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Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

In parts 4 and 5 of this article, we continued our analysis of why it’s more important to accurately understand a person’s relationship to alcohol than it is to label it, having shifted our focus from DUI cases to in parts 1, 2, and 3, to Michigan driver’s license appeal cases in parts 4 and 5. Here, in part 6, we’ll finish this examination, pickup up right where we left off, and continue looking at the imprecise but ongoing use of the term “alcoholic” in license restoration cases, and why that’s important.

lkjl-300x263In the world of driver’s license restoration appeals, the idea that a person may be an alcoholic isn’t fixed in any kind of quest for diagnostic specificity, nor is using it an attempt to label someone as having a problem that’s somehow “worse” than it actually is. In a license reinstatement case, the term “alcoholic” is often used in the broadest sense – to describe someone who knows that he or she has come to a point where they simply can’t drink anymore. That a person understands this is crucial in a Michigan driver’s license restoration case.

Remember, to win a license restoration or clearance appeal, a person must prove 2 things, by what the law defines as clear and convincing evidence: First, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning they haven’t had a drink in a legally sufficient period of time, and second, that his or her alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” which means he or she has both the ability and commitment to never drink again.

In this 5th part of this series, we’re going to continue our examination, from part 4, of how the specific nature of a person’s relationship to alcohol is more important than any label term (like “alcoholic”), within the context of Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration cases. Here, we’re going to flip things around a bit and see how such labels, however obsolete in the clinical setting, still linger in people’s minds, and how that plays a role in the license appeal process.

bbb-300x278In license restoration cases, my team and I see every stage of alcohol problems, from the very mildest to, those who were that kind of last-gasp drinker, to everyone in-between. As I noted before, nobody goes from being a normal drinker one day to a full-blown, dried-up, last gasp drunk the next. The Michigan Secretary of State knows that a troubled relationship to alcohol builds over time. As a result, its primary concern is where a person is with that, both in terms of their past drinking and whether or not he or she truly believes they can’t ever drink again.

As pointed out in part 3, AA people tend to identify as “alcoholic” more than everyone else, and they do that independent of any formal diagnosis. In other words, an AA member that might otherwise merely be characterized as having a “drinking problem,” more than being any kind of “alcoholic,” is still more likely to simply describe him or herself as alcoholic as opposed to someone  who is not in AA. The reason this matters is because, by accepting that label, the person also accepts that he or she cannot ever safely drink again, and knows that, if they do ever pick up again, it’s nothing less than a relapse.

In parts 1, 2, and 3 of this article, we examined how, within the context of a DUI case, a person’s actual relationship to alcohol matters far more than the label slapped upon it. Starting here, in part 4, and continuing in parts 5, and 6, we’re going to survey this same topic, but within the setting of Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals. We’ll see how old thinking, and the use of terms like “alcoholic” can (and does) clash with modern diagnostic terms although they are still used, and to a certain extent, still useful.

man-turning-down-whisky-nnn-300x267It is key, at the outset, to understand that the primary focus of a license appeal is upon a person’s relationship with alcohol – past, present, and future. Specifically, the Michigan Secretary of State requires that a person prove, by what is called clear and convincing evidence, that his or her alcohol problem is both “under control” and “likely to remain under control.” This basically means that anyone filing a license appeal is automatically presumed to have a drinking problem, and must prove that he or she has really given up alcohol for good.

A lot of people come to us after having lost a ”do-it-yourself” license appeal, or after having hired some lawyer who didn’t concentrate in license restoration cases, and then losing. What we see in many of these cases is that the person had never spoken with anyone who really examined and helped him or her understand the nature of their relationship to alcohol, much less helped him or her understand where that falls on the continuum of drinking problems, from none whatsoever, all the way to out of control.

In part 2 about the importance of accurately understanding one’s actual relationship to alcohol in a Michigan DUI case, rather than that just labeling it, I noted that it has been repeatedly demonstrated that, as a group, DUI drivers do have a statistically higher rate of drinking problems than the population at large. I then pointed out that this is not forgotten when a person undergoes the mandatory alcohol assessment and probation interview required as part of all DUI cases.

piophiuhb-300x294Remember, precisely because of the higher rate of drinking problems among DUI drivers, compared to the rest of society, everyone walking into court for a DUI is considered part of an “at risk” group, and proper preparation for the mandatory alcohol assessment and probation interview must take that into account. The very fact that a person has gotten a DUI is enough for just about every court, in just about every case, to see the person as at least a little bit risky, and therefore require him or her to at least complete some kind of alcohol education class, classes, or program.

If, as a result of that assessment and interview, a person is thought to be anything more than a minimum risk to either have, or to develop a drinking problem, then he or she will be almost certainly be required to complete some kind of counseling program in addition to, or instead of, a simple alcohol education program. With the kind of tests used by the courts, it is much easier to “score” a person as either having a drinking problem (or not), than it is to conclude he or she has an increased potential for one to develop. That’s where the risk really lies for anyone going through a drunk driving case.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking, within the context of a Michigan DUI case, at the importance of accurately assessing a person’s relationship with alcohol. I noted that getting an accurate picture of someone’s drinking is far more important than attaching any kind of label (like “alcoholic”) to it. We saw that, ultimately, it’s not how much a person drinks that matters, but rather what can happen when he or she does drink. In this second installment, we’ll continue looking at how this actually plays out in DUI cases, particularly in 1st offense DUI cases.

image-asset-300x245As I noted in part 1, there is merit – with caution – in the saying that “anything that causes a problem IS a problem,” particularly when it comes to drinking. If a person who has been drinking more than they should winds up getting a DUI, it usually doesn’t come as much of a surprise. However, it’s important to remember that there are also plenty of people who wind up getting a DUI simply because they made a mistake in judgment one night, and not because they have any kind of underlying drinking problem.

We basically characterized this as the difference between a one-time accident versus a likely consequence of ongoing, troublesome behavior. We then noted that drinking problems almost always begin unnoticed, and that the initial signs are easily overlooked. When things like hangovers start to become more than just a “fluke” occurrence, people are able to easily compensate for them. These “inconveniences,” small at first, are the first real signs of problematic drinking.

As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we deal with alcohol, drinking, and the consequences caused by it every single day. In this article, I want to examine how a person’s true relationship to alcohol matters far more than any label about it, like the vague concept of an “alcoholic.” We’ll examine this in 6 parts: in this first and then the 2nd and 3rd installments, we’ll look at it in the context of DUI cases, and then, in the 4th,  5th  and 6th parts, within the framework of driver’s license restoration appeals.

lkjoh-272x300As DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, the daily experience we have with alcohol issues is broad and extensive: on the one hand, a DUI case can involve nothing more than an otherwise normal drinker having overindulged on a single occasion. On the other hand, we may have a driver’s license restoration client who has finally gotten sober after a decades of heavy drinking that has resulted in liver damage and multiple DUI’s. As lawyers – and because we neither punish nor treat people – they are usually willing to open up to us more than with just about anyone else. As a result, we have heard and seen it all over the years.

One thing we often hear from DUI clients, especially those who are repeat offenders or who have really high BAC results, is a concern that the court is “going think I’m an alcoholic,” or an outright statement that “I’m not an alcoholic!” In the bigger picture of life, it couldn’t matter less whether a person meets some fuzzy definition of “alcoholic” or not. Instead, what really matters is whether or not his or her drinking has begun to cause problems. As the saying goes, “anything that causes a problem IS a problem.”

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we hear a lot of the same things over and over again, like how badly people need a license, or how they haven’t been in trouble for a long time. In this article, I want to explain why merely staying out of trouble is far from enough to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal, specifically because the main focus in these cases is on a person’s relationship to alcohol (and drugs), both past and present. We’ll examine this in detail, below the short video from the “2 Minute Legal” playlist of my Youtube channel:

The key to winning a license appeal is proving that you have been alcohol and drug-free for a legally “sufficient” period of time, and are a safe bet to never drink or use drugs again. To put this another way, the state’s first and primary concern about anyone who files a license appeal is that there has been a long enough period of time since his or her last drink (and/or last drug use), and that the person has the ability and commitment to remain alcohol (and drug) free for life. Not having been in any kind of legal trouble is completely irrelevant to that.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we have to correct a lot of misconceptions people have about the license appeal process. In the previous article, we saw how being legally eligible to file a license reinstatement case doesn’t translate to actually being able to win it. In this article, we’ll look at the broader concept of “misinformation,” some of which comes from people in AA. While it is a great recovery program,  some of the things said there are wildly inaccurate, particularly with respect to license appeals.

bababa-300x243Let’s begin with AA in general: some people think that you need to be in AA to win a driver’s license restoration of clearance appeal. That’s 100% dead wrong. You do not need to be in AA to win license appeal case. My team and I guarantee to win every case we take, and most of our clients are NOT in AA. Unfortunately, there are even some lawyers who push this kind of misinformation. Of course, even having gone to a few meetings in the past can be helpful, but it’s rarely necessary.

Recently, we were retained to handle an ignition interlock violation by an existing client for whom we had previously won a restricted license. He is active in AA. As we were gathering information about his violation, he told us that a fellow AA member had told him that when he (the fellow AA member) went for a violation hearing, he was also granted his full license on the spot. This person told our client he should ask for the same. Of course, we had to tell our client that it doesn’t work that way, and then explain why.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, one of the most common misunderstandings we encounter is a person who thinks being legally eligible to file a license appeal is all they need to go ahead and win their license back. This short article will explain why being legally eligible to file a license restoration or clearance appeal is only a starting point, and is not, in and of itself, enough to actually win a license restoration or clearance case.

AAaaa-300x240For all the explanation necessary to clarify this, the fault really lies within the law itself. As written, the Michigan Secretary of State’s rules allow a person to file a license appeal after either a 1 or 5 year revocation. A revocation is either for 1 year, after 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or for 5 years, after 3 DUI’s within 10 years. The rules also require a minimum of 1 year of abstinence from alcohol (and/or drugs), and allow the hearing officer to require an even longer period of “clean time” before issuing a license.

In the real world, NOBODY can win a license appeal with only 1 year of sobriety. In fact, only an exceptional and rare candidate that has any chance of winning a driver’s license reinstatement case with less than 2 years of demonstrable voluntary abstinence from alcohol. This truth is essentially left out of the written rules, and that omission works against anyone who doesn’t know better and plows ahead by filing a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal too soon.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at the 3 questions anyone should consider as he or she looks for a lawyer for a Michigan criminal, DUI or driver’s license restoration case. After we went over a few preliminary considerations like not getting the “hard sell” from some lawyer’s office, we began examining the first of 3 sub-questions from the larger inquiry, “why should I hire you?” and saw why it’s important to find a lawyer whose practice concentrates in the same field as a person’s case.


Having covered those things, we can turn to the second sub-question anyone looking for a lawyer should have about an attorney or law firm: How available do make useful information relevant to my specific concerns?

I’ve already mentioned this blog as a resource, and while I am proud of it (and think it’s the best out there by far!), there is lots of other information out there, as well. Find it, and see what other lawyers have written and then put up about your kind of case. Reading articles is about the easiest and most anonymous way to at least get some preliminary information about a situation, but a person must also make sure that the information provided is both accurate and reliable.

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