Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

In part 1 of this article, we began exploring the critical role of recovery and sobriety in a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. The first consideration for winning your license back is proving that you have quit drinking for a sufficient period of time, and are a safe bet to never drink again. Without that, you have no chance to win. The Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) has zero interest in how long you’ve been without a license, how much you “need” one, or anything like that. The main focus of the license appeal process is about proving that you’re sober, not just that you’ve stopped drinking.

7-1-300x206There are plenty of people that stop drinking for a while, but for that to become permanent, meaning in order for someone to go from merely being abstinent to being genuinely sober, some fundamental changes have to take place from within. Getting sober requires altering a lot of things in one’s life. This is reflected in one of the most important bits of advice a person will hear in AA: “Avoid wet faces and wet places.”

Simply put, this means that a person in early recovery should stay away from bars and places where people gather to drink, and also stay away from people who drink. That doesn’t require a person to cut out any and everyone out of their life who enjoys a glass of wine once in a while, but it does mean that they can’t be hanging with people for whom drinking is a primary activity, or hanging out with them when they do drink.

At the heart of my practice as a Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyer are issues of recovery and sobriety. In the context of a driver’s license restoration case, where everyone has had at least 2 DUI’s, the law presumes that the person has an alcohol problem. Accordingly, the main issues, in a license appeal case, are proving that the person has quit drinking, and has the commitment and tools to remain alcohol-free for good.

Sobriety-and-Recovery-1-300x185The first question – have you quit drinking? – must be answered with an honest “yes” by anyone who hopes to win back his or her driver’s license. Next, I’ll need to know when. In general, a person should have at least a year sober before giving any serious consideration to starting a license appeal. In practice, I generally won’t file a license appeal until my client has been sober for a minimum of 18 months.

The idea of having quit drinking for good is so basic that it’s easily overlooked as people think about getting their license back. The Michigan Secretary of State, however, doesn’t overlook anything, and has very clear-cut rules about granting license appeals that require a person to have been alcohol-free for a sufficient period of time, as well as proving they are likely to remain sober for life.

Ignition interlock violations are an unfortunate fact of life for many people on a restricted license. As busy Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we do all we can to help our clients avoid getting a violation in the first place, and will even try and head one off, if possible. However, the sheer number of people required to use these devices at any given time means that there will always be a lot of violations. Inevitably, a sizable part of our caseload is made up of interlock violations.

xxx-167x300As much as I want to (and, in other articles have tried) to write about how to avoid getting violated, the problem is that nobody goes online and looks for anything about ignition interlock violations until after there has been a problem. Although that’s probably the case right now, just in case the reader finds this piece soon enough after something like a missed or positive breath test, please follow the Secretary of State’s advice that you either promptly get a PBT test at a local police station, or at least get an EtG urine test the same day as any positive or missed test. And yes, they know there is a camera on your interlock unit, but they still prefer an independent test, anytime you miss or test positive.

Part and parcel of being a busy license restoration practice is that we do, in fact, see it all. I can honestly say that we have had numerous cases where, unbeknownst to the client, his or her camera somehow moved out of aim and was not pointing directly at the face, and therefore the pictures that accompanied all the relevant breath samples did not clearly identify him or her as the person providing them. In fact, in one case, proving it was my client who re-tested clean turned on the distinctive watch he was wearing. Can you say for sure that, right now, that your camera is still perfectly aimed?

There’s a lot more to being a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer than just winning license appeals. As I thought about this, an acronym – GUT – came to mind, for the 3 words that best describe our practice: guarantee (my office guarantees to win every restoration case), understanding (we have profoundly deep interest in and understanding of real recovery and sobriety), and trust (our clients trust us to take care of them entirely, as people, including making sure they know all about the interlock device and helping with problems along the way).

happy-driver-3-300x241Our guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration or clearance case is important and valuable, but it falls far short of telling the whole story about what kind of people we are. After all, my team and I could be real jerks but still guarantee our work. The idea for this article came about as we realized how much involvement we have with our clients after winning back their licenses. This often includes extra work to help a client avoid or head off an ignition interlock violation.

Interlock violations are very common. That’s why part of the ongoing service we provide to our clients is to help them at every step, including once they’re driving on a restricted license. Even though “heading off” a violation is something of a crapshoot, and the state’s decision to drop an issue is often arbitrary, we put our hearts and souls into always being there for our clients. Most of this follow-up work is done without charge, because we consider it to be part and parcel of what a client has paid for, and deserves.

One of the best parts of my job as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer is actually winning licenses back for people. As much as I have written about how my team and I guarantee to win every case we take, and why we can do that, I want this article to shift the focus to how awesome it is to actually be the person, and be with the person, who wins.

preview-300x169Over the course of my years, I have been rewarded with a heartfelt “thank you” countless times. For everything we do, nothing beats the satisfaction of actually helping someone who genuinely deserves to be able to drive again win back a valid license. I feel good about my driver’s license restoration work. I help honest, sober people get back on the road, not risky drinkers.

The simple truth is that the work that most lawyers do is miserable. Almost nobody comes into a lawyer’s office on a roll. This is certainly true for anyone facing a DUI or criminal charge. Although I have never handled a divorce case, I’d be hard-pressed to imagine a situation much more unpleasant than that.

As a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer who handles around 200 cases a year, I get loads of calls and emails from people who want to win back their driver’s licenses. Because I guarantee to win every case I take, I have to make sure that everyone I do accept can and will, in fact, win. The absolute key to winning a driver’s license restoration or clearance case is proving that you have really quit drinking, and are a safe bet to never drink again. In other words, the main focus of a license appeal is on drinking, and making sure that you have quit and will stay quit. Without that, nothing else matters.

Square_important_series-450x450-300x300The simple truth is, the whole sobriety thing is misunderstood, if not completely missed, by most people. Almost everyone who emails me, for example, will give the year of their last DUI conviction or will indicate how long it’s been since they’ve had a license. They’ll often go on to explain how hard it’s been for them to get by without a license, and how much they need one. That’s all great, but none of it matters a bit unless a person can also show how much their lives have changed without alcohol. Accordingly, the first question I have of anyone interested in a license appeal is, “when did you quit drinking?”

A big problem is that many people don’t really understand what sobriety actually means. In the context of a driver’s license appeal, it means that a person has quit drinking for good. It does NOT mean that a person still drinks, but does so differently, or less, or only once in a while. Moreover, it does NOT mean that a person can or should ever try to BS his or her way through a license restoration case by falsely claiming to have quit drinking. In fact, a major purpose of the license appeal process is for the Michigan Secretary of State to find anyone who is trying to scam their way back onto the road by lying about their drinking.

In part 1 of this article, I began explaining how my office does consultations (over the phone, right when a person calls, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.), and how they provide the opportunity for a person to evaluate whether my office is a good fit for his or her case, and for us to assess the caller. I also noted that I publish my prices, not only in the interests of transparency, but also so that we don’t waste time with anyone shopping for a bargain lawyer. We ended by promising to come back, here in part 2, and talk about how we do our consultations.

downloaderUnderstand this: a consultation is invariably a sales opportunity. If you want some kind of plastic surgery and have consultations with several physicians, it’s not because they’re bored and want to talk about medical procedures with strangers. This goes for just about anything. A free consultation is very much like a “free estimate.” Do you really think that lawyers look forward to bringing people into their offices for a “free consultation” so that they can answer all kinds of legal questions?

It seems pretty obvious that the ideal purpose of a consultation is for each party to size up the other in order to make a hiring decision. In the real world, though, this often becomes a kind of game where the person providing the consultation really “steers” the person toward making that decision before they leave.

My office does consultations differently than just about every other lawyer and law firm. In this article, I want to explain how we do them, and why that’s important. My consultations are specifically intended for those who are looking to hire a lawyer in one of my practice areas and maybe doing some comparison shopping and want to get a little information or see if my office is a good fit for their needs. All of my consultations are done over the phone, right when a person calls into the office.

CULTURETWO_3739_1-300x300That convenience factor of doing it this way is also a benefit for me, also, because as much as a consultation is an opportunity for a potential client to size up a lawyer or law firm, it also provides an opportunity for us to evaluate a person and determine if he or she will be a good fit for the way we do things. I am fortunate enough to have a busy practice, and therefore don’t have to take every case that comes my way, nor do I have to compete on price. In fact, I publish my fees, not only in the interests of transparency, but also, because we offer higher-end services, to weed out bargain hunters or anyone else who is price-shopping.

Beyond all of that, I have no interest in taking on any sort of “difficult” client. Younger lawyers and those who are starving for work have little choice but to sit silently as some angry person goes on about how everyone else is at fault, how the police got it all wrong, or how the court system is unfair, but I don’t. If you’ve dealt with the public, then you know some people seem to always have a chip on their shoulders, or are otherwise just always a pain the a$$. I can afford to pass on them, and I do.

In part 1 of this article, I began reviewing how my in-depth understanding of recovery, and the various way people do, in fact, recover from alcohol (and drug) problems gives me a decided advantage as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, to the point that my office guarantees to win every first time license restoration and clearance case we take. Our overview began with a discussion on the importance of examining a person’s relationship with alcohol in the context of DUI cases, and particularly 2nd offense cases. Here, in part 2, we’re going to shift that focus to recovery, and how that is central to success in a driver’s license appeal case.

2-300x184When someone contacts me about a license restoration or clearance appeal, the first thing I want to know is the last time he or she had a drink. There is no way to overstate this: proving you have quit drinking for a sufficient period of time and have the commitment and tools to remain alcohol-free is the absolute key to winning a driver’s license appeal. Nothing else matters without sobriety.

This is where a lot of people, including lawyers, get lost – right at the part about having the “commitment and tools” to stay sober. Pretty much everyone in the world is familiar with AA, but unfortunately, that’s also just about all most people know about recovery. For a long time, AA was the only game in town. Before AA, the only way to address alcohol problems was what we now call the “moral model,” where the hope was a person could be shamed into not drinking anymore, or somehow “prayed” into recovery. Not surprisingly, that didn’t work.

Up until recently, if you would have asked what I think sets me apart as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, my answer would have almost certainly centered on the fact that my office guarantees to win every license restoration and clearance case we take. However, a recent discussion with Ann, my senior assistant, provided an insight that I think is helpful to someone as he or she looks for a lawyer. As she pointed out, what makes us so different from every other lawyer is that we really know and care about recovery and sobriety. We’ll examine this over 2 installments.

heart-recovery-300x218In a very real way, I seemed to have overlooked the recovery aspect, probably because it’s so central to who I am and the work I do. To be sure, my articles about sobriety leave no doubt that my understanding of the development, diagnosis, treatment of, and recovery from alcohol and drug problems runs very deep, and goes miles beyond the legal aspects involved in winning a license appeal. Having completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies, I bring a healthy measure of clinical knowledge unmatched by any other lawyer I know.

However, it goes even farther than that, because my reasons for spending the money and time on all this was to be able to actually help my clients; first, as people, and second, within the context of their license restoration, DUI or criminal cases. That’s the part I have been overlooking. I’m going to put false modesty aside for a moment and candidly point out that if you’re looking for a lawyer, you simply will not find any other attorney or law firm that comes close to knowing about or believing in recovery like me and my team.