Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

A person who uses recreational marijuana cannot win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. Plenty of people will not like to hear this, and will try to argue things like, “marijuana is legal now,” or, “it’s not fair,” but the simple fact is that the recreational use of marijuana is a 100% complete bar to winning back your driver’s license. From our perspective, as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, the legalization of recreational marijuana has really been a nightmare that has required us to do a lot of explaining, as I’ll do in this article.

Pot2-300x281Let’s begin with the most foundational, basic proposition of all: License appeals are about sobriety. More specifically, they are all about proving that you’re sober, by the legally required standard of “clear and convincing evidence.” Before we get to that, however, it’s critical to understand what sobriety really is, and, just as important, what it isn’t. At it’s most basic, sobriety, in the context of license appeal cases, is the choice of a person to permanently refrain from the use of any and all intoxicating, mind-altering, or potentially habit-forming substances.

When someone has had his or her driver’s license revoked after racking up 2 or more DUI’s, the state concludes that he or she is a demonstrated risk when it comes to drinking and driving. We’ll examine the law later in this piece, but the bottom line is that the law makes very clear that anyone who has lost his or her license for multiple DUI’s can’t get it back until they prove that they no longer drink or use any other substances, and that are committed to never drinking (or using any other drugs) again. Whatever else, it’s a simple fact that people who no longer drink are zero risk to ever drive drunk again.

If you have a Michigan hold on your driving record, it will prevent you from getting (or, in some cases, renewing) a license in another state. If that hold is from a revocation following multiple DUI’s, you won’t be able to have it removed until you win a formal driver’s license clearance appeal. As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, handling out-of-state clearance appeals is a HUGE part of our work. Out of the 200-plus license appeal matters we handle each year, over 40% of them involve clearances for people who do not live in Michigan.

vectorstock_36249759-copy-300x300In this article, we’re going to look at how a Michigan driver’s license clearance appeal should be done. My team and I are long beyond the point of just “knowing” how to do them. Instead, we have developed, implemented, and, ultimately, refined a system to handle clearance appeals that is so good, we guarantee to win every case we take (more on that later). The key to our success lies in the fact that we handle and manage every single detail and facet of every case we take, right from the start. This allows us to have complete quality control, and while that may sound boastful, it’s not; it’s just a fact.

To be blunt about it, anything less is simply not good enough. A person doesn’t lose a license appeal because he or she got 99% of it right; he or she loses because of the one thing in their case that was missed, or that wasn’t good enough, or that was just plain done wrong. Because our firm makes sure we control everything that goes into a case, we don’t have that problem. This is true even though appeals are now heard remotely, as is much of the legal work we do that goes into them.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, my team and I deal with DWLS (Driving While License Suspended) and DWLR (Driving While License Revoked) charges almost every day. In this article, we’re going to focus on why getting caught driving when one’s license is revoked can really hurt a person’s ability to get back on the road again legally. Specifically, we’re going to look at what happens when the Michigan Secretary of State learns that a person has driven after his or her license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s.

Cop3-1-300x251Under Michigan’s DUI laws, if a person is convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years, his or her license will be revoked for a minimum of 1 year, and if he or she is convicted of 3 DUI’s within 10 years, then their license will be revoked for a minimum of 5 years. State law also requires that, if a person gets caught driving while his or her license is revoked, what’s called a “mandatory additional” period of revocation be imposed, meaning that he or she will get an additional revocation slapped on top of his or her current period of revocation.

Once a person’s license gets revoked, it will stay revoked unless and until he or she files and wins a formal driver’s license restoration appeal. The “mandatory additional” means that, once someone’s license is revoked, if he or she gets caught driving at any time before it is legally restored, then an additional revocation will be added onto to his or her existing period of revocation. This action is, as noted, mandatory, and it does not matter if a person is or was “eligible” to file a license appeal at the time he or she got caught driving.

The last formal step in a Michigan driver’s license restoration case is the hearing. Although it is very important, the hearing should never be something that a person dreads, or fears. In this article, we’re going to talk about preparing for it, and examine why that really begins from day one of a license restoration and clearance case. That may seem like a generic, almost meaningless statement, but it’s not. In license appeal cases, as with so many things, the key to success lies in the preparation. To borrow a line that applies here, “good work is the key to good fortune.”

vectorstock_33350257-copy-300x300In that vein, one thing that gets overlooked all too often by lawyers who don’t concentrate in license restoration or clearance cases, as our firm does, is the critical value of always paying attention to the fundamentals. Cases are won by putting in the time on the “grunt work,” meaning the mundane and regular tasks. No matter what the job, it’s easy to become complacent and do the routine work on “auto-pilot,” but in license appeal cases, that can prove fatal. Instead, we keep our focus sharp and concentrate on all those little details that, when put together, become the foundation of a winning case.

An important part of what my team and I do is to separately prepare every client for their hearing. We usually do this shortly before (typically, the day before) it takes place, so everything will be fresh in his or her mind. This is nothing special, however, and we see it as being fundamental, and as basic a requirement as it is for a medical person to use an alcohol swab and wipe the spot on a person’s skin where blood will be taken, or an injection given. Indeed, any lawyer who doesn’t thoroughly prep the client for his or her license appeal hearing is seriously underperforming.

One of the more common things we hear when people call us about restoring their driver’s license is a clear sense of frustration about the need to go through the whole appeal process. In this article, I want to address the mindset of those who think and say things like “this isn’t fair” and/or “I don’t deserve this.” While those feelings are always understandable (and sometimes accurate, as well), it will be far more helpful to provide a simple explanation of the how the law functions in order to clarify what can (and can’t) be done, and when, to get someone’s license back.

Board2-300x265As a preliminary matter, the reader should note that we are a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm, and we only make money by taking cases, not by turning them away. I point this out because, while some of the Secretary of State’s rules governing license appeals may legitimately seem to drive some unfair results, my team and I don’t make those rules; we have to work within them. Sometimes, when we explain to a person why we can’t take his or her case because of how things work, their frustration will boil over, and they’ll say something like “this is bull$hit!”

The problem with that kind of thinking is that it overlooks the fact that anyone who has had his or her license revoked for multiple DUI’s needs to bear in mind that they didn’t wind up in this situation by accident. Plenty of people try to explain that, despite their own record of DUI’s, they know somebody who has driven drunk way more, but not been caught, or someone who supposedly lied their way through the license appeal process and won, but still drinks. Even if those things are true, they’re not arguments that will help win your license back. In fact, that kind of talk will get you denied faster than anything.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I deal with all the legal requirements a person must meet in order to win his or her license back. That’s part of our job, as is explaining it to the people who call us about getting back on the road. In this article, we’re going to take a step back, simplify things and look at license appeals from as non-technical a perspective as possible. In that way, an easy way to begin this discussion it to say that, in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case, you have to essentially hit a home run.

KISS4-300x267Because the way Michigan law works, if you’ve had your license revoked for racking up multiple DUI’s, then you are presumed to have a drinking problem. If you disagree with that, then you’re stuck in a holding pattern, because the license appeal rules require that you prove, by what is specified as “clear and convincing evidence” (we have to get technical here) that you have honestly quit drinking, and are a safe bet to never drink again. Put another way, you have to prove that you are sober, and have both the ability and the commitment to remain sober for life.

In a very real way, we could just leave it there, as there’s not a whole lot more to the process. However (and this is somewhat ironic), it’s the follow-up questions and concerns that people have that require more detailed explanations. A significant percentage of people will read (or be told) what’s in the previous paragraph and have all kinds of questions that start with phrases like, “What about…?” Many will explain how much they need to drive, and argue that their situation should be seen as some kind of exception, and that the rules shouldn’t fully apply to them.

In our capacity as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we have a love-hate relationship with “do-it-yourself” driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals. On the one hand, we love them because half of more of the people who hire us do so after having tried and lost on their own. On the other hand, we hate them because there is often extra work we have to do to repair what caused the case to be denied in the first place. Of course, none of this “repair work” would have been necessary had the person hired us, but, as the old saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

DIY2-300x260That said, the reader may expect this article to try and dissuade him or her from trying a “do-it-yourself” license appeal, but it won’t. Although there are plenty of reasons why a person would be far better served by hiring our firm right out of the gate, the simple fact is that we’re always going to be here, and there really aren’t that many reasons why a person inclined to try handling his or her own case shouldn’t do just that. In other words, if you want to take a shot at doing your own license appeal, then, by all means, go for it!

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there is very much a self-serving interest in me saying “go for it,” because the vast majority of people who try on their own won’t succeed. Afterwards, many will call us, and we have learned through our decades of experience that these folks make great clients, because they don’t have to be “sold” on anything. Instead, having already been through the process, only to be denied, they’ll phone our office and the most important question they’ll have is how soon we can get started on their next appeal.

To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, you must first be genuinely sober, and then you have to prove it within the Secretary of State’s governing rules. For as complex as the appeal process can be, winning your license back really boils down to those 2 things. These are not separate requirements. Instead, proving that you’re sober is first dependent upon actually being sober. The proofs required to win your license back go directly to whether or not a person has genuinely quit drinking, and then taken the necessary actions to remain permanently alcohol free.

dl2-275x300Perhaps the biggest mistake people make is thinking they can just say the right things to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. While a person must really be sober and present evidence to support his or her claims, the whole point of the legal process is for the Michigan Secretary of State to verify if they are true, or not. The hearing officers who decide these cases know that people will try every trick in the book, and they expect to hear everything, all the way from gentle BS to outright fabrications. An important part of the hearing officer’s job is to put everything a person submits, both in his or her documents and through testimony, to the test.

This is where we can really see the inherent connection between actually being sober and proving it. You simply can’t prove the existence of something that is not true. In practice, that doesn’t stop loads of people from trying to convince the hearing officer that they’ve quit drinking, but as noted above, those hearing officers come in each day, expecting people to try and feed them a line of BS. Over time, the hearing officers develop a keen expertise for being able to distinguish real sobriety from anything less.

In our work as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers who handle over 200 license matters per year, we deal with a LOT of ignition interlock violation issues. This article has one simple goal: to make clear that anyone who tests positive for alcohol should IMMEDIATELY go and get a PBT test, or, if more than an hour has passed, then get an EtG urine test. The inspiration for it came about as the result of a recent conversation with one of my associate lawyers about common interlock problems that we see almost daily.

PBT4-291x300This isn’t going to be a “hit piece” on the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), but the simple fact is that the SOS fails to make crystal clear what a person is expected to after a positive test result. To be sure, some guidance is provided: Within every order granting a driver’s license restoration appeal is a section called “Proper Interlock Use,” but as we’ll see, the Secretary of State could be a lot more specific, especially in light of what the hearing officers look for when they are deciding an ignition interlock violation case, or even when reviewing a final report for someone who has filed an appeal for a full license.

This applies to anyone on an interlock who blows into his or her BAIID and gets a positive result. Instead of its supposed “guidance,” the Secretary of State should provide clear and direct instructions. In light of that omission, here is what you need to know: If you EVER provide a positive breath sample, you should immediately go to the nearest police station, sheriff’s department, or state police post and get a PBT (portable breath test). As we’ll see, there are other things you can do, but there is NOTHING that’s as good as getting a timely PBT test, and “timely,” as used here, means right away, not an hour or more later.

In part 1 of this article, we started answering the question “When is the soonest a person whose license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s can file – and win – a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal case?” We began by noting that these revocations are for life, meaning that they will remain in place unless and until a person files – and wins – a formal license appeal. We also clarified that anyone whose license was revoked for 2 DUI’s within 7 years, a person can file an appeal after 1 year, while anyone who racks up 3 DUI’s within 10 years can do so after 5 years.

XXXX-300x296Understanding how this actually works requires knowing what the Michigan Secretary of State means when it notifies a person that he or she is revoked “for life.” Even though someone can file a license appeal after either 1 or 5 years, he or she must accumulate enough voluntary sobriety time in order to actually win it. This is easier to explain by pointing what it’s not: Any time a person was abstinent, but also either in jail or prison, or was on probation or parole, is NOT considered purely voluntary, because he or she either could not obtain alcohol (like while in jail) or was under orders not to consume any, like while on probation.

It’s right here that a lot of people will jump in (and practically start jumping up and down) and try to explain that even though they had been required, in some way or other, to abstain from alcohol, they had already made the decision to quit drinking, so their clean time really was a matter of choice.

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