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Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, a person must prove that he or she is clean and sober, and is committed to remaining clean and sober for life. “Clean and sober” specifically means that a person does not consume or use any kind of mind or mood altering substances whatsoever. Thus, anyone who uses recreational marijuana, no matter how infrequently, is not truly “clean and sober.” This is one of the very first things anyone learns when they get into recovery.

vectorstock_1802825-300x300That brings us to an important point, because the kind of sobriety required to win a license appeal isn’t merely “incidental” in the sense that a person merely has not yet consumed any alcohol or used any drugs. Instead, a person must prove that he or she is sober by choice, meaning that he or she both understands the need for complete abstinence and has made a conscious decision to live substance-free. For its part, the Michigan Secretary of State is going to drill down and really explore the strength of a person’s ongoing commitment to do just that.

One of the most telltale indicators that someone doesn’t “get” this comes after being confronted with the need to prove that they’ve chosen to be completely clean and sober. Often, they’ll say something like, “but marijuana is legal now!” Being clean and sober means knowing one can never indulge in the use of any mind of mood-altering substances, whether they’re legal or not. The Secretary of State has specific, established criteria for granting a license appeal, and they require complete abstinence from all drugs and alcohol, and a commitment to never drink or use any kind of intoxicants again.

When is that last time you consumed alcohol? As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, this is the first thing we want to know from anyone inquiring about a license appeal case. If this isn’t about the first thing any other lawyer asks a potential client, then that lawyer doesn’t know the first thing about license appeals. After all, the ENTIRE point of a driver’s license or clearance case is proving that you have given up drinking for good, and have been alcohol-free for a legally “sufficient” period of time.

2-300x274Our office is contacted numerous times each day by people who are more than willing to pay our fee in order to win back their driver’s license. The simple fact is, if you’ve read this far, then you’ve already read more than many do. Unfortunately, though, a lot of people see how “big” our firm is in this field, and simply figure, “I want to go with them!” While that’s flattering, the reason we have such a good reputation and such a huge archive of articles and information is that we do things the right way, and that begins with making sure any potential client has genuinely quit drinking.

As it turns out, about half of the people who contact us regarding a license appeal are still drinking. The simple fact is that if you’re still drinking, you cannot win a driver’s license restoration appeal. And let me be 100% clear about this: my team and I have absolutely no interest in representing someone who will just “say” they’ve quit, or who is otherwise interested in trying to BS their way through the process. We will only take a case for a person who is honestly and genuinely sober. This is how we we win nearly 100% of our cases, and why we guarantee to win every restoration and clearance case that we do take.

Because we are a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm, my team and I deal with people looking to get back on the road every day. As the reader might imagine, over the course of 30-plus years, we’ve encountered just about every driver’s license situation one could imagine. Quite often, we are contacted by people who are currently facing or who have recently had a DWLS/DWLR (suspended or revoked license) charge. In this article, we’ll examine why a pending driving while license suspended (or revoked) charge will completely freeze any plans someone may have to file a license appeal.

DL-Pic2-291x300The inspiration for this article started with a recent string of inquires we received from people who wanted to start a license restoration case, but who had also recently pled guilty to some kind of driving while license suspended or revoked charge. What really pushed me to start writing it was an email I received earlier in the day I decided to to address this topic again. In it, the writer indicated that she had recently picked up a DWLS case, was still waiting to hear from the court, and wanted to know about representation, and whether or not it would be a good idea to get a “leg up” on it by preemptively filing a driver’s license restoration appeal.

Of course, I had to reply and point out that hurrying up and filing a license restoration appeal with a pending DWLS or DWLR case (or any pending case that involved driving) is the WORST possible idea. That said, thinking ahead about the big picture, particularly when a someone is facing some kind of driving charge, is a good idea, even the idea does come to mind a bit late. This is especially true if this can all be part of some larger strategy to resolve the DWLS or DWLR case in a way that won’t delay or otherwise screw up a person’s ability to file a license restoration case. Let’s see how this all works…

Anyone who wins a Michigan driver’s license restoration case starts out on a restricted license for at least 1 year, and only thereafter can he or she move to have his or her “full” license returned. Usually, as soon as someone gets the good news about having won his or her restricted license, they’ll immediately start talking about getting their full license back as soon as possible. Over the course of my years as a driver’s license restoration lawyer, however, I have learned that, for a lot of reasons, people often wait longer – much longer than they should – to file for full driving privileges.

DW2-300x268To begin, let me make clear that waiting is never a good idea. The reason is simple: $hit happens. Things often go wrong with ignition units. The overwhelming majority of the ignition interlock violations my team and I handle  are NOT caused by a person drinking alcohol. Rather, many result from either a malfunction of the unit or for errant alcohol readings caused by people doing things like using hand sanitizer and such. When a person uses (and relies upon) something as fickle as an interlock device for a long period of time, it’s all but inevitable that something will go wrong.

At worst, when certain problems occur while someone is on an interlock, the Secretary of State will issue a formal, written ignition interlock violation, and also automatically re-revokes the person’s license. This is called it a “reinstatement of original action,”, the original action being the initial revocation of the person’s license for multiple DUI’s. Not surprisingly, then, It’s best to keep the time frame one spends on the interlock as short as possible. The hearing officers know this through experience, and when conducting a hearing for someone who has been on a restricted license with an interlock for a lot longer than a year, they’ll often ask why the person waited so long to move forward for full driving privileges.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration attorneys, we deal with ignition interlock issues and violations every single day. In the previous article, we examined the frustration people feel when they encounter a violation due to a mechanical failure of the unit, or when testing positive for alcohol, even though they had not been drinking. In this article, we’re going to take a quick look at a situation that is almost always completely avoidable – a missed rolling retest – and what to do if or when it happens.

M2-300x253The Michigan Secretary of State makes it very clear that a person should NOT leave his or vehicle while it’s running. Here is the exact language included with every order granting a restricted license: “Never leave your vehicle running and unattended, even momentarily. If you fail to provide a timely rolling re-test for any reason, it is a major ignition interlock violation. Your original revocation/denial will be reinstated and you will lose your license.” No matter how you cut it, this directive is both clear and concise.

When a person does miss a test because he or she was outside the vehicle, they instinctively know they screwed up. What really sucks is that in almost every case, a test is missed by accident, and the person can promptly retest using his or her interlock unit, and provide a negative breath test result that leaves no doubt he or she didn’t consume any alcohol. Except that doesn’t matter. Although it’s frustrating, the simple fact is that the Secretary of State makes the rules, and missing a retest is a specified and clear violation of them.

As busy Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we know exactly how someone feels when they something goes wrong while on an ignition interlock. There is no getting around that an interlock violation sucks, and it’s even worse when the it’s not your fault. However, when there’s a problem, it’s important to fix it, and not let frustration lead to making things worse. When the cause of a violation is something like a mechanical failure, the natural and understandable reaction is to shake one’s head in anger and utter that famous line: “This is bull$hit!”

vectorstock_18985330-300x300And it may very well be, but there are still things that should be done right away. From our perspective, as license reinstatement attorneys, one of the worst examples of why this feels like “bull$hit” is that while the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) notes in every order granting a restricted license that it is “advisable” to get an independent PBT (breath) or EtG (urine) test if one misses a test of has a positive alcohol reading on the device, the fact is, it basically expects someone to do so. Given this reality, it would seem worth it for the SOS to change a few words in its orders to make that clear.

This isn’t the half of it, though, because, as of this writing, we have been seeing an increasing number of violations caused entirely by device malfunctions and other things that have nothing to do with the proper (or improper) use of an interlock unit, including the widespread use of hand sanitizer during the Covid pandemic. As unfair as it may be, this is the time to take action and do what’s necessary to protect one’s license. While the Secretary of State should really improve its written instructions regarding use of the interlock, the fact is, it has at least provided some, and it’s important to read and understand them as they stand now.

In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we handle over 200 license-related cases each year. Many of the people who ultimately become our clients do so after either having tried and lost a “do-it-yourself” driver’s license appeal, or after having hired some other lawyer and then lost. It seems strange to say this, but these people are the easiest clients for us, because they don’t need to be convinced into believing that the license appeal process is complex. Most just find this blog, read some articles, and then call us, wanting to know how soon we can get started.

vectorstock_14180104-300x300Some of those who contact us want to know if we can go to court and appeal to overturn their losing decision. It is understandably hard for people to accept losing, especially if they are genuinely sober. They’ll inevitably conclude that the hearing officer made a mistake, and that an appeal to court will give them a chance to correct it. We then have to explain that a license appeal is about proof, and that even if somebody has honestly given up drinking, the Michigan Secretary of State’s job is to evaluate the evidence presented, and determine if it it meets the “clear and convincing,” standard required by law to win.

In almost every case, an to appeal to circuit court after losing a license restoration case at the Secretary of State level is a losing proposition. The simple fact is that when some “do-it-yourselfer” or some other lawyer loses, my team and I are almost always not interested in challenging the hearing officer’s decision, because in almost every one of those cases, we see the errors the person or their lawyer made that led to the denial in the first place. Whatever else, we don’t make those kinds of mistakes, and that’s why we guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance case we take.

Beneath all the evidence and legal issues that make up a Michigan driver’s license restoration case is an actual person. In the previous article, I made clear that while being sober is a necessary prerequisite to being successful in a license appeal, being able to prove that sobriety is what’s really necessary to win. As I noted there, you have to genuinely be sober in order to prove it, and there’s more to proving it than just saying so. In essence, proving sobriety comes down to summarizing some of the more important points of your recovery story.

89u98982-300x264I often point out that one of the dangers of any “do-it-yourself” case, or going with some lawyer who doesn’t concentrate in this field, is that it’s so easy to miss any of the many technical requirements – something I often call “a million little rules” – that govern license appeals, While understanding the rules is necessary, the way to really win a case is to plug the details of a person’s transition from drinker to non-drinker into the legal framework they create. No matter what, every sober person has a very real recovery story, whether they know it or not.

This goes much deeper than all the technical and legal stuff. Anyone who has honestly quit drinking knows that there’s a lot more to it than merely “quitting.” The changes a person makes when eliminating alcohol from his or her life are profound. Even though many people have never thought of their journey to an alcohol-free life as any kind of “story,” it certainly is. Our job, as driver’s license restoration lawyers, is to sit down with our clients, ask the questions that draw out the details of that experience, and then fit them into the template of a winning case.

In my capacity as a Michigan driver’s license restoration attorney, I find myself talking and writing about sobriety all the time. I have to; it’s not just important, it’s the absolute key to winning a license appeal case. I practically jump up and down within my various articles, trying to make clear that a person must have honestly given up drinking as a precondition to winning his or her license back. Yet for all of that, a person must also be able to PROVE that he or she is sober, and that will be the focus of this installment.

vectorstock_23593529-252x300Of course, you can’t prove what’s not true, meaning that you can’t prove that you’ve quit drinking if you actually haven’t quit drinking, but there’s a flip side to this, as well: Just because a person really has quit drinking doesn’t mean he or she can actually prove it. There are endless examples of things a person would have difficulty proving he or she doesn’t do, even though they actually don’t. Imagine someone being asked to prove he or she doesn’t talk to themselves when alone; what could they do to prove otherwise? Even if they shot 100 videos showing themselves alone, all that would prove is that on those occasions, they didn’t talk out loud.

There’s an old adage that you can’t really disprove a negative. While that may not be entirely true in every situation, the larger point is that actually proving a person doesn’t ever do something can be difficult. In the context of a driver’s license appeal, the law sets out the requirements for what a person must prove, and the standard his or her evidence must meet to do that. Although it’s not easy, proving sobriety is something my team and I do every day, and we do it well enough to guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take.

In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we are frequently contacted by people who have tried a “do-it-yourself” appeal, or who hired some lawyer who claimed to “do” license reinstatement cases, and lost. This article will examine something most people don’t know about – that all license appeals begin with a “NO” answer. A big source of frustration among many people who have lost is the fact that they actually are sober – in other words, they have the key ingredient the Michigan Secretary of State looks for in every case – but that their appeal was nevertheless denied.

NO1-260x300In fact, the day before this article was written, I received just such a contact (I’ll reprint it below), and that made me think that neither this person nor their lawyer understood simple but profound implication of a key passage in the main license appeal rule: “The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following…” Although it seems straightforward, this wording is very easy to overlook, or not fully understand – except by lawyers, like us, who concentrate their practice in license restoration and clearance cases.

For as much as we can say about this provision of the law, it all turns on those 2 key words: shall not. The significance of that phrase cannot be overstated, because it amounts to a directive and instruction to the hearing officer to NOT grant a license appeal unless the person who has filed it hits certain markers. This is a very different protocol than is used in any other legal setting, where, no matter what the standard of proof, a case begins with what we could described as the scales of justice evenly balanced. In license appeals, the scales are tipped firmly to the “no” side, and to win, a person must tip them all the way to the “yes” side.

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