Recently, someone inquired about whether they “needed” to hire a Lawyer for a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration case. This caller had moved out of Michigan, across the country, and was understandably skeptical about paying lots money to fly in and come and see me for three hours, then go and have his Substance Abuse Evaluation completed at the Clinic a few blocks from my Office to which I refer my Clients, only to return home, wait for his Hearing date, then come back again to attend that. He candidly asked if all the statistics about how many “do-it-yourself” License Appeals lose and isn’t a bit exaggerated, and if I don’t just “say that stuff” to drum up business.
Actually, I think that’s a great question, and it has been awhile since I’ve really taken this subject on. Here, I’ll open with an answer before my explanation, and I suspect that my response might surprise the reader: If you are thinking about trying to handle your own Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Appeal (or Clearance), I say, “Go for it.” I make my income helping people who really need or want my help. I have absolutely ZERO interest in “scaring” anybody into calling me. Therefore, anyone who thinks they can handle their own case should give it a go. While the statistics are overwhelmingly unfavorable, the fact is that some people actually do, eventually, win.
In terms of the success rate for out of state Appeals that don’t require a Hearing (called an Administrative Review) the numbers have remained fairly constant: 3 out of 4 lose. There are several reasons for these dismal results. Before I get into any of the “Lawyer” stuff, the biggest reason overall is often the one most frequently overlooked: Most people with an alcohol problem cannot beat it.
That might sound harsh, but it’s true. In “Treating Alcoholism: Helping Your Clients Find the Road to Recovery” by Robert R. Perkinson, PhD., (2004; Wiley Books), a textbook I’m currently reading, the author restates one of the most stark and frightening statistics of all: 95% of all alcoholics die of their disease.
Think about all those people from high school who were the “big drinkers.” Almost all of them just went on to become “bigger drinkers.” Most people, in their youth, knew someone who could have (or was) called or considered an “old drunk.” Think about what happened to those people; they never got better, they just died an “old drunk.”
Statistically speaking, it is a distinct minority of people with an alcohol problem who actually overcome it. If the reader finds him or herself in this rather elite group, then congratulations are in order. In my Practice, I require anyone whom I represent to actually be Sober as a prerequisite to accept a Driver’s License Restoration Appeal case. If I do accept a case, I Guarantee that I will win it. Yet of those people who contact my Office, many admit to still drinking, or otherwise don’t think they have a problem with alcohol. I cannot help them. Nor will the Michigan Secretary of State…
The whole point of the License Appeal process before the Secretary of State’s Driver Assessment Appeal Division (DAAD) is to screen out anyone who hasn’t completely changed his or her life and eliminated alcohol from it. In other words, the DAAD looks beyond a person just not having had a drink (being “abstinent”) for a given period, and instead, attempts to confirm that the person has made the necessary changes to become Sober, and plans on remaining alcohol-free for life. In the larger picture, the state sets the bar rather high, figuring it is far better to deny some Sober people a few times than it ever is to let someone who is still drinking get back on the road.
To make sure only the Sober win back their License, the DAAD has what seems like a million little rules. Learning this stuff through and through takes years, and this is why I consider myself a “Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer.”
I work on Michigan Driver’s License Restoration cases every day. Even on the weekends, at home, I’m often doing something or other related to License Restorations. It should be clear to anyone who reads any of my various Driver’s License Restoration articles on this blog, or who clicks through the License Restoration section of my website, that I truly enjoy what I do. The Driver’s License Appeal field allows me to combine my lifelong interest and study of the development, diagnosis and treatment of, as well as Recovery from alcohol (and substance abuse) problems with my passion for and training in the Law, and to use those skills to get my Clients back on the road, which is something that actually helps them, and improves their lives.
A necessary part of being a Michigan “Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer” is being a Michigan “DUI Lawyer.” These things go hand in hand, like a Physician who is an “ENT,” or “Ears, Nose and Throat” Doctor. You won’t see a “Nose” Doctor, nor will you see a “Throat” Doctor. Those physical systems are so inter-related that the practitioner must really understand them all in order to effectively treat any one. Ditto for Driver’s License Restorations and DUI. After all, a person loses their License for multiple DUI convictions, and it is the very alcohol problem that led to those convictions that must be addressed in a License Appeal.
I see much of what most other Lawyers do as a kind of “misery business.” Like a funeral director, the typical Lawyer comes into a person’s life at a low point. People most often need to hire a Lawyer when there are problems: They’ve been injured, and someone is at fault; they need a Divorce; they are being sued; they stand charged with a Crime (like DUI) and need Representation.
My License Restoration Appeal Practice is completely the opposite. I meet people on the “upswing” of their lives. When I sit across my conference table from someone, they often shake their heads and talk about how much better their lives are, and how much happier they are now from how they were at the time of their last DUI. My Driver’s License Appeal Clients are Sober, and grateful for that. They’ve had the opportunity to rebuild almost every aspect of their lives except for this one last, outstanding thing: Their Driver’s License. They come to my Office ready to put the final piece of the puzzle into place.
If anyone wants to try his or her own hand at a License Appeal, have at it. A significant portion of my Driver’s License Restoration Clients are people who have tried an Appeal on their own and lost. These people make great Clients because they come into my Office “all ears.” They come ready to listen, and not argue. I’d rather have that.
And I realize this might sound cold, as well, but since I’m being so honest here, I might as well put it all on the table: it’s just easier for me to tell anyone contemplating trying a License Appeal without a Lawyer to go ahead, and then wait for them to call me next year. Just by the numbers, the vast majority of “do-it-yourselfers” aren’t going to win. I have more than enough cases lined up to keep me busy.
This isn’t some tactic I use to “drum up” business. I really mean it. I have tried to find a diplomatic way to say more, but each sentence hereafter doesn’t sound right, and imparts a kind of “cocky” tone to this article. As a result, I will just repeat what I’ve already said. If a person is inclined to file and handle their own Driver’s License Restoration Appeal, they should not be persuaded against that. If they want to try it on their own, then they should.
But they should also bookmark this blog, or my site, just in case…