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Driver’s License Restoration and Clearance cases are well-suited to start over the phone, and the “down time” many people have now is a good opportunity to begin this process.

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Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

In part 1 of this article, we began our discussion of how to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case by looking at 2 of the biggest things that will cause it to lose: that a person still drinks alcohol, or that he or she even thinks they can ever drink again. As I pointed out, the key to winning a license appeal is proving that you have have been alcohol-free for a “sufficient” period of time, and that you are a safe bet to never drink again.

3-300x217In many of my other articles, I examine the fundamental change in a person’s thinking when he or she gets sober. The takeaway from them is that when a person finally does see his or her drinking as a problem, realizes the only way forward is to quit for good, and then does just that, everything about his or her life changes. These changes are profound, and really become the foundation upon which sobriety is built.

In other words, being “sober” is not about laying off the drinking for a while, or cutting back, or even just stopping without a firm belief that one can never pick up again. Rather, it’s about really believing that one’s own drinking has gotten out of hand, and accepting that it’s time to quit for life. Nobody quits drinking because it’s working out so well. By the time a person finally decides to give up alcohol, it had usually stopped being fun a long time ago.

This article about Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals will examine 2 things that will completely derail a case. Instead of focusing on what it takes to win a driver’s license restoration case, we’ll see at how these issues will cause it to lose. By flipping the usual “here’s what you need” analysis on its head, we’ll clarify what it really takes to succeed in a license appeal. In other words, we’ll get a better idea of what works, by looking at what doesn’t.

unnamed-4-300x224In order to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance case, a person must prove 2 things: first, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that he or she has been completely alcohol-free for a “sufficient” period of time (usually no less than 18 months, but longer is better). Second, he or she must prove that their alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” meaning that he or she has both the ability and commitment to never drink again.

That’s a big deal, but it boils down to this simple proposition: the Michigan Secretary of State has decided that anyone who has had their license revoked for multiple DUI’s will not be allowed to drive again unless they have given up drinking for good. People who don’t drink are zero risk to drive drunk (again), and the line in the sand has been drawn there. The hard truth is that if you drink, or even think you can ever drink again, you’re not going to get your license back.

As Michigan criminal and DUI lawyers, we spend a lot of time in court. Or at least we used to: that changed with the Coronavirus, and courts have been largely shut down since. As of this writing, Michigan courts are adapting their way to being able to handle regular criminal matters again. In the weeks following the state’s shutdown, only “emergency” matters, meaning things like arraignments, bond (bail) issues, and certain probation violation matters, were being heard. That’s about to change.

Picture1-300x212We really don’t know when things will fully get back to normal, or, for that matter, what that new “normal” will look like. We do know, however, that the way cases are handled is going to be different after this, both in the long and short-term. Even walking into court is going to give some people pause as soon as they approach a door handle and have to touch it, or, once inside, have to use a “public” pen to sign a document.

As lawyers who do a lot of our work in courtrooms, a regular part of our jobs involves turning and whispering instructions or otherwise explaining things to our clients, while standing before a Judge. How is that going to play out when cases are heard live again? Of course, the bigger question is, when will cases ever be heard live again? The immediate plan is to use as videoconferencing as possible, but may very well lead to some permanent changes, as well.

If you have an ignition interlock in your vehicle, the coronavirus situation has really ramped up the possibility of getting a positive-for-alcohol violation from using hand sanitizer. My office has recently seen an explosion of positive tests because people have used some kind of alcohol-based hand wash too soon before blowing into their interlock unit. This article will focus on a very real and growing problem that’s doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon.

wqe-300x246It’s very important to realize that this is a fluid and evolving situation, and things are changing by the day. The Secretary of States’ interlock instructions, written years ago, advise against using ANY kind of hand sanitizer before starting or while operating the vehicle. Now, with the coronavirus situation, people are finding that it’s very hard to go shopping, even with gloves, and then get into their cars without feeling contaminated, so just about everyone is doing some hand-sanitizing before going anywhere.

Unfortunately, some people on the interlock don’t go anywhere at all, because they have a startup failure (this happens when the test result is .25 of higher). A vehicle will start if the positive result is under .25, but it still registers. While I agree that it’s bull$hit if a person gets violated for or otherwise has to explain this later, given the current conditions, as the saying goes, “is what it is.”

In part 1 of this article, we began examining how a charge for driving on a revoked license (DWLR) is worse than one for driving on a suspended license (DWLS), even though they’re both covered by the same provision of law and carry identical criminal penalties in court. I noted that that there are 2 kinds of people who have lost their license: those who have it taken away for a DUI, and everyone else, and that it’s always best to be part of the everyone else group.

unnamed-3-300x214In this second part of the article, we’re going to turn our attention to why a DWLR charge is worse than a DWLS charge, both in the courtroom, and, even more important, in the context of being able to get one’s license back later. As we’ll see, a revoked license charge can be a complete deal-killer for a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, and will render a person completely ineligible to even file an appeal for either another 1 or 5 years.

In the world of criminal cases, having to face a suspended license charge is never a good thing, but having to contend with a revoked license charge (DWLR) is a whole different level of “worse.” When a driver’s license is revoked, it’s almost always because the person has racked up multiple DUI’s. As much as a single DUI can just “happen,” absolutely nobody in the court system thinks very charitably about a person with 2 or more drunk driving convictions.

This article will focus on the actual negative consequences of getting caught driving on a revoked license, and how that can hurt a person’s ability to win back his or her license later. The Michigan Secretary of State administrative penalties for driving on a revoked license (DWLR) are much more serious than for driving on a suspended license (DWLS), and they can kill any chance of a person filing, much less winning, a future driver’s license restoration appeal.

hqdefault-1-XX-y2-300x215Unfortunately, my team and I have seen plenty of cases where a police officer has written a citation for “DWLS,” even though the person’s license was revoked at the time of the offense. It’s important to make clear that it doesn’t matter what’s written on the citation. Instead, what ultimately happens to a person will be based entirely upon whether his or her license was either suspended, or revoked, at the time of the incident.

Instead of wasting time examining the endless possible situations that rarely occur, we’ll center our discussion here on the most common, real-world situation people face when they start searching this stuff online. Accordingly, while some of what we cover here applies to both DWLS and DWLR cases, our focus will be on those situations where a person gets caught driving after his or her license has been revoked as a result of multiple DUI’s.

Understanding recovery is the key to winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, as well as proving the 2 key legal issues underlying every appeal: First, that your alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that you have been alcohol-free for a legally sufficient period of time, and, second, that your alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” which means that you have the ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free (i.e., sober) for life.

2073657-1564146951999-29c1b8611d052-300x251Everyone who has given up drinking (and/or using drugs) understands, through hard-won experience, what recovery is all about. Although it sounds like a cliche, the truth is that it really is as much a journey as it is a destination. In order for a lawyer to really be able to prove these issues, and, in the case of our practice, guarantee to win every case we take, a comprehensive and fundamental understanding of recovery is necessary, and I’m not just talking “book knowledge,” either.

In addition to knowing about addiction and recovery from the inside-out, the outside-in, and having spent 30 years dealing with a largely addicted and recovering client base, I have also completed a formal, post-graduate program of addiction studies. My clinical and real world experience means that I know, at the gut-level, about the development, diagnosis, treatment and recovery from alcohol, drug and other addiction issues better than any lawyer I’ve ever heard about.

For all the things we do as Michigan criminal, DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, our practice, like the practice of any good lawyer or law firm, is every bit as much defined by the kinds of cases we don’t handle as those we do. There’s an old saying that “you can’t be all things to all people,” but too often, this is ignored, especially by attorneys who offer a range of services that is simply too broad.

tumblr_ly5jviSHY71r0lzjao1_400-300x230This applies to general field of “criminal law,” as well, with some “criminal lawyers” offering to handle every kind of charge, from driving with a suspended license (DWLS) cases, to rape and murder charges, all the way to post-conviction appeals. In the real world, the best lawyer to handle the appeal of a murder conviction is almost certainly not the best lawyer to have tried the underlying murder case itself, and he or she, in turn, wold be the wrong person to hire for a DUI case.

Better lawyers limit what they do in order to be excellent at a few things, rather than mediocre at many. This is exactly why construction companies use carpenters, electricians, and plumbers on their jobs, rather hiring a few “jack-of-all trades” handyman types to do the same work. Likewise, even though they’re both “surgeons,” it’s an orthopedic surgeon, rather than a cardiac surgeon, that does hip replacements.

When it comes to driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, the money you hand over to a lawyer should buy you a winning result, and not just pay for services that may or may not be successful. My team and I guarantee to win every first time license appeal we file precisely because, when we take a case, we carefully manage every single part of it at every stage along the way.

Win4-300x219I referenced this in a recent article about how we control everything that happens in an out-of-state clearance case. In this piece, I want to tie that into to how it culminates in our first time win guarantee for both in-state restoration and clearance cases. Sometimes, we are contacted by someone who has already started a license appeal, and then decides to reach out for help. How we handle those inquires helps explain things.

Our reply in such situations is always the same: we won’t step in and do repairs to someone else’s work. Although it’s not meant in a snobbish way, the bottom line is that we don’t find anyone’s work (including any other lawyer’s) up to our standards, and certainly not enough so for us to take over, finish up, and still guarantee the result. If we ever do take on a case that’s already in progress, we scrap everything that’s been done and start over from scratch.

In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration attorneys who guarantee to win every first time license appeal and clearance case we take, we do, quite literally, hear it all. It is an everyday thing for us to hear how much someone has changed since they gave up drinking, and that they’re now ready to move forward in life and drive again. In much the same way that getting sober is the first thing a person must do to have any chance of winning a driver’s license appeal, actually starting the process to get it back is often the last step in that journey.

servicespuzzle-300x260-300x260I cannot say this enough: the whole point of a Michigan driver’s license reinstatement appeal is to prove to the Michigan Secretary of State that you have given up drinking for good. This requires showing 2 things: first, that you have been completely abstinent from alcohol for a “sufficient” period of time (in my office, we generally want our clients to have a minimum of 18 months of sobriety) and second, that you have the commitment and ability to never drink again. Key to this is that you’ve gotten sober for yourself, not just to get your license back.

It is a huge thing when someone quits drinking because they’ve finally “had enough.” From that point forward, everything about their life changes, and all for the better. This is what recovery and sobriety is all about. The simple fact is that a person cannot really get sober for anyone else or for any reason other than wanting it for themselves. When a person gets sick and tired of all the problems caused by drinking and then finally makes the decision to give it up completely, there is often a lot of repair work to be done in their lives. It’s normal for many of their close relationships to have been damaged (if not broken) because of alcohol.

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