In a recent article, I explained that one of the most common kinds of emails I receive regarding Michigan driver’s license restoration issues either asks, “Can you help me?” or simply states, “Please help.” In this article, I want to take that subject a little further and explain how and why the kind of help I offer is unsurpassed, because it comes with a guarantee to win. In many of the 350-plus driver’s license restoration articles I have written, I explore, often in great detail, every aspect of the license appeal process. Ultimately, the point of this process is to either win back your Michigan driver’s license, or, if you now live out of state, to win a clearance of the hold that the Michigan Secretary of State’s has on your driving record that prevents you from getting a license in another state. For all the experience and skill that I, or any lawyer, for that matter, can claim to have in winning Michigan license reinstatement cases, nothing provides the reassurance of a guarantee that you will win.
I love being a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer. As far as lawyering goes, I don’t think there is any practice that can come close in terms of dealing with clients on the upswing of their lives, looking to put the last piece of the puzzle back into place, and who really deserve to win their cases. Yet for all of that, this is also how I make my living, and it does not serve me well to take on cases that are not ready to win, only to have to come back and do all the work a second time next year, in order to fulfill my guarantee. In other words, I make my money winning these cases the first time, not by having to come back and do warranty work. This means that I am as invested as my client in the outcome of each case I take. As confident as I am in my own abilities, I must be even more confident of my client’s sobriety. I offer my services for hire, but I do not sell my integrity and am serious when I say that I only take cases for people who have really quit drinking.
The real meat and potatoes of the license restoration process is about proving that you’re sober and that you are a safe bet to never drink again. The very first question a lawyer should ask a potential client is if he or she is, in fact, sober. It’s certainly the first thing I want to know when someone calls. For me, this goes beyond just making sure the client is “eligible” and otherwise qualifies to win a license restoration or clearance appeal. As your lawyer, when I know you’ve done the work to quit drinking and live a sober lifestyle, it becomes personal for me, as well; you deserve your license back, and I will put everything I have into making sure you do. Like you, I want that to happen the first time around, so my win-guarantee, coupled with my up-front insistence on real sobriety, means that I will get you back on the road. In the following paragraphs, I want to take a brief look at what you need in order to win your license appeal.
As I noted earlier, many of my previous articles have rather carefully examined every aspect of license restoration cases. A person can spend decades studying the details; that’s what I’ve done for the last 26 years, so that now, you won’t have to. Still, for the more analytical, you can pretty much learn everything there is to know about license appeals in my archives. For now, however, and in short order, here are the things necessary to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance case after your license has been revoked for multiple DUI’s:
You must be sober. The whole license appeal process is about making sure than anyone allowed back on the road is not a risk to drink and drive again, and the state sees those who no longer drink, and who are committed to never drink again, as the safest bet– and the only bet – to do just that. Sobriety, in this context, means that you have quit drinking and intend to remain alcohol-free for life. If you even THINK of trying to qualify this in any way (there are no ifs, ands or buts about it) with the idea that you can have so much as a sip of alcohol at any point in your life somewhere down the road, then you are exactly the kind of person the process is designed to keep off the road.
You must be eligible. This means that you not only have to meet the legal time requirements to file a license appeal (this can be found on your driving record), you also need to meet the requirements of the Michigan Secretary of State’s rules, and the way they are interpreted and applied in actual, real-world license cases. This includes things like you must be off probation to win. Arguments like, “That’s not fair!” may very well be true, but they won’t win your license back. To succeed in a license appeal, you have to meet all of the eligibility requirements.
You must be ready. Everyone “needs” a license, and everyone wants his or hers back. Even if you’ve gotten sober, and even if you’re well past all time requirements to be legally and practically eligible to win a Michigan license reinstatement case, you have to be ready to go through the process. In my office, the process begins with a first meeting that lasts at least 3 hours. Nothing good comes easy. You’ll have to get to my office to start the ball rolling. This isn’t much of a problem for anyone who lives locally, but fully more than half of my clients come from out of state, or from across the state, so it’s an undertaking that requires a commitment to follow through. We make it as easy as possible, helping to schedule the mandatory substance abuse evaluation the same day I have that first meeting with the client. Winning your license back, or the clearance of a Michigan hold isn’t something that can just be phoned in…
You’ll need a substance abuse evaluation. It is really the foundation of a license appeal. See the article following this one. The main reason I spend 3 hours with each new client is to prepare him or her to undergo the substance abuse evaluation. I send every one of my clients to the evaluator with my own “substance abuse evaluation checklist” as a backup to make sure that he or she is made aware every single bit of relevant information that needs to be included in the state’s evaluation form. By and large, these cases are won (or lost) in the preparation, and there’s nowhere that’s more apparent than here, at this initial stage of the process. I go over everything that has anything to do with the evaluation with a fine-toothed comb and that’s why I can guarantee a win every case I take.
Letters of support are required. Unfortunatley, just about no one in the world get them right without some help. The letters need to focus on certain things and they should not really get into others. Most letter writers, although well-intentioned, get it backwards and omit what needs to be said while focusing on how badly the person needs and/or deserves a license, none of which will help at all. It takes good editing to get these letters right, and that’s my job. The client, however, is going to have to follow up and make sure the changes are made and that I get notarized and finalized originals.
We have to “prep” for the hearing. This is important, and I do all my preps the evening before the actual hearing. My clients walk into the hearing office so completely prepared for what’s going to happen that when we meet in the lobby, there is never any need go over any last-minute details. As much as all of this may cost, winning back your license is not something you can just throw money at and expect to win. My guarantee presumes that I start with a sober client who will follow up with what’s necessary and take the process seriously. When you add it all up, your investment of money can be measure in dollars, your investment in time can be measured in hours, but your investment from the heart must come without limit.
The person who has had his or her “a-ha” or lightbulb moment and quit drinking knows all about what happens in the heart. If that’s you, then you know how every single aspect of your life has changed. Who you hang out with, what you do, and just about every other facet of your life changes when you get sober. At the outset, it can be scary, and it is not fun, at least not at first. In fact, you may have wondered if you would ever have fun again (although, as you think back on it, you realize that drinking itself had stopped being fun long before you stopped), but in time, your life filled up. Without fail, an outsider can watch the trajectory of a person’s life rise as he or she grows into sobriety. People get better jobs, ditch the drinking buddies, go back to school, meet a better partner, or regain the trust and respect of the one they had (while they simultaneously regain the trust and respect of the other people who really matter in their lives, as well); they go into business, or get recognized, and often promoted at the job they have. They start to feel better physically and emotionally; they feel better about themselves and gain a sense that, if they can quit drinking, they can do pretty much anything they put their minds to. If you’re in recovery, you know what this is about; if this confuses you, then you’re not in recovery – at least yet.
This is the kind of stuff you need to win your license back, and I can put it altogether and help you win your case the first time around. If you have questions, or are just ready to drive again, legally, call my office. We’re here to help, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., and can be reached at 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980.