Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we handle a lot of ignition interlock violation cases. We regularly save people from having their licenses permanently revoked. Many interlock violations seem unnecessary, and indeed, some really are unfair. However, there are also others that arise because a person does, in fact, test positive after having consumed beverage alcohol. In other words, they get caught drinking. Those situations are, by far, the worst. In this article, we’ll explore how to best handle an interlock violation.

Follow the rules to avoid and know what to do if you get an ignition interlock violation.First, it’s important to understand that when our firm is hired to get someone out of an ignition interlock violation, we have to do a lot more than just show how or why it’s wrong. In fact, that’s often the easiest part of handling a violation case. A notice of ignition interlock violation provides, among other things, the date when the person’s license will be revoked again. Before a hearing date arrives, the person’s license will already be gone. The point of a violation hearing is about getting it back, but the whole process involves a lot more than just that.

Rather than grumble about how much this whole situation sucks, we’re going to focus on fixing it. To be sure, the Secretary of State’s entire interlock system could be revamped so that simple interlock mistakes could be more easily rectified. As we acknowledged in the opening paragraph, having to go through this can be unfair. However, and as the old saying goes, “it is what it is.” All the complaining in the world isn’t going to overturn a pending ignition interlock violation. Instead, we have to do what’s necessary to win.

This blog is full of articles examining every aspect of the Michigan license appeal process. It is difficult enough to boil down a discussion of any one part of driver’s license restoration cases into a single article. In this article, we’re going to be even more ambitious, and try to do a short but complete overview of the entire Michigan license appeal process in one shot. In other words, we’re going to skip the detailed analysis and take a step back and look at the whole, big picture.

A lawyer explains the Michigan license appeal processOf course, a person must first be eligible to file a license restoration or clearance appeal case. To be clear, we’re talking about people who’ve been revoked for 2 or more DUI’s and/or drugged driving convictions. As a starting point, it is important to understand that these revocations are for life. This means that no matter how long a person waits, his or her driving privileges will stay revoked until he or she files – and wins – a formal driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal.

Technically, a person who racks up 2 DUI’s in 7 years can file a license appeal after 1 year. In practice, however, anyone with 2 DUI convictions in 7 years is going to have to wait much closer to 3 or more years to have any realistic chance of winning his or her case. Someone who racks up 3 DUI’s within 10 years must wait until 5 years have passed before he or she can file. Thus, if Dave the drinker gets a DUI in 2007, another in 2009, another in 2010, and then another in 2018, his “3 within 10” will make him ineligible to file until sometime in 2023.

A lot of our clients hire us after having first tried – and then lost – a “do-it-yourself” driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case. When they call our office, they’re biggest concern is when they can get started on a new appeal. They already know, from experience, how complicated the Michigan license appeal process can be. In many cases it’s actually easier for us to deal with people after they’ve tried and lost, rather than attempting to dissuade them beforehand by warning of all the risks of a DIY license appeal.

The DIY Michigan license appeal case is a disaster in the makingIn truth, this is a key reason why we never discourage anyone from handling their own case. Over the last 30-plus years, we’ve represented thousands of clients who’ve had to find out the hard way about some of the obscure aspect or other of the Michigan license appeal process that even most lawyers don’t know. For as many “do-it-yourself” clients as we get, plenty also come to us after having hired some lawyer whose practice, unlike ours, is NOT specifically focused on license restoration cases, and then losing.

There are certain things that anyone who undertakes a Michigan license appeal should both understand and be able to explain without so much as a second thought. If not, then he or she is pretty much running head-first into a loss. Let’s start with something that’s obvious: Most people are seriously inconvenienced if they’re unable to drive. As one hearing officer says, “everybody needs a license.” As we’ll see, however, needing a license has absolutely nothing to do with being able to win it back after it has been revoked for multiple DUI convictions.

The ONLY thing that matters in Michigan license appeal cases is winning. There is no second-place prize, or participation award for trying hard. The simple fact is that you either get your license back, or not. All the effort in the world is a complete waste unless it results in a winning license appeal. Given the importance of what’s at stake, you need a lawyer who knows how to win. Our firm guarantees that, if we take your case, you WILL win. Let’s examine how we do that, and why anything less simply isn’t good enough.

Winning is all that matters in Michigan License Appeal CasesIn the first, place, we are not a law firm that merely “does” driver’s license restoration cases. My team and I specifically concentrate our practice in them. Each year, we handle about 200 driver’s license restoration related matters. More than 99% of all lawyers will never even see a fraction of that many license appeal cases in a whole career. Our experience is unrivaled in this field. The real basis of our success, though, is that our firm won’t take a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case unless we know we can make it into a winner.

Of course, we’re in business to earn a living. Even so, we won’t take anyone’s money if we’re not confident enough to be able to guarantee that we will win his or her case. That’s huge. We get multiple inquiries every day from people who are willing to hire us. The reality, however, is that some of them aren’t qualified to win for one reason or another. Because we’re honest, and also because we have a guarantee on the line, we have to say no to those cases. That’s how things should work.

Anyone looking for a driver’s license restoration lawyer to handle a Michigan license appeal case needs to be careful. Over the last several years, there has been a flood of lawyers looking to get a piece of this market. Some are crafty, using every possible combination of words like “Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer” as part of their website names. Many are newcomers, though, and make up a segment that I call “McLicense” operations. To be sure, there are a few genuinely good license restoration law firms out there. In this piece, though, we’re going to focus on the danger of hiring a “McLicense lawyer.”

Driver's license restoration lawyers - Beware of the "McLicense" attorneysThe inspiration for this piece came from a very recent case in our office. We had been hired by a person charged with driving on a revoked license. The client’s license had been revoked as a consequence of 2 DUI convictions within 7 years. This individual was eligible, time-wise, to file a driver’s license restoration appeal case. However, under Michigan law, if a person whose license is in “revoked” status is convicted of ANY kind of moving violation, he or she will be revoked all over again. That’s exactly what this person was facing. This is called a “mandatory additional” revocation.  Let me explain why this was so important…

In Michigan, anyone convicted of either 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 within 10 years will have his or her driving privileges revoked for life. That means he or she can NEVER get a license unless and until they file – and win – a formal driver’s license appeal before the Secretary of State. A person convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years cannot file any kind of license appeal for at least 1 year from the date of his or her revocation. If someone is convicted of 3 DUI’s within 10 years, then he or she must wait at least 5 years to file a license appeal case.

To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case, a person must prove certain things (more on that later) by what the law specifies as “clear and convincing evidence.” Translated into baseball terms, this means that one’s proofs must be roughly amount to what is the equivalent of hitting a home run. It’s important to understand this, because anyone undertaking a driver’s license appeal without a clear understanding of what kind of evidence is necessary to win will almost certainly wind up losing.

You must prove your driver's license appeal case by "clear and convincing evidence" to win.Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding in the driver’s license appeal world is that NEEDING to drive plays any role in the process. It does NOT. As we’ll see, “needing” a license has absolutely nothing to do with being to win it back once it has been revoked for multiple DUI convictions. The law sets out very specific criteria that a person must meet in order to regain driving privileges. The focus of this article will be on that “clear and convincing evidence” legal standard, and what it means in the real world.

We’re going to explore all of this in simple, plain-English simple terms. To really get a handle on all this, though, the reader has to understand a few things first. For most people, a driver’s license appeal only becomes necessary after his or her driving privileges have been revoked for multiple DUI’s. That’s key, because under Michigan law, once a person has been convicted of 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 DUI’s within 10 years, he or she become legally categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender.” As a consequence of that, he or she is also PRESUMED to have some kind of alcohol problem.

There is a lot to a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case. The whole process is complex, time-consuming, and can be very demanding. Once in a while, when we’re explaining how it all works, a person will get frustrated and say, “This is bull$hit!” Such feelings are understandable, but they’re not going to help someone get back on the road. Anyone who has lost his or her license for multiple DUI’s has no choice: Either follow the Michigan Secretary of State’s driver’s license restoration rules, or else DON’T get your license back.

Following the driver's license restoration rules is key to winning, not moneyAnother common misnomer is that the license appeal process is some kind of money grab. It’s not. Except for attorney fees and the cost of a substance use evaluation, there is no charge to file a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case. The Michigan Secretary of State makes no money on these cases. The process for Michigan driver’s license restoration is set by law. To win back a revoked driver’s license, a person must follow it precisely.

To be sure, there is a cost for all of the services related to license appeals. Our firm charges legal fess, and there will be more money required for the services rendered by the lab that evaluates the required urine sample. Anyone who lives in Michigan will have to start out with an ignition interlock unit in his or her vehicle, and there is a charge for that, too. Like it or not, this is how things work, and no amount of complaining is going to change it, or otherwise help someone win a license appeal.

If you’re reading this, chances are you (or someone you care about) is looking for information about the Michigan driver’s license restoration process. By now, most people have at least heard about AI (artificial intelligence), and many have heard about how it’s available through services like ChatGPT. Not wanting to be left out, or become a “late-adopter,” I opened a ChatGPT account just to poke around a bit and familiarize myself with this emerging technology. Soon enough, I decided to see how AI would answer a question about restoring driving privileges, so I gave it a try.

Even ChatGPT knows that restoring driving privileges requires proving sobrietyI will reprint both my question and the answer later in this piece. First, however, it’s worth pointing out that while ChatGPT missed some of the more important nuances of the license appeal process, it certainly got the larger “gist” of it. The fact that the AI program picked up on the sobriety requirement is what really inspired this piece, but probably not for the reason that the reader may suspect. Instead, I was troubled by the fact that despite all the time people spend searching online, many seem to miss it.

The main point of every Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal is proving one’s sobriety. Restoring driving privileges has nothing to do with how much anyone may need to drive. Indeed, one hearing officer has often observed that “everybody needs a license.” However, after someone loses it for multiple DUI’s, he or she is legally categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender.” A further legal consequence of that designation is that he or she is presumed to have a drinking problem.

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.

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