I was recently asked how many Michigan driver’s license restoration cases I handle every year, because the person making the inquiry was being a smart consumer and doing some “comparison shopping.” Off the top of my head, I indicated that I wasn’t exactly sure, so I took out my date book at looked back over the preceding 2 months. As it turns out, in March of this year (2017), I handled 25 driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, and in April, I handled 22 license appeal cases; that’s about average for me. While that much experience is certainly a lot, and should give any potential client a sense of comfort about hiring me, I think it’s even more important, however, that I provide a first-time win guarantee in every license appeal case I take. Seriously, if all that experience is worth anything, then I should have no reservations about putting my money where my mouth is, and I don’t. For all the talking that could be done, the importance of my guarantee says far more than anything else ever could. In this article, I want to take a candid look at what that experience really means, and why, more than anything else, getting good at license appeals means learning from one’s mistakes.
Let’s start with this blog. Over the years, it has really grown, and this will be the 377th driver’s license restoration article I’ve published, bringing the total number of articles I’ve put up so far to almost 800. Writing these articles has made me a much better lawyer, because I’ve not only had to research all kinds of things, including the most minute details of more legal issues than you could imagine, but also because I’ve also had to take the time to make sense of it all. You can’t explain something very well unless you understand it first. Heck, even if I wasn’t a lawyer, I’d be something of an expert at license restorations just through the effort of writing nearly 400 articles on the subject. And in the spirit of candor, it hasn’t been lost on me that, since this blog began, a whole crop of new lawyers has swarmed in to claim some piece of the license restoration pie. Now, I see website names with some variation of “license restoration” all over the place. I’ve also seen some of my blog subjects “borrowed” on various websites (it’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery), and I am well aware that plenty of lawyers read and use my articles to learn various aspects of the license appeal process. I’ve had numerous calls and emails from lawyers with all kinds questions, and honestly, I’m glad to help. Yet for as much as I know, the cold, hard truth is that I learned much of it the hard way, by having gotten it wrong at some point before.
I would, of course, caution anyone, but especially any lawyer, that although I have certainly put out more relevant information about license appeals than you can find any and everywhere else combined, my primary purpose it to educate and enlighten people about the license restoration process, not train anyone how to do it. You can’t learn to ride a bike or perform surgery by reading; these are things you have to actually go out and do, and no matter how smart you may be, you learn the most from the things you get wrong. The light bulb wasn’t invented on the first try. Instead, it came about after countless failed attempts. It was gotten right because it was gotten wrong so many times first. Ditto for the airplane. Perhaps what I bring to the table more than anyone else is that in my career, I’ve learned all the things NOT to do in, or not to leave out of, a license appeal case. The sheer number of cases I’ve handled means that some lawyer knocking out 50 license cases a year is going to need 26 years to encounter all the situations I have in just the last 5. In other words, I’ll see and handle more cases in less than a decade than he or she would in more than half a century, and I’ve been at it for over 26 years already…
Yet while experience counts, it means nothing at the expense of quality time with each client. I never have been and never will be a high-volume, “mill” operation, nor am I a “Jack-of-all-Trades” criminal lawyer. In fact, just about my entire practice is focused on DUI and license restoration cases. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I am disturbed that there are some operations that use a website with a specific sounding license restoration name, making it seem like they specialize in this field, when a little checking reveals they run a bunch of differently named websites, meaning they’re one larger general practice with a group of specialized sounding websites. Similarly, you’ll often find that the use of “license restoration” somewhere in a website title leads you to an all-purpose firm that handles all crimes, from sex and theft offenses to domestic violence, and everything in-between.
Because I concentrate in license restorations, I spend more time on them than anyone else, both in the aggregate and in each individual case. Beyond the overall number of cases I handle, for example, my first meeting with a new client is scheduled for at least 3 hours. Experience has taught me that there are no shortcuts to doing things right, and that I must spend that kind of quality time with my client, getting to know him or her, so that I can really understand his or her recovery story. This is how and why I guarantee to win every case I take. And if I’m not involved in a license restoration case for multiple DUI’s, then I’m in court, handling a current DUI or suspended/revoked license charge.
I remember way back when, as I was trying to learn how to handle license appeal cases; I read everything about them I could get my hands on. Over time, I learned all kinds of things that weren’t spelled out in the actual license appeal rules. As my practice became more focused on license restoration cases, I spent more time learning what I could about the process involved in winning them. I remember the sting of certain lessons, and how you only had to make certain mistakes once, while other things more took time to figure out. I’m not about to give away the secret recipe here, but one of the biggest lessons I ever learned, and I have written about this for years, is that calling witnesses is a first-class amateur mistake. Considering that I not only win (and guarantee to do so) more cases in any given year than the next busiest local operation will handle in 3 years, I know what I’m talking about. That doesn’t mean that you can’t win an appeal if you call a witness, but I can say, without a doubt, that in the thousands of cases I’ve handled, not one has ever been lost one for not calling a witness. By contrast, as I look at what other lawyers have done, I’ve seen plenty of other cases where witness testimony has ruined everything. The question then becomes, why would any lawyer resort to an unnecessary tactic that brings such risk to a case? Because he or she doesn’t know better. By the time you’re winning 100 or more license appeals a year, you’re using strategies that most lawyers will never get enough experience to even learn.
Yet for as smart as I might think myself to be, I didn’t learn to NOT call witnesses in a book. I learned it on my own, the hard way. I learned how to present better evidence than a witness can provide through constant experience. Over the course of editing and submitting thousands and thousands of letters of support, I’ve learned about every tiny little detail that can go wrong – the kinds of things a lawyer handing half as many cases as I do would take twice as long to pick up. But the point is, neither of us will find out about this stuff until we encounter it. Do you know how a pilot learns to land a plane in high winds? By landing a plane in high winds.
Which raises a fact that scares me. I started out as a smart-enough guy, but how I do things today is a lot different than it was 25 years ago, and even a mere 5 years ago. I can’t help but think of every dentist and surgeon; they’re well-educated and thoroughly schooled, but there comes a time when they pick up the drill or the scalpel and start work on their first patient. Even though the job they do may be well-done, you just learn to do certain things better by sheer repetition. I’m sure a surgeon with 20 years under his or her belt cuts differently (maybe faster, or maybe smaller) than he or she did even 10 years before. I’m sure a dentist learns to drill better, and more precisely, and I’m sure that, like everyone else, he or she learned it through experience. Even though I got through the “mistakes” part of license appeals a long time ago, I continually refine how I do things. I’ve cut the time for my license hearing “prep sessions” almost in half over the last few years. Yet for all of that, I have found that it still takes at least 3 hours at that first meeting to lay out a winning foundation for any license restoration or clearance case. I’ve refined how I do my first meetings, but that doesn’t mean I’ve been able to make them any quicker, although I’m sure they are better now than there were a few thousand cases ago.
In the real world, we’d hope experience means that one has learned to do things better and more efficiently. “Veteran” typically equates to “proven,” while “rookie” usually indicates a lot to learn. I’ve learned a lot over the last few decades, and through thousands of license restoration cases, I’ve paid my dues and learned all the things not to do every bit as much as I’ve refined the things that should or must be done. I now use that experience to help those who are genuinely sober win back their driver’s license. At the end of the day, however, for as much confidence as I hope to expect the reader to have in me based upon everything I say, nothing is stronger than backing it up with a guarantee, like I do.
If you have honestly quit drinking and need to win your license back, do your homework, read and shop around, and, for what it’s worth, do the math. When your ready to ask questions or otherwise move forward, call my office at 586-465-1980. All consultations are done over the phone, right when you call, and you’ll find us here to help Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.