Articles Posted in Driver’s License Restoration

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vectorstock_19875534-300x300By law, a person who has been revoked for 2 DUI’s within 7 years becomes legally eligible to file an appeal is 1 year after the start of his or her revocation.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.

In part 1 of this article, we began examining the absolutely critical and foundational role of the substance use evaluation (SUE) in Michigan driver’s license restoration and clearance cases. We acknowledged the importance of regular communication between the lawyer and the evaluator with the goal of making sure the evaluation contains all of the information needed about the client, as even the smallest omission in the evaluation can be fatal to a case. Ultimately, though, the responsibility for ensuring the evaluation is good enough rests entirely with the lawyer.

EGFP2-300x266Although my team and I rarely lose any of our cases (remember, we have a published guarantee to win every restoration and clearance appeal case we accept), if, by some chance, we don’t win the first time, we will share that with our evaluator in order to further her knowledge, even if the loss had nothing to do with the evaluation itself. While it’s great to know how to win, this kind of exchange helps the evaluator to understand what can cause a case to lose, as well. For my team and I, communication with out evaluator is a busy 2-way street.

Although this level of dialogue is really basic to a successful lawyer-evaluator relationship, we don’t think it’s anything special. Instead, we find that regular, frequent interaction with the evaluator about license appeal case and license appeal clients is a minimum requirement to maintain that kind of working arrangement. The idea of NOT working closely with an evaluator and providing regular feedback is crazy. An evaluator, just like everyone else, needs to know what they’re doing correctly, and what they can do to improve.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I handle well over 200 driver’s license appeal matters every year. The substance use evaluation (often mistakenly called a “substance abuse evaluation”) is a required part of every restoration and clearance case, and having literally worked with thousands of them, we know what makes an evaluation good, and what kind of information it should (and should not) contain. In this article, we’ll look at the absolutely critical role of the substance use evaluation (SUE) in license appeal cases.

Eval-2-300x285A lot of people who ultimately hire us do so after having either lost a “do-it-yourself” appeal, or after having lost with some lawyer who didn’t specifically concentrate in this area of the law, like our firm does. We guarantee to win every case we take, but in order to do that, we also make sure that we only accept cases that can be made into winners. Accordingly, one of the first things we do when anyone calls us after having previously lost is to carefully screen him or her, and, if his or her case seems promising, then obtain and review the Secretary of State’s order denying their case.

Very often, those orders cite the evaluation that was filed as a key reason for the losing decision. The simple fact is that a good evaluation is necessary in order to win To be sure, there is a lot that goes into a proper SUE. Among other things, it must always be accurate, complete, favorable, and, of course, legally sufficient. It’s basically a requirement that the evaluator not only has experience doing them for driver’s license appeal cases, but has also worked closely with driver’s license restoration lawyers in order to know exactly what to include within the document.

The single most important thing needed in every Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case is sobriety. However, merely being sober isn’t enough, because in order to win a license appeal, a person must also be able to prove his or her sobriety as required by the Michigan Secretary of State. This is really important for anyone looking to get his or her driver’s license back, because it means that, absent adequate proof of sobriety, he or she cannot succeed, no matter how much they may “need” a license, or how much money they are willing to spend. another way, a person can’t just “buy” a license. In Michigan, the restoration of driving privileges is earned. A lot of people mistakenly think that not having been in any trouble for a long time, or not having had a license for many years is important. To be clear, none of those things matter at all. The only thing that will win a license appeal is proof that a person has quit drinking – meaning that he or she has been completely alcohol-free for a legally sufficient period of time – and that he or she has the ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free for life, meaning permanently.

This blog, which, as of this writing, has over 625 highly detailed and informational articles specifically about the Michigan driver’s license appeal process, is updated with 2 new installments weekly. In that sense, more than having written the book about license appeals, I’ve managed to fill a whole library. By looking around here, the reader will find far more information about driver’s license restoration and clearance cases than can be found any and everywhere else combined. Because sobriety is so critical to a license appeal, though, this topic has to be brought up regularly, and is the subject of more of those articles than anything else.

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