Understanding recovery is the key to winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, as well as proving the 2 key legal issues underlying every appeal: First, that your alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that you have been alcohol-free for a legally sufficient period of time, and, second, that your alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” which means that you have the ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free (i.e., sober) for life.
Everyone who has given up drinking (and/or using drugs) understands, through hard-won experience, what recovery is all about. Although it sounds like a cliche, the truth is that it really is as much a journey as it is a destination. In order for a lawyer to really be able to prove these issues, and, in the case of our practice, guarantee to win every case we take, a comprehensive and fundamental understanding of recovery is necessary, and I’m not just talking “book knowledge,” either.
In addition to knowing about addiction and recovery from the inside-out, the outside-in, and having spent 30 years dealing with a largely addicted and recovering client base, I have also completed a formal, post-graduate program of addiction studies. My clinical and real world experience means that I know, at the gut-level, about the development, diagnosis, treatment and recovery from alcohol, drug and other addiction issues better than any lawyer I’ve ever heard about.
Perhaps the most significant thing about our firm is that we are, at our core, a recovery-based practice. As DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we deal with alcohol problems and drinking issues all day, every day. However, we are NEVER preachy in criminal or DUI cases, because we know that one of the fastest ways to alienate a person and send them running for the hills is to talk to them about a problem they don’t think they have.
In the context of a potentially successful driver’s license restoration or clearance case decided by the Michigan Secretary of State, the focus is strictly on recovery. Anyone who hasn’t admitted and then fixed their alcohol and or drug problem by quitting altogether and having made the life changes necessary to live a clean and sober life has NO CHANCE of winning a license appeal case.
This may sound blunt, but any lawyer who isn’t clear about this, up front, shouldn’t be handling license appeals in the first place.
We’ll get more into what it means to “know” recovery shortly, but first, let me make clear what the Secretary of State is really looking for in a license appeal:
Once a person has lost his or her license for multiple DUI’s, he or she is legally categorized, under Michigan law, as a “habitual alcohol offender.” This designation carries a presumption that the person has a drinking problem. That’s not the half of it, though…
Back in the real world, where DUI cases and license appeals are decided, the practical implication is that anyone who has racked up more than 2 DUI’s is an unacceptable risk to allow on the road unless – and until – he or she can prove that they’ve given up drinking for good. Here’s why:
The state has drawn a line in the sand that the ONLY people who will ever get a license back after losing it for 2 or more DUI’s are those who no longer drink, and can prove they’re a safe bet to never drink again.
The state has NO interest in taking any chances on any person who tries to explain that they still drink, but only once in a while, or only on special occasions, or only at home, or only when someone else is driving, or any thing like that.
It is beyond debate that people who do not drink are ZERO risk to drink and drive, and therefore to ever drive drunk (again).
This means that being able to prove that you have quit drinking for good is the minimum preliminary requirement to be able to win a license appeal.
This requires a lot more than just trying pass yourself off as someone who no longer drinks. In fact, the whole point of the license appeal process is to screen out the minority of people who really have become sober from everyone else, including those who are mere pretenders.
What the state is looking for are those people who have simply had enough, hit their bottom, and made the life-changing decision to live out an alcohol-free life.
This is huge, and it’s a HELL of a lot different than somebody who confuses it with merely cutting back, or otherwise stopping drinking for any reason other than having become, as the AA people say, “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
For all the books one can read about addiction, and for as much as a person can learn about alcohol and drug problems, and how people recover from them, REALLY knowing this stuff means actually having lived it, or having lived with it.
It means having actually been affected by it, and anyone as who has gone through his or her own problem knows, family and close friends are often the first line of collateral damage, and have very much had to “live with it.”
When a person finally gets sober, every last thing about his or her life changes. For as legal and technical as a license appeal can be, nothing can help a lawyer frame a license appeal case as a winner better than when he or she understands that every person’s recovery is really a story of sorts.
Part of making a case into a winner is for the driver’s license restoration lawyer to draw from the details of the client’s recovery story and show both how he or she has remained drug and alcohol-free for that “sufficient” period of time, and, moreover, why he or she won’t go back to drinking, ever again. This presumes, however, that the lawyer really “knows” recovery in the first place.
This has nothing to do with AA, by the way. One of the biggest misconceptions about driver’s license restoration appeals is that a person needs to be in AA to win. This is 100% untrue.
You DO NOT need to be in AA to win a driver’s license restoration case.
My office guarantees to win every first time license restoration and clearance appeal we take, and most of our clients are NOT in AA. People get sober in all kinds of different ways, and anyone who doesn’t fundamentally grasp this doesn’t really understand recovery.
Nobody quits drinking because it’s working out so well. Every person has his or her own “bottom,” but for those who do get sober, there simply comes a point when the’ve had enough, and they know they have to quit. By the time this happens, drinking has usually stopped being “fun” a long time ago, and was almost purely a habit, if not an outright addiction.
And that raises another point: a drinking problem doesn’t have to be a physical addiction, nor does it require that a person drinks every day, either.
For that matter, there doesn’t have to be some deep, dark reason why a person develops an issue with alcohol. While it’s true that some people turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism, it’s also true – although often overlooked – that plenty of people just liked to party, and somehow, either didn’t learn how to have fun or socialize properly without it, or otherwise just don’t know how to stop drinking soon enough (if at all) once they start.
This is how a behavior can develop into a habit.
The simplest way to understand this is the old therapist’s adage that “anything that causes a problem IS a problem.” When a person can look around and see that the common denominator to most or all of the problems in their life is drinking, then they’re on the right track.
There are lots of people who, despite the obvious connection between their drinking and the the troubles they have, simply live in denial and either don’t see it, or else try to explain (rationalize) it away.
As it turns out, most people who ultimately do quit drinking struggle with the whole quitting thing for some time. Most will first try to control, cut back, or otherwise limit their drinking, to no avail.
Unfortunately, plenty of people never get past this stage, and therefore never get sober.
It’s the lucky ones who eventually realize that this is an all-or-nothing proposition, and that the only way to fix things is to simply quit drinking – completely, and for good.
This is a lot easier to write about than actually do. The decision to quit drinking never come too soon for anyone. On top of that, as much as a person can repair the some of the damage done by his or her drinking, some things can remain broken forever. Plenty of divorces can be blamed on drinking problems.
This stuff is real, and sometimes, it hurts. When a person finally does “put the plug in the jug,” so to speak, one of the first things they do is try and fix their relationships with family and friends.
In time, people who quit drinking begin to genuinely feel better, both physically and mentally. They begin to earn back the trust and respect of those who matter to them. They gain a kind of clarity of hindsight that positively affects the way they look ahead.
People who embrace sobriety change who they hang out with, where they go, and what they do for fun. Almost without exception, they do better in their spheres of employment; those who couldn’t hold a job finally get one. Some people get better jobs, or find themselves recognized for being better and more reliable at what they do, and get promotions and/or raises.
Others go back to school and either complete a degree, or even undertake further education.
None of these things happen to somebody who just tries to abstain from drinking for a time, however. This kind of good stuff is reserved for people who make a whole-hearted and genuine decision to embrace sobriety.
Those who really know it understand that there is a HUGE difference between real sobriety and anything else (meaning anything less). Sobriety is life-changing, and affects everything. It is as much a state of mind, and a state of being, really, as anything else.
My office truly understands this.
It’s not my mission to criticize any other lawyer’s articles or sites, but it is not lost on me, nor should it be lost on the reader, that I’m the only person who writes about this stuff, and “talks” this way.
I honestly have no idea how much about real recovery other lawyers know, at least based upon what’s online. While I highly doubt I’m the only one who knows more than just a little, I certainly am the only one who puts up articles like this and gets into any detail about addiction and recovery.
And make no mistake, this is exactly the kind of detail that wins cases. For all the numbers other lawyers throw around, my office consistently handles about 200 license appeal matters each year, we win almost all of them, and, more than anything else, we have an ironclad guarantee in first time restoration and clearance cases.
Our guarantee not only protects the client, but it protects us from ever taking money in a case we can’t win, and because we really know recovery, we know exactly which cases can be won, and can tell them apart from others that aren’t yet ready, and those that may never be.
If you are looking for a lawyer to win back your driver’s license, or obtain the clearance of a Michigan hold on your driving record so that you can get or renew a license in another state, be a good consumer, do your homework, and read around. Pay attention to how lawyers explain things, and explain themselves.
When you’ve done enough of that, start checking around. All of our consultations are free, confidential, and, best of all, 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.