Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I understand how difficult it is to get by without a license. Everyone who calls us for a license appeal needs to be able to drive again. The catch, however, is that “needing” a license has absolutely nothing to do with being able to get it back. In order to win a driver’s license appeal, a person must first be genuinely sober. Then, we have to prove it, as required by the laws governing the license restoration process.

I need a driver's license to support myselfIt is incredibly frustrating to be unable to legally drive. Plenty of people, therefore, choose to take their chances and drive even without a valid license. Some of them get caught and, in doing so, push back their the date they’ll ever be eligible to file a license appeal. One question we are asked all the time goes something like this: “How do they expect me to support [myself] or [my family] if I can’t drive?” There is no real answer to this question, precisely because there is no “they” who expects anything. There is only the law, and that’s what we’ll be looking at in this article.

Let’s begin by trying to clear up the whole “they” thing. As we just noted, there is no “they” who passes out license penalties. To the extent that there ever was anything like a “they,” it was the legislature in place at the time the governing law(s) were passed. And whatever else, it’s not likely that much thought was given to the ultimate ramifications of any of those laws beyond their political value at the time. Sure, drunk driving is bad, and it is good we have laws against it. However, the impact to peoples’ livelihoods as a result of the attendant driver’s license penalties was not at the forefront of any legislative “thought” process.

A person MUST be sober – and prove it – in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. This requires a lot more than just saying one has quit drinking. We’ll examine what’s required to win a license appeal and spell it out in plain English below. However, the real focus of this article is going to be on the single, best proof that a person really has quit drinking for good – a sober lifestyle. No matter what, every sober person lives a sober lifestyle to some extent or other.

A license restoration case is won by showing you live a sober lifestyleWe’ll begin by defining exactly what we mean by “sober” and “sobriety.” As used in the context of a license appeal for someone who has lost the privilege to drive after multiple DUI’s, the terms mean that one has COMPLETELY quit drinking and using any other drugs, including (and especially) recreational marijuana. That decision to quit drinking and get sober naturally follows when a person has just “had enough” of the trouble caused by his or her alcohol and/or drug use.

In other words, a sober person is one who has decided that he or she is going to remain abstinent permanently. The intention to never pick up again is really the defining hallmark of sobriety. Getting sober is not about merely taking a break from drinking, or cutting back, or anything like that. A person must first get to that point when they think, “no more,” and then set about making sure they don’t ever drink or get high again. To make that stick, they make certain lifestyle changes to support remaining alcohol and drug-free.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I genuinely care about our clients. We want them to win. Of course, anyone can say that, but we actually guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take. That literally makes us invested in our clients’ success. In addition, our firm has a reputation to uphold. We would NEVER want anyone in the Secretary of State to perceive us as a firm that will merely take a case to get paid. We only represent people who satisfy the state’s sobriety requirement for license appeals.

You're in good hands with us - we are Michigan driver's license lawyers who careTo win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, a person has to prove that he or she is sober. Our firm requires a potential client to be sober before we’ll take his or her case. We won’t represent anyone who hasn’t honestly quit drinking (and/or using drugs, including recreational marijuana). This means we’re never in the awkward position of representing some “scammer” who is merely trying to BS his or her way through the license appeal process. As a consequence, we genuinely believe in our clients.

The idea of a license restoration client losing isn’t just about getting a mark in the “L” column as opposed to the “W” column. Nor is it about having to honor our guarantee, either. Instead, we take our cases personally. To be brutally honest here, I sometimes wish that wasn’t the case. Having a strong conscience can sometimes be a burden. It would be a lot more profitable if we could take someone’s money, give the case our best shot, and then, win or lose, just move on. We can’t however, and that’s precisely because we’re honest.

To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, a person must show complete abstinence from alcohol and drugs. In addition, he or she must demonstrate a commitment to permanently remain abstinent. In other words, he or she must prove sobriety. As a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm, we don’t just know sobriety, we live this stuff. Sobriety is at the core of everything we do, and there is nobody who understands it better than us.

Understanding sobriety is how we win Michigan driver's license restoration casesI learned a lot through the practice of driver’s license restoration and DUI law. Then, some years ago, I decided to go further and learn the clinical side of alcohol and substance abuse problems and recovery. To do that, I completed a formal, post-graduate program of addiction studies. Now, my team and I use this specialized knowledge every day to win driver’s license restoration cases. Everyone in our firm has a deep understanding of the development, diagnosis, treatment of and recovery from alcohol and substance abuse problems.

This is useful in several different ways. First, we know how to screen potential clients to make sure they really are clean and sober. The reader would likely be shocked at how many people call us and indicate that they’d be willing to say “whatever you need me to” in order to win back their drivers license. While such thinking is understandable, we’re not interested in anything like that. Our firm guarantees to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal we accept. To do that, we ONLY take cases for people who are genuinely sober.

Anyone who has a Michigan hold on his or her driving record needs what’s called a clearance to get it off. That hold will prevent a person from either obtaining or renewing a license in another state. Our firm handles about 200 license appeal cases each year. Nearly half of our clients are people who live outside of Michigan and need a clearance. A driver’s license restoration case and a clearance appeal case are essentially identical, except for the final result.

A clearance removes a Michigan hold on your driving record so that you can get a license in another state.When a person wins a restoration case, his or her Michigan driver’s license is restored. By contrast, when a person wins a clearance case, the Michigan Secretary of State releases its hold on his or her driving record. By doing so, the person’s record gets “cleared,” and then he or she can either get or renew a license in their home state. Understandably, no state can grant driving privileges in another state. In other words, Michigan can’t grant an Arizona or Florida license. All it can do is get out of the way for them to be able to do so.

Legally speaking, a person can file a “do-it-yourself” kind of clearance appeal called an Administrative Review. Statistically speaking, 3 out of every 4 of these are denied. Moreover, there’s no way to determine how many of the people who eventually do win have tried before. Put another way, an Administrative Review is basically a shortcut to losing. Before the reader thinks, “Of course he’s going to say that, otherwise he won’t get the business,” let me explain.

An ignition interlock violation is a nightmare. The notice of violation arrives in the mail and informs the person that his or her license WILL be revoked again on a certain, upcoming date. Sometimes, the things that give rise to a violation just happen beyond a person’s control. Other times, however, like when a person was already eligible to file for a full license, but didn’t, the ugly truth is that he interlock violation could have been avoided. The inspiration for this article came from real life case of ours we recently (and successfully) handled.

An ignition interlock violation can derail any plans to get a full licenseThe client had already hired us to appeal for a full license, but was a bit slow getting everything together. Then, an interlock violation occurred. In this case, it was a “Tamper/Circumvent” violation because the person’s battery had died. Sometimes, if we are contacted timely, my team and I can head off a violation by making sure we get full and proper documentation to the Secretary of State (SOS). This is only possible when there is a mechanical problem with the vehicle or the interlock unit.

Taking care of these kinds of problems is something our firm does without charge for our existing clients. In this case, however, the client didn’t contact us about the battery issue, and instead sent something to the SOS that (obviously) didn’t work. For everything we’re going to discuss in this piece, the main point is that staying on the interlock longer the minimum time required is just a risk. The problem is that lots of people don’t see it that way because, knowing they’re not going to drink or do anything “wrong,” they’ll be okay.

Letters of support are a critical part of every Michigan driver’s license restoration case. By law, a person must include at least 3 signed, dated and notarized support letters when he or she files a restoration appeal case. Unfortunately, a lot can (and often does) go wrong with them. One of the primary reasons cases get denied is because the letters weren’t done correctly. Accordingly, their importance cannot be overstated. In this article, we’re going to examine some key requirements for and other quirks of practice regarding them.

Letters of support are important to a license restoration appeal caseFor example, despite the legal mandate for a minimum of 3 support letters, there is one hearing officer who explicitly states a preference for at least 6, and as many as 10. For what it’s worth, our firm will generally not move a case forward with anything less than 4, although we encourage and prefer that our clients to provide more. We require 4 so that if 1 of them is discounted for some reason (like a faulty notarization), then we’ll still have the mandatory minimum of 3 viable letters pending in the case.

One big issue anyone will encounter as they pursue a license restoration appeal case is who to ask for letters. The person filing a license restoration appeal may have a few candidates in mind, but it’s not uncommon for some (or even all) of them to NOT know the full story about the person’s alcohol and/or substance use history. A person may be okay with asking a co-worker who knows they don’t drink, and that they’ve had some DUI troubles in the past, to write a letter. That coworker, though, may not know the person’s entire DUI, alcohol and/or drug use history.

How many witnesses should a person have for a Michigan driver’s license restoration hearing? Understandably, one might think something like, “more is better,” but that’s not true. In fact, the answer is quite the opposite. Almost without exception, the perfect number is ZERO. Calling a witness at a license restoration hearing is an amateur mistake of the first order. My team and I NEVER use live witness testimony in a restoration or clearance hearing, and we guarantee to win every such case we take.

Witness testimony should almost never be presented in a driver's license restoration hearingThis seems counter-intuitive. One would think that presenting a larger amount of favorable evidence is better than submitting less. Why would anyone choose less evidence instead of more? That question, however, misses the key point of this article. Very often, witnesses wind up doing more harm than good. This always comes as an unpleasant surprise to the person or lawyer who doesn’t know better. However, to those of us who concentrate our work in driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal cases, this is an entirely predictable result.

The danger of calling a witness in a license restoration hearing is one of those things that lawyers just learn the hard way, over time. It’s a forgivable mistake for anyone who tries a “do-it-yourself” license appeal, but not so much for an attorney who should be selling his or her experience. Anyone who hires our firm has every right to expect that we will get his or her license back. Nobody should fork over their money for a mere “shot” at winning. That’s exactly why our firm has a guarantee.

In our 30-plus years of work as Michigan Driver’s License restoration lawyers, my team and I had always preferred to conduct our restoration appeal hearings live, and in person. When the Covid pandemic hit, the entire license appeal process came to a screeching halt. Later, when hearings resumed, none were live; all of them were (and still are) conducted “virtually.” A virtual hearing is very different than the video hearings previously used by the Michigan Secretary of State. In his article, we’re going to examine this, and learn why the new way of doing things is actually pretty good.

License restoration appeals are now done virtually, and that's great!First, the reader needs to understand some differences between what was, and what is. The video hearings from before Covid are nothing like the online, virtual hearings in use today. In the past, a video hearing required a person to physically appear at a designated Secretary of State branch office. These offices were equipped with a special room that had a kind of closed-circuit TV on a wall. There was also a large, motorized camera nearby and somewhere, a room mic, as well. The sound was unfocused, boomy, and, to put it bluntly, just plain awful.

The picture on the hearing room’s TV wasn’t much better. It was wide-angle, as the camera was positioned all the way across the room, in order to capture a long front row desk. This was done so that the picture could include the person appealing, his or her attorney(s), and a witness. The camera could not provide a close up of anyone, so nuances of body language and facial expression were completely lost. It was like early 90’s technology. There simply was no detail in the picture, and the sound was so poor that trying to make out what was being said was both difficult and distracting.

You must be genuinely sober – and then prove it – to win a Michigan license appeal case. That sounds simple enough, but what does it really mean to be sober? Everyone knows the difference between being intoxicated as opposed to being “stone-cold sober.” Here, though, we’re talking about sobriety, meaning when a person decides to quit drinking for good. As we’ll see, there is more to sobriety than merely not drinking, although that’s certainly the starting point for it.

Sobriety is required to win a Michigan license appeal caseIn a Michigan license appeal case, it is, of course, the hearing officer’s understanding of sobriety that matters most. As we just noted, to win a license appeal, a person has to prove his or her sobriety. The Michigan Secretary of State hearing officer presiding over the case is the one who decides whether that’s been done satisfactorily or not. Although different people can have varied understandings of it, there are certain foundational characteristics that are always present in real sobriety. That’s what we’ll be looking at in this piece.

To be sure, there are some people whose sobriety is just plain obvious, like a neon sign in the dark of night. Often, they follow the old-school model of attending AA and are very “public” about their recovery. That’s fine for them. As an old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However, that kind of recovery process is NOT for everyone. In fact, it’s probably not the right fit for most people. More important, it doesn’t really matter what anyone “thinks” of someone else’s recovery. Instead, the only thing that matters is that the person manages to become and then stay sober.

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