Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alert: Our office is OPEN, and will remain open, to the extent possible, during this crisis. We have long handled consultations and retainers by telephone. We are managing all new and pending criminal and DUI cases under current and evolving court practices.

Driver’s License Restoration and Clearance cases are well-suited to start over the phone, and the “down time” many people have now is a good opportunity to begin this process.

Our consultations have ALWAYS been free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. We are very friendly people who will be glad to explain things and answer your questions, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (EST).

Michigan Driver’s License Restoration – Experience and the Evaluator – Part 3

In part 1 of this article, we began discussing why it’s so important that an evaluator have specific experience completing the Michigan Secretary of State’s substance use evaluation (SUE) form in driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals. In part 2, we continued our examination of that subject, pointing out that an integral component of an evaluator learning from experience is getting direct feedback by a driver’s license restoration lawyer about how he or she should be doing evaluations in order to meet the expectations of the Secretary of State.

learn-300x232-1Here, in part 3, we’ll wrap things up, first by concluding our examination of why it’s important that an evaluator get feedback about how to properly complete the substance use evaluation for use in a license appeal, and then, by seeing how the lack of such feedback directly affects out of state license appeals cases, called “clearances.” This will help the reader understand why our firm, which guarantees to win every case we take, always requires that the evaluation be completed by the very experienced evaluator we use.

Feedback is an important component of experience, because unless a person can see what he or she is doing correctly – and what he or she is doing that needs correcting – there is no context or direction to make the appropriate adjustments. As much as there is to the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the flip side is that you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Often enough, when we take on a client who has lost a previous appeal and then hired us to win their case next time, they have no idea of what should have been done differently.

When we meet with these people, we read their documents and the order denying their appeal, and then explain what went wrong with the case they filed. This is usually the first time they’ve had any real clarification about anything that was done wrong before.

The bottom line is that most evaluators are simply left to operate in the dark. As I said earlier, this has nothing to do with their qualifications or skills as substance abuse counselors, but rather whether they have done enough evaluations for Michigan driver’s license restoration appeals, and had enough feedback about them, to have the kind of experience to do them the way the Michigan Secretary of State expects.

In other words, even if a person asked an evaluator something like, “how many of these have you done?”, and even if the evaluator honestly answered “a lot,” what matters more is whether that evaluator has had direct feedback about his or her work, and has adapted how they do evaluations in response to that.

A person could spend 25 years working at the widget factory, but unless he or she has had direct feedback about the products they’ve made, they can only assume that, whatever else, the widgets they’ve made been “good enough.”

Imagine that your boss at the widget factory came to you after your first day and showed you that your widgets were a bit too short, explaining that you need to wait longer after pressing button #2 before pressing button # 3, and then sliding the big lever.

If you listened to that feedback and tried it that way, and then the boss brought you one of the new widgets you made thereafter, comparing it to the short ones you had made on your first day, then you’d know how to adjust what you do.

Unless a person is shown what’s wrong with his or her work, and what can be improved about it, they can only assume that they’re doing it right. Nobody can fix what they don’t know is wrong, and nobody can do better without being shown how to do better.

A lack of direct and regular feedback to an evaluator really handicaps him or her from getting things right. Experience is critically important, but regular feedback absolutely MUST be a part of it.  License appeals are complicated, and even most lawyers don’t do them well enough to guarantee winning, like we do.

This is of particularly true for out-of-state clearance appeals, and why we require that our clients have their evaluations completed by our evaluator here, in Michigan (even if that’s done remotely).

This is a subject deep enough to merit its own article, but the bottom line is that the reason we don’t screw around with evaluators outside of our small circle is that there is just no way to teach them all the nuances that the Secretary of State expects in an evaluation unless that counselor intends to make doing them a focal point of his or her work.

To put it another way, no counselor should just “do” a driver’s license restoration substance use evaluation anymore than some lawyer should just “do” a license appeal, either, as there is really no way to teach anyone who will only handle these cases every now and then all the nuances involved in them.

This is all the more true when a substance abuse counselor is in another state, and who, when handed Michigan’s SUE form, looks it over and thinks, “I can do this,” even though he or she has never completed one before (or maybe has completed 1 or 2 in that past, but has never had any feedback about them).

For as many evaluations as I have seen over the years, I have NEVER seen one completed by an evaluator from another state that was anywhere near good enough to be filed. Again, that’s not a knock on the counselor who completed it, because his or her counseling skills may be wonderful.

However, it’s the expectations of the Michigan Secretary of State regarding the state-issued substance use evaluation form that must be met, and, as I’ve tried to make clear, many of those can’t be found in any book or in any other place; they can only be learned the hard way.

Whatever else, nobody is going to feel much comfort after having paid some counselor to do an evaluation that wasn’t good enough. Even though the counselor may then learn from his or her mistake, that’s cold comfort to the person whose case was denied.

We don’t have those problems, and we have a guarantee in place to back that up. Part and parcel of our services is to double and then triple-check everything, including the substance use evaluation. If it ever did turn out that we missed something that the evaluator got wrong and it caused a case to lose, that would be on us, and covered by our guarantee.

But we don’t want to screw things up and then have to fix them doing “warranty work.” We make our money winning the first time around.

If you are looking for a lawyer to win back your Michigan driver’s license or clear a hold on your Michigan driving record so that you can get a license in another state, be a smart consumer and do your homework. Read around and see how other lawyers explain the license appeal process, and how they explain their approach to it.

When you’ve done enough of that, start checking around. All of our consultations are free, confidential, and 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 can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (EST), at either 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980.

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