As part of my Practice as a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer, I always have my License Appeal cases heard live, and in-person. I NEVER conduct a “video Hearing.” I schedule each and every one of my Michigan Driver’s License Appeal cases for a live, in-person Hearing at the Michigan Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) in Livonia. In this article, I will review why I think a live Hearing is infinitely superior to one done by video.
Some of this seems pretty obvious. A video Hearing near where one live or works can, of course, be more convenient than a live Hearing much farther away. As it turns out, I could schedule every one of my cases for a video Hearing at a Secretary of State Branch location just down the road from my Office, less than a five minute drive from my parking lot. Yet given what I believe to be the incomparable advantage offered by a live Hearing, I would never settle for convenience over advantage. I gladly make the one-hour drive to Livonia, because that’s part of my winning strategy.
That should count for something. I could charge the exact same Legal Fee and cut about two hours off of my drive time, yet I elect to make the drive anyway. Whatever else, you can believe that it’s not that I have some great love for driving…
I do, however, have a great love for winning my Michigan Driver’s License Restoration and Clearance Appeals the first time. I have an even greater love for being able to Guarantee a win, and not having to worry about actually backing that up, because I win almost all my Appeals the first time, anyway. I can boast a first time win Record of around 98% because I handle (and ultimately win) more License Appeals in any given year than most Attorneys will ever see in their whole career, which means I not only have tons of experience, but tons of winning experience.
And from all of that experience, I know that in every single respect, a live, in-person Hearing beats a choppy, flickering, grainy, impersonal video Hearing. This really seems like a no-brainer.
In a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Appeal, the two most important issues to be proven (by what is called “Clear and Convincing Evidence“) are that the person’s alcohol problem “is under control,” and that their alcohol problem “is likely to remain under control.” Of the two issues, the second is the more difficult to prove, and most often accounts for why so many “do-it-yourself” Appeals, or those handled by some “general” Lawyer, lose the first time.
Yet for all the apparent simplicity of this, there is a kind of irony here, as well. All too often, people find themselves involved in various kinds of legal proceedings and aren’t overly anxious to have their most private thoughts explored while the details of their lives are examined. Often, there are things they don’t want “found out.”
In a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Appeal, that kind of microscopic examination is the order of the day. The whole point of the process is to make precisely such a close examination of a person’s life, and even their thought processes, to make sure that they are Sober, and likely to remain Sober. Anyone in denial and still drinking will shrink from this kind of inspection.
Curiously, however, the truly Sober person will not resist such scrutiny because he or she has nothing to hide, and is anxious to prove it. Unlike those with something to hide, the Sober person wants to be “found out.”
I have long believed that there is something unmistakably genuine about real Sobriety, and that it cannot be faked. Those that are genuinely Sober naturally have it, while those who can only pay lip service to the notion of Sobriety do not. The fakers may be able to fool those who don’t deal with alcohol and substance abuse issues for a living, but the problem, they’ll soon enough discover, is that the DAAD examines these issues for a living. For me, alcoholism and substance abuse issues, ranging from the etiology of these problems, to their diagnosis and treatment, all the way through Recovery, are the focus of my day-to-day work. Some of my License Restoration Clients in AA half-seriously joke that I know the steps better than they do. I can spot real Sobriety a mile away, and it has little to do with having “memorized” the 12 Steps of AA.
Sometimes, you can really learn something from someone by looking into their eyes, or listening to the tone of their voice. Facial expressions and body language give very important non-verbal cues, as well, and all of these things are lost in a video Hearing. I think that when a person has really made the transition from drinker to non-drinker, they want someone to see them close up. They want the Hearing Officer to be able to read all of those obvious and subtle non-verbal cues given off during their testimony. But it doesn’t end there.
Occasionally, a Client will bring something to the Hearing that was not part of the original evidence package filed with the DAAD in Lansing. Perhaps it’s an AA coin, or a certificate for some achievement at school or work. In a live Hearing, we can hand those up to the Hearing Officer. He or she can copy them. You can’t do that at a video Hearing. You can’t submit any new evidence at a video Hearing, nor can you pass on any updated or corrected evidence, like a Letter of Support with the wrong date, or the signature missing, or something like that.
In a previous article explaining why I never call witnesses at a License Appeal Hearing, I noted that when see some Lawyer who does, I consider that an amateur mistake. I hold the same opinion about video Hearings.
About half of my Clients, perhaps even a bit more, live rather far from my Office, and from the Livonia Hearing Office of the DAAD, where I do my Appeals. Many of my Clients live outside of Michigan, from as nearby as Ohio, and as far away as California and Hawaii. Some active duty Military personnel come back in from places like South Korea and Japan to get their Driving Records “fixed” and have a Clearance issued so that they can get back on the road. Of my Clients who live in Michigan, many are from up north, or the west side of the state. But all of them have their cases decided after a live Hearing at the Livonia DAAD Hearing Office.
I happen to be lucky in that the nearest Hearing Office is about an hour from my Office. But if that Livonia location suddenly closed down, and I had to choose between a video Hearing at the SOS Branch Office about 5 minutes down the road from my Office, or making the much longer drive to Lansing, I’d go to Lansing every time. Perhaps I’d have to adjust my Fee structure, and charge more, but I’d simply never settle for a video Hearing. As I say, “I’m in it to win it.”
Is there anyone who begins the License Restoration process who isn’t “in it to win it?” I think not. So why would anyone settle for anything less that a live, in-person Hearing? Then again, why would anyone settle for anything less than a Guaranteed win?