, win a clearance) from the Michigan Secretary of State. This is an issue that comes up multiple times every week among those who call my office looking to restore their driver’s license. There are, of course, some exceptions to this. We’ll get to them shortly, because if there weren’t any, then we’d have no need to go much beyond the first sentence of this paragraph.

ball_and_chain_3322854b-300x188First, it helps to understand why the Secretary of State requires a person to be off probation or parole. Being under legal supervision is perceived as “living in a controlled environment,” meaning that the person is NOT free to have a drink if he or she wants, simply because he or she has been ordered to abstain, with the threat of some kind of punishment hangin over his or her head for violating that order. This is more obvious when a person is still on probation for his or her last DUI and is either being tested, or at is least subject to testing, for alcohol and/or drugs. However, even if a person is not tested regularly, or at all, he or she is still under a court or parole board order to not consume any alcohol.

If a person gets caught drinking in violation of a probation order, he or she can be sent to jail. To the Secretary of State, this means that for as much as the person can prove they haven’t had a drink for X amount of time, he or she cannot also prove that his or her abstinence while on probation (or parole) was completely voluntary. In order to win a license appeal, the state wants to see time where a person chose to not drink without any threat of legal sanction, even though he or she easily could have.

You do not need to be in AA to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. My goal in this article is to make clear that AA is NOT required to win a license appeal because we are regularly contacted by people who are clearly under this misconception. They’ll express interest in getting their license back, but then say, in a kind of “aw, shucks” way, that they really are sober, but they don’t go to AA, and wonder if we can still help. Most of them are shocked when we reply that as long as they’ve quit drinking, that’s good enough, and that being in AA (or not) couldn’t matter less.

00006487-NOT-REQUIRED-1-2-300x164I certainly know what I’m talking about, and I put my money where my mouth is because I guarantee to win every license appeal case I take. The majority of my clients are not in AA. In fact, I’d estimate that around 4 out of 5 of my clients do not go to AA meetings. That said, most of my clients have gone to AA in the past, at least for a little while. Even having attended a few meetings can be very helpful in the context of a license appeal.

Often, when I write about AA, I feel like I’m either attacking it or promoting it. My intention is to do neither here, but instead, make clear that while AA is a great program it’s simply not for everyone. That said, I think it’s also true that many people can learn a lot from AA even if they only spend a short amount of time in it. Most of my clients who did some AA will agree that by the time they stopped going, they had learned some important things, and had picked up what they needed from the program. The reality is that while AA is and should be a long-term or lifetime commitment for some folks, most people manage to stay sober without the need to keep attending support group meetings.

Everybody needs a driver’s license, and anyone who has been without one for a long time feels that need even more. In this article, I want to briefly explain how needing a license, or not having had one for years, and/or just having stayed out of trouble for a long time, doesn’t matter at all when it comes to winning a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal from the Michigan Secretary of State, and then look at the main requirement for getting it back – being sober.

start-with-why-300x150On average, I file and win nearly 200 driver’s license restoration appeals each year. Every week, my office is contacted by any number of people who explain how much they need a license, or how long they’ve been without one, or how long it has been since they last got in trouble. While it is understandable that those things matter to someone who can’t legally drive, those things do not matter AT ALL to the Secretary of State. As one hearing officer says, “everybody needs a license.” To the state, the key to getting back on the road is proving that you have quit drinking, and are a safe bet to never drink again.

Similarly, a lot of people think that having stayed out of trouble for a long time makes it look like they’ve learned something, or have somehow become less “risky” than before. From the Secretary of State’s point of view, the only risk that matters is the risk that you will ever drink again. The state, for its part, could not care less about how much someone promises to never drink and drive. The simple reality is that the people who are the safest bet to never drink and drive are those who just do not drink. The idea that a person hasn’t had a DUI or other legal scrape in a long time, no matter how long, means nothing in the context of a license appeal. What you must prove in a license reinstatement case is that you will never drink again, not merely that you won’t drink and drive.