It has been a while since I have written about our guarantee to win every initial driver’s license and clearance case we take. Therefore, It is a good time to bring the topic back for what I hope will be a somewhat refreshed discussion about it. The fact that my team and I provide this guarantee means anyone we represent for a license restoration or clearance appeal does not have to worry about risking his or her money to “try” and win back their driving privileges. Instead, you will only pay us once to win your license back.
As reassuring as that sounds, the simple fact is we really make our money winning these cases the first time around. As much as our guarantee matters, my team and I basically count on NOT having to do any case a second time. This is our business model. In order to make that happen, we have to be careful in our case screenings and make sure we don’t take every case that comes our way. In order to provide our guarantee, we have to turn away plenty of people who are more than willing to pay our fee, but are not otherwise eligible and qualified to win.
This means that our guarantee serves to both protect the clients, while also protecting us from making a bad decision in taking a case that can not be made into a sure winner. Of course, there are plenty of people who, while they’re nowhere near being able to win a license appeal at a given moment, do have the necessary “ingredients” from which we can make a successful case; they just need to have things properly “worked over.” This is our specialty, and we do it day-in and day out.
Now, for as great as all of this sounds, nothing in life is perfect. One area where our guarantee isn’t so cut and dry is when it comes to people who, while genuinely sober, don’t have a lot of abstinence (sober time) to their credit. In a recent article, I noted that I won’t touch a license appeal where my client won’t have at least 18 months of sobriety by the time we go in for a hearing, and that, truth be told, I rather have 2 years (24 months) by then.
Ultimately, we have to make a decision in cases where a person does not have a lot of sober time as to when we can file. Of course, it would be easy to just wait a long time, but an important part of our role is to balance a person’s desire to drive against the risk of jumping into a license appeal too soon, and losing. Thus, in some cases, we elect to wait longer to move forward, while in others, we can get going much earlier. In most of these cases, a certain kind of calculation is involved. Let me explain:
Assume, for example, that Sober Sam has 16 months of sobriety to his credit. We figure by the time his case is filed and he appears for a hearing, he will have around 18 or 19 months.
We could wait another 6 months, until he will have about 2 years, at which time his chances could (and probably would) look at least a little better. More sobriety is always better than less. The question we have to answer is whether Sam is good enough to go right now, or, does the idea of even looking a little better seem to make a significant difference.
We also have to assess the length of Sam’s sobriety coupled with the kind of support he has. If Sam is all about recovery, and he lives with a non-drinker, that’s a lot better than if he lives in a house with 2 other roommates who don’t have a clue about his sobriety.
If we do file right away, and it turns out that the hearing officer denies Sam’s appeal because he or she wants a longer period of abstinence than the 18 or 19 months, then poor Sam will have to wait another whole year to try again.
What we have to weigh is whether the difference between 18 months and 2 years is likely to be the determining factor in Sam winning or losing, and that decision is based upon a lot of factors, including the person’s DUI record, clinical (substance use) diagnosis, treatment history, lifestyle changes and overall support for sobriety.
Our guarantee means that we’ll work darn hard to make the best decision about filing as soon as we can, while making sure that we don’t rush head-first into a loss. It also means that our clients never have to fear risking the money they pay, because, whatever else, our guarantee means we’ll get them back on the road, and we’ll do that as soon as possible.
Ultimately, we need to decide whether we are better off trying now, with 18 months of sobriety, and even if we do lose, are able to come back and file another appeal with the Michigan Secretary of State again in a year, so that Sam will be driving 6 months sooner than if we waited for him to hit the 2-year mark with his sobriety and then filed, only for him to lose anyway. There are many factors to consider in these cases. But we got you covered.
One of the more frustrating things we see, as full-time driver’s license restoration lawyers, is the mistaken notion that a person must be in AA (or at least something like it) to win a restoration or clearance appeal.
Let me be perfectly clear on this point: nothing could be farther from the truth.
The vast majority of our clients, all of whom win their license or clearance appeals, are NOT in AA (or anything like it) when we take their cases. Due, in no small part, to my clinical background (I completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies), I have a comprehensive understanding of recovery and of the many recovery processes by which people get clean and sober.
The simple fact is that people get (and stay) clean and sober in all kinds of different ways, and AA is just one of them.
There is a general misnomer, even among lawyers, that AA is the only (or at least the best) way to get sober. Many people, in fact, can not even name a single alternative to it.
It goes without saying that AA is a great program. However, one important lesson from the real world is that AA is not a good fit for everyone. In fact, it’s not even the right fit for most people.
To be sure, some of the fundamental lessons of AA are universal and foundational to recovery. In that sense, AA is to recovery what the Model T is to cars. Whatever lineage one can trace, however, the fact is we have come a long way in both automobile technology and recovery modalities.
As it turns out, many of our clients have spent some time in AA, if only through court order, and most of them will admit they picked up and remember a few things from their time there. The lessons of AA are timeless.
However, one does not have to be active in AA to have an active recovery from an alcohol problem, any more than one has to be an active student in the martial arts to appreciate the defensive value of kicking an attacker in the balls.
There are plenty of things a person can learn, and then move on.
The real issue is not just that some lawyers (even those who claim to “do” license appeals) are stuck on AA, but rather that such thinking represents a larger, generalized and almost “default’ belief that anyone who has a drinking problem should go to AA.
It’s not a secret that the Michigan Secretary of State hearing officers like AA. Experience clearly shows that the people who show up for license appeal hearings and are all “into” AA are, no matter how you cut it, less of a risk to ever drink again. These folks present as having actively built their lives around the AA brand of recovery. They are, in a sense, “cheerleaders” for sobriety.
That’s great for them, but that’s far from the end-all of recovery.
Many years ago, an assistant of mine, who was a substance abuse therapist, once made the distinction that some people who get over a drinking (or drug) problem through AA seem to “live to recover.” Her belief (and mine) is that the better outcome is for people to get past their issues and “recover to live.” More than a few people have remarked that some people go so deep into AA that it seems like they’ve merely traded one addiction for another.
Better that, of course, than drinking, but most people just want to put their drinking behind them and move on, rather that make recovery the center of their lives.
Over the years, we’ve won cases for people who managed to get sober in a countless different, and often unconventional ways, including some who simply quit drinking spontaneously (this is called “spontaneous recovery,” and it does happen (although not often), just like some people with cancers experience sudden and “spontaneous remission”), and others who got sober through what’s called “bibliotherapy,” which means they read a lot and kind of “study” recovery.
Some people turn to physical activity and some people swap out their whole social circle. Many people who had been to AA or gone through counseling years before suddenly find an application for the things they had heard long ago, and “understand” them in a way they could have never before.
How people get sober is really a living example of the old saying, “different strokes for different folks.”
The key lesson, whether gleaned from AA, counseling, books, or whatever, is this: once a person crosses the line of having a drinking problem, he or she can’t ever be a normal drinker again.
That’s also the key understanding a person must have internalized in order to be a viable candidate for a driver’s license appeal.
At the end of the day, my team and I guarantee success because we know how to screen people to see if they “get” this, and we’re able to select those whose cases we can guide to success. Most of all, we know how to take all these things and translate them into what we can present as real recovery.
Remember, to win a license appeal, you have to prove 2 things, by what is legally defined as clear and convincing evidence:
First, that your alcohol (and/or drug) problem is under control. This means proving that you have been alcohol (and/or drug free) for a sufficient period of time.
Second, that your alcohol (and/or drug) problem is likely to remain under control. This means that you have both the commitment and the tools to stay clean and sober.
The state, for its part, has drawn the proverbial line in the sand, and in recognition of the fact that people who don’t drink at all are exactly zero risk to ever drink and drive again, has decided that the only people who are going to win a license appeal are those who don’t drink..
We know how to screen people for properly for the specific details needed to win. We then fit the facts of their transition from drinker to non-drinker within the Secretary of State’s legal framework so that we can guarantee your win. We know exactly what to do to win every case we take on.
Many of our clients are people who have previously tried a license appeal and lost, either by going the “do-it-yourself” route, or hiring some lawyer who doesn’t know enough to guarantee his or her results.
That doesn’t happen in our office. As I noted before, a person will only pay us once to get back on the road, and our business model is predicated on winning the cases we take the first time around, not having to come back a year later and do it all over again.
If you’re looking to hire a lawyer to win the restoration of your Michigan driver’s license or the clearance of a Michigan hold on your driving record, do your homework. Read around. Read as many article as you can, and see how each lawyer explains the license appeal process, and then explains themselves. If you have any concerns about risking your money, look for a guarantee, like ours.
After you’ve read around, start checking around. All of our consultations are free, confidential, and MOST IMPORTANT, done over the phone, right when you call. My team and I are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions and explain things. We are available Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (EST), and can be reached at 586-465-1980.