Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, you must first be genuinely sober, and then you have to prove it within the Secretary of State’s governing rules. For as complex as the appeal process can be, winning your license back really boils down to those 2 things. These are not separate requirements. Instead, proving that you’re sober is first dependent upon actually being sober. The proofs required to win your license back go directly to whether or not a person has genuinely quit drinking, and then taken the necessary actions to remain permanently alcohol free.

dl2-275x300Perhaps the biggest mistake people make is thinking they can just say the right things to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. While a person must really be sober and present evidence to support his or her claims, the whole point of the legal process is for the Michigan Secretary of State to verify if they are true, or not. The hearing officers who decide these cases know that people will try every trick in the book, and they expect to hear everything, all the way from gentle BS to outright fabrications. An important part of the hearing officer’s job is to put everything a person submits, both in his or her documents and through testimony, to the test.

This is where we can really see the inherent connection between actually being sober and proving it. You simply can’t prove the existence of something that is not true. In practice, that doesn’t stop loads of people from trying to convince the hearing officer that they’ve quit drinking, but as noted above, those hearing officers come in each day, expecting people to try and feed them a line of BS. Over time, the hearing officers develop a keen expertise for being able to distinguish real sobriety from anything less.

In our work as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers who handle over 200 license matters per year, we deal with a LOT of ignition interlock violation issues. This article has one simple goal: to make clear that anyone who tests positive for alcohol should IMMEDIATELY go and get a PBT test, or, if more than an hour has passed, then get an EtG urine test. The inspiration for it came about as the result of a recent conversation with one of my associate lawyers about common interlock problems that we see almost daily.

PBT4-291x300This isn’t going to be a “hit piece” on the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), but the simple fact is that the SOS fails to make crystal clear what a person is expected to after a positive test result. To be sure, some guidance is provided: Within every order granting a driver’s license restoration appeal is a section called “Proper Interlock Use,” but as we’ll see, the Secretary of State could be a lot more specific, especially in light of what the hearing officers look for when they are deciding an ignition interlock violation case, or even when reviewing a final report for someone who has filed an appeal for a full license.

This applies to anyone on an interlock who blows into his or her BAIID and gets a positive result. Instead of its supposed “guidance,” the Secretary of State should provide clear and direct instructions. In light of that omission, here is what you need to know: If you EVER provide a positive breath sample, you should immediately go to the nearest police station, sheriff’s department, or state police post and get a PBT (portable breath test). As we’ll see, there are other things you can do, but there is NOTHING that’s as good as getting a timely PBT test, and “timely,” as used here, means right away, not an hour or more later.

In part 1 of this article, we started answering the question “When is the soonest a person whose license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s can file – and win – a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal case?” We began by noting that these revocations are for life, meaning that they will remain in place unless and until a person files – and wins – a formal license appeal. We also clarified that anyone whose license was revoked for 2 DUI’s within 7 years, a person can file an appeal after 1 year, while anyone who racks up 3 DUI’s within 10 years can do so after 5 years.

XXXX-300x296Understanding how this actually works requires knowing what the Michigan Secretary of State means when it notifies a person that he or she is revoked “for life.” Even though someone can file a license appeal after either 1 or 5 years, he or she must accumulate enough voluntary sobriety time in order to actually win it. This is easier to explain by pointing what it’s not: Any time a person was abstinent, but also either in jail or prison, or was on probation or parole, is NOT considered purely voluntary, because he or she either could not obtain alcohol (like while in jail) or was under orders not to consume any, like while on probation.

It’s right here that a lot of people will jump in (and practically start jumping up and down) and try to explain that even though they had been required, in some way or other, to abstain from alcohol, they had already made the decision to quit drinking, so their clean time really was a matter of choice.

In our capacity as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we get a ton of calls and emails from people who tell us how much they need their license back ASAP. We never doubt how important it is for anyone to be able to drive again, but that need has nothing to do with actually being able to win a restoration case sooner, rather than later. In this article, we’re going look at when, as in how soon, a person can file a license appeal and actually win back his or her driving privileges. To keep things manageable, we’re going to divide our discussion into 2 installments.

vectorstock_19875534-300x300By law, a person who has been revoked for 2 DUI’s within 7 years becomes legally eligible to file an appeal is 1 year after the start of his or her revocation. In reality, however, that’s way too early to have any chance at winning. Our firm generally requires someone to have been completely abstinent from alcohol (and drugs, including recreational marijuana) for AT LEAST 18 months before we’ll ever consider filing a case, in part, because he or she must prove what is called “voluntary abstinence.” Despite its critical importance, this is one of the least understood and most overlooked elements of license appeals.

It would certainly help if the Michigan Secretary of State either edited its rules to clarify what is required to win a license appeal case, or, in some way, at least explained what we’re about to go over in the following paragraphs. Under Michigan law, a person convicted of multiple DUI’s (either 2 within 7 years, or 3 within 5 years) will have his or her license revoked for life. This does not mean that they can never get it back, but rather that it won’t be returned unless and until he or she files – and wins – a formal driver’s license restoration appeal.

My team and I succeed as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers because we use our comprehensive knowledge of the law and rules regarding license appeals. When filed, each case is randomly assigned to and ultimately decided by 1 of 9 hearing officers from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight (OHAO), each of whom, at least to some extent, interprets and applies those rules in his or her own way.

J2-300x287Accordingly, when we prepare a case, we have to make sure that it will satisfy each and every one of them, and that requires managing a lot of little details. It also means that we need to know, among the 9 hearing officers, who likes what, and the kinds of things that will work with one, but not with another. If a lawyer (or someone trying a license appeal on their own) can’t look at the evidence in a case before it’s filed and think, “This isn’t going to cut it with hearing officer so-and-so,” then he or she is basically flying blind, and is essentially leaving the outcome of his or her case to chance.

Chance isn’t good; anyone who has had his or her license revoked for 2 or more DUI’s certainly isn’t on any kind of “roll,” and needs a winning strategy to get it back, rather than just hoping for a lucky shot in the dark. To be clear, though, any such strategy needs to be built upon a foundation of genuine sobriety. Our firm guarantees to win every restoration and clearance appeal case we take, but underlying that is the the fact that we carefully screen every potential client to make sure they really have quit drinking, and otherwise possess what it takes in order for us to make his or her case into a winner.

In part 1 of this article, we began with the question, “What does it mean to be a real Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer?” To answer that, we began with a necessary detour into how being a Michigan DUI lawyer is helpful, and why a thorough knowledge of recovery is helpful in both fields. Understanding how substance abuse problems, and, particularly, how alcohol problems develop, are diagnosed, and ultimately treated, is foundational to a full understanding of recovery. That’s important because proving sobriety is the key requirement in every license appeal case.

2-300x289Understanding the law is important, as is understanding recovery from a clinical perspective, but what’s more important is to put those things together so that, as driver’s license restoration lawyers, we can actually make the proofs necessary to win our cases. Our firm guarantees to win every restoration and clearance appeal case we take. That’s great for the client, as it eliminates any risk, but it also provides a huge benefit for us, because it obligates us to stick with every case we take, and, in that way, provides a clear disincentive for us to take on any appeal that we can’t make into a winner.

Even though someone is willing to hire us, we will only take his or her case when we are willing to guarantee a successful result. This is a critical element that separates a really good driver’s license restoration lawyer from everyone else – the strength to say “no.” It can be hard to turn away someone who is willing to pay for a license appeal, but we never lose sight of the fact that if we weren’t so rigid in our screenings and standards, we’d get stuck with doing a lot of “warranty” work and re-doing cases we should have never taken in the first place, all over again, for free.

What does it mean to be a real Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer? It’s likely that anyone reading this has been searching for information about driver’s license restoration, and has come across endless attorney sites hawking their services. What one hopes to find, of course, is helpful and useful information from a reliable source, and that’s what my team and I provide. We describe ourselves as “driver’s license restoration lawyers,” and as a “Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm,” because that’s exactly who and what we are.

Memer2-300x286To be a real “driver’s license restoration lawyer,” license appeal cases must be a primary focus of an attorney’s practice – as they are with our firm. We specifically concentrate in DUI and driver’s license restoration and clearance cases. Our practice is like a “Q-tip,” with DUI’s on one end, license restorations on the other, with alcohol as the “stick” that connects them together. Almost all driver’s license restoration appeals follow from DUI cases, and underlying each is a person’s overall relationship to alcohol: DUI cases are all about drinking – and license appeal cases about not drinking.

Most people know that drunk driving is a criminal offense. Therefore, a DUI case is a criminal case, although it is a special kind of criminal case. In a very real way, all DUI lawyers are criminal lawyers, but not all criminal lawyers are DUI lawyers. There are plenty of lawyers who have a more general criminal practice, and will take most or all criminal cases that comes their way. If one steps up the legal ladder a bit, then he or she can find lawyers who concentrate their practices in specific areas of criminal law, like DUI cases, sex crimes, or white collar offenses.

A lot of people mistakenly believe that a person can successfully fight a Michigan ignition interlock violation, and then also win back his or her full license at the same time. Unfortunately, that’s dead wrong, and not how driver’s license restoration cases work. In this article, we’re going to look at why that can’t happen, and why a person must first fight win any pending ignition interlock (BAIID) violation before he or she can ask for, much less win back driving privileges.

Chick3-300x281First, let’s clarify that the focus of this piece will only be upon people who have lost their drivers’ license for multiple DUI convictions and who must either file (and win), or who have already have filed and won a restoration appeal before the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight (OHAO). Our inquiry will NOT apply to anyone who is on a restricted license issued by a Sobriety Court,  or who must use an interlock as the result of a conviction for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) with a BAC of .17 or more, an offense commonly called “High BAC.”

Anyone who wins a formal driver’s license restoration appeal will get a restricted license will issue requiring him or her to use an interlock device. When that happens, the person’s revocation is essentially “taken back,” meaning that the status of being revoked is changed, and restricted driving privileges are issued. This is important, and the fine points of the words used here really matter, because, as we’ll see shortly, if a person violates while on the interlock, his or her license status of “revoked” is reinstated.

In part 1 of this article, we began looking at how and why so many people who go through the court process for a DUI case are not properly – and one could even say – not even reasonably informed about what is going to happen to their driver’s license. Because responsibility for imposing DUI driver’s license penalties rests entirely with the Michigan Secretary of State, the court has no real reason to understand how things work, and this, in turn, leaves a lot of people uniformed.

Judge-2-2-300x281In other words, because it’s not directly relevant to the court’s role in handling a DUI case, nobody in the system explains to a person how a 2nd or 3rd offense DUI conviction is going to affect his or her ability to win back driving privileges down the road. In other words, a person will go through a DUI case and never be told by anyone in the court system that, when the time comes, he or she is going to have to show the Secretary of State what they’ve done to recover from the alcohol problem that the law presumes they have. Instead, explaining how all of this works falls to me and my team.

To be sure, this is all part of the work we have chosen to do as Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, but it still sucks that some people are moved through the court system without being informed about the driver’s license sanctions that will follow a DUI conviction. No matter what, anyone going through the DUI court process really should be provided with a clear explanation of what’s going to happen with their license, and when and how they’ll be able to get it reinstated, or, in the case of those with prior DUI convictions, file a appeal to have it restored.

Every single day, in our work as Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I get a first-hand view of the interaction between DUI penalties and license reinstatement issues. One thing we see all the time is that many people go through the whole DUI court process without any real understanding of the driver’s license consequences, and are then surprised at what happens later on. This is most apparent when a person comes to us for a driver’s license restoration appeal after having had his or her license revoked for multiple DUI convictions.

LadyJudge2-300x274Often, they’re frustrated to learn about the Michigan Secretary of State’s rather demanding requirements for restoration, because nobody had ever thoroughly explained it to them at the time their DUI case was going through court. Although it won’t make things easier for anyone who has to deal with a driver’s license suspension or revocation, the fact is that the courts really have nothing to do with what happens to a person’s driving privileges, and therefore have no practical reason to fully understand how, why, or even when the Secretary of State does things.

Of course, without a solid understanding of how the Secretary of State’s license sanctions work, the courts are in no position to explain them, either. We won’t bother with a trip down memory lane, but it is important to note that, in the past, the imposition of license sanctions in a DUI case was entirely handled by the Judge. That changed in 1998, when Michigan’s drunk driving laws underwent a major overhaul, and the Secretary of State was put in charge of every aspect of DUI driver’s license penalties.

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