This article will examine Driver’s License Restoration Appeals without a Lawyer. Let me be clear, up front: I am a Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer. A significant part of my Practice involves handling these Appeals. Therefore, I have a strong bias toward having a License Restoration Lawyer handle a License Appeal. Still, I think you might be surprised at my analysis of this issue. In the end, I think that, if you want to try doing this on your own, then you should go for it.
I handle Michigan License Restorations (and Clearances for out-of-state Clients) almost daily. I consider myself as much a “specialist” in this niche area of the Law as anyone. I have never met another Lawyer who handles as many License Appeals as I do. As of this writing, in the year 2010, I have taken nearly 60 cases to Hearing, and have won every single one.
It is not uncommon for me to be contacted by someone who asks something like “Do I really need a Lawyer to do this?” Or, “Can I do this on my own?”
Legally speaking, a person can represent himself or herself in any proceeding, and License Appeals are no different. Whether or not that’s a good idea is another matter.
In handling as many License Appeals as I have, certain “patterns” emerge. Those who ask about doing a License Appeal on their own are looking for a way to not spend the money on Lawyer Fees. That’s understandable. While a younger Lawyer might at first want to outline all the perils of going at this without proper help (saying such things as “there’s no law which stops you from doing your own root canal, but you wouldn’t try that would you…?”), I have really taken the opposite approach. I say, “Go for it.” Then, after you get Denied, call me next year, when you become eligible to Appeal again.
That may sound harsh, but in my rather considerable experience, I have found that the easiest Clients to deal with are those who have undertaken a License Appeal on their own, and lost, or those who have not gone to the trouble to hire a real, bona-fide Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer, and lost. When I meet with those Clients, there is no “convincing” to be done. They come in my Office “all ears,” ready to follow whatever advice I give them.
I’m busy enough to wait and see the “do-it-yourselfers” the second time around. And make no mistake, while there might be a few fortunate souls who manage to win their case, the vast majority do not. I truly believe that those that do win, do so more by sheer luck than anything else.
Most “do-it-yourself” Appeals are doomed to fail. However, and I honestly mean this, don’t take my word for it. If you’re even inclined to try it on your own, then go for it.
There are, however, 2 significant costs to trying a License Appeal on your own:
1. If you lose, you’ll have to wait another year before you can try again, and,
2. All the “mistakes” you made during that failed Appeal need to be fixed next time around.
A very common inquiry I receive is from someone who was recently notified that the Appeal they tried on their own was Denied. They ask about hiring me to Appeal the matter to Court, which is so overwhelmingly a losing proposition, that I don’t bother even considering those Appeals.
This means that the lost Appeal will stand for the next 12 months. From my perspective, at that point a person can decide to throw as much money at the problem as they want, but it’s all a waste, which is why I won’t be part of any post-Denial Appeal.
I think the bigger cost is dealing with the mistakes that caused the Denial in the first place. In the larger picture, waiting another year is not the end of the world. However, setting one’s self up for failure that next year can be. Let me explain:
Imagine Taxi-cab Ted has just tried his own hand at a License Appeal and lost. He takes his loss in stride, vowing next year to do it right and hire a qualified License Restoration Lawyer.
When next year rolls around, Taxi-cab Ted goes to see a Lawyer, who, like me, wants to review the Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division’s Order Denying last years’ Appeal. Upon review, Ted’s new Lawyer finds out that, because no one prepared him for it, Ted really screwed things up during his Substance Abuse Evaluation, and put things on Record that he now must address. In addition, Ted’s Letters of Support weren’t very good either.
The Letters will be easy to fix. The screw-up that made it into Ted’s Substance Abuse Evaluation, however, now being a matter of official record, is going to have to be dealt with. Whatever that issue is, or was, Ted is going to have to “fix” things beginning with getting his new, updated Substance Abuse Evaluation completed, and then later at his next License Appeal Hearing.
It is, of course, my sincere hope that when someone comes into hire me for their next Appeal, whatever problems caused them to lose aren’t very serious. And often enough, they are not. As much as it would suit my business interests to say that the majority of people who lose their first, “do-it-yourself” License Appeal face an incredibly difficult task trying to win the second time around, the truth is that most of the “do-it-yourself” cases I see are well within my ability to fix. Few present any real trouble for me, and most of those “do-it-yourself” losses are the result of lack of knowledge of the details and Rules of License Appeals more than anything else.
Those who do screw it up badly, however, tend to do it in grand style. I have, on numerous occasions, read someone’s Denial Order and declined to take their case right out of the gate. I may have some advice or instructions for them, and will tell them to do (or not do) this, or that, for a while, and then call me thereafter. The point is that what may have at first seemed like a 1-year wait can get stretched into a much longer period of time, all of it without the ability to drive.
This all goes back to the “Go for it” sentiment I expressed earlier. If someone tries a License Appeal on their own and wins, whether by luck, or whatever, then good for them. They will have saved $3000. However, if they lose, chances are they’ll be calling me, or someone like me, the next year. And, as I noted, those who have tried on their own, or with the “help” of a Lawyer who is not a License Restoration specialist and lost, make the best new Clients. They come in ready to do whatever is necessary to win.