As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I genuinely care about our clients. We want them to win. Of course, anyone can say that, but we actually guarantee to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take. That literally makes us invested in our clients’ success. In addition, our firm has a reputation to uphold. We would NEVER want anyone in the Secretary of State to perceive us as a firm that will merely take a case to get paid. We only represent people who satisfy the state’s sobriety requirement for license appeals.
To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, a person has to prove that he or she is sober. Our firm requires a potential client to be sober before we’ll take his or her case. We won’t represent anyone who hasn’t honestly quit drinking (and/or using drugs, including recreational marijuana). This means we’re never in the awkward position of representing some “scammer” who is merely trying to BS his or her way through the license appeal process. As a consequence, we genuinely believe in our clients.
The idea of a license restoration client losing isn’t just about getting a mark in the “L” column as opposed to the “W” column. Nor is it about having to honor our guarantee, either. Instead, we take our cases personally. To be brutally honest here, I sometimes wish that wasn’t the case. Having a strong conscience can sometimes be a burden. It would be a lot more profitable if we could take someone’s money, give the case our best shot, and then, win or lose, just move on. We can’t however, and that’s precisely because we’re honest.
I’ve told this story countless times in other articles, but it’s worth repeating here: Years ago, a close personal friend needed legal representation for a business matter. Our firm only handles driver’s license restoration, DUI, and certain criminal matters, so I contacted a colleague of mine for help. I was happy to make the referral because I knew him to be a good and honest man. I told him that, and he joked in response that being so honest “has cost me a lot of money over the years.”
That may be funny, but for people like us, it’s also true. My team and I have to decline more license restoration cases than we take. That’s a direct result of how we screen every potential client. The reader would probably not believe how much $hit we take for being honest. We get calls all the time from people ready to pay our fee, but who haven’t really quit drinking. Many will say things like, “I can say whatever you need me to say,” or “just tell me what I need to say.”
Nope. We don’t do that. The whole point of the license appeal process (and our screening of all potential clients) is to weed out anyone who is NOT genuinely sober.
Every day, people call us and explain how much they need to drive. We fully understand how hard it is to get by without a license. As one of the hearing officers with the Michigan Secretary of State observes, “everybody needs a license.”
Needing one, however, has nothing to do with being able to win it back after having lost it for multiple DUI’s.
First, it is CRITICAL to understand that, under Michigan law, any person who has lost his or her license for multiple DUI’s is PRESUMED to have an alcohol problem. This means that, in the context of a license appeal, there is no question about whether he or she has a drinking problem. That issue is considered settled. In fact, the quickest way for any person to lose his or her case is to claim he or she doesn’t have some kind of troubled relationship to alcohol, or to even HINT that he or she can ever drink again.
That’s exactly why these cases are all about proving sobriety.
It will be helpful here to look at an excerpt of the main rule (Rule 13) governing license appeals, and then I’ll briefly explain, in simple terms, what it means:
The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following:
i. That the petitioner’s alcohol or substance abuse problems, if any, are under control and likely to remain under control.
ii. That the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk.
iii. That the risk of the petitioner repeating the act of operating a motor vehicle while impaired by, or under the influence of, alcohol or controlled substances or a combination of alcohol and a controlled substance or repeating any other offense listed in section 303(1)(d), (e), or (f) or (2)(c), (d), (e), or (f) of the act is a low or minimal risk.
iv. That the petitioner has the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law.
v. Other showings that are relevant to the issues identified in paragraphs (i) to (iv) of this subdivision.
The important takeaways from all that can be summarized as follows:
The rule begins by instructing the hearing officer to NOT grant (in other words, to DENY) the appeal, unless the person proves several things by what is defined as “clear and convincing evidence.” The best way to understand proving a case by “clear and convincing evidence” is to equate it with hitting a home run.
For all the language in the rule, a person really has to prove 2 things to win a license appeal:
First, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control.” Remember, anyone who has had his or her license revoked for multiple DUI’s is presumed to have a drinking problem.
In a Michigan license appeal, an alcohol problem is deemed to be “under control” when a person can demonstrate a legally sufficient period of complete abstinence. To be clear, this includes abstinence from both alcohol and ALL other substances, including recreational marijuana. The precise amount of time necessary varies from case to case. People with 7 or 8 DUI’s and a decades-long drinking history are going to need more clean time than someone with just 2 DUI’s and whose troubled relationship to alcohol is much shorter.
That said, our firm will generally never consider moving forward until a person has been completely abstinent for at least 18 months
Second, the person must prove that his or her alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control.” This requires that one demonstrate both the ability and commitment to permanently remain alcohol and drug-free. Put another way, the person must show that he or she is a safe bet to remain sober for life.
If the hearing officer so much as suspects that a person even thinks he or she can ever drink again, it’s game over.
Although we understand why, most people don’t call our office to talk about their sobriety. Instead, the most common thing we hear is how tough it has been for them to not drive. We always have people telling us about opportunities they’ve missed, or will miss, because they don’t have a license.
When hear how people struggle, it’s downright hard to not let our sympathy guide us. It would be the easiest thing in the world to agree with someone when they explain how much they need to drive, and therefore need a license. We could easily jump all over that. If my team and I were just in this for the money, all we’d have to do is emphasize and agree how important it would be to get that message across to the hearing officer, and how we would make sure that’s done.
Then, we’d get paid.
However, if we took a case for someone who hasn’t genuinely quit drinking, or whom we otherwise couldn’t prove is sober, he or she would lose. Fortunately, we don’t work that way – we GUARANTEE to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance appeal case we take.
We only take cases for people who have quit drinking – meaning people who actually meet the legal criteria and therefore DESERVE to win their cases. If any such person were to ever lose, then we’d take it personally. We only represent people who we believe to be sober. This means that we truly believe in our clients, and we’d take any loss as an outright injustice.
I cannot help but think that a court-appointed lawyer for some rapist or murderer who is clearly guilty certainly can’t possibly feel the same. Sure, some of those lawyers do their best to protect the rights of the accused, but how bad can anyone feel when a guilty murderer gets convicted?
Fortunately, we don’t have a lot of experience losing our cases. The last thing we could afford to do is take cases that cannot or are not yet ready to win and plow ahead. That would obligate us to do the whole thing all over again, without further charge. Double the work for half the pay?
License appeals are rather involved. In the course of properly handing these cases, we get to know our clients and their stories. People sometime pour their hearts out to us. Before Covid, when people had to come to our office (we still offer that, but most opt to do everything virtually), we actually had a supply of facial tissues on hand because a lot of tears were shed.
We get close to our clients. When someone shares how much their life has changed since their last drink, how far they’ve come, and we see the work they put into their sobriety, that affects us. You can be DAMN SURE we put our hearts and souls into our work. Being able to help someone who has worked hard to get and stay sober and who clearly deserves to able to drive again is a special privilege for us. We’re grateful to be a part of that.
For all the anecdotes I could think of, and for all the explanations I could give, the bottom line is that this comes from our hearts. In a way, we’re “saps.” We truly live by the Golden Rule, and treat others as we wish to be treated.
I love the old saying that “Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking and no-one would know if you did less.”
We are blessed to be able to regularly call our clients and say “You won!” Not many lawyers ever get to be a part of anything that feels so good. For us, the reason it feels so good is because we really do care and our clients deserve to win.
If you are looking for a lawyer to win back your license, or to obtain the clearance of a Michigan hold on your driving record so that you can obtain or renew a license in another state, be a savvy consumer and read around. Pay attention to how different lawyers break down the license appeal process, and how they explain they various approaches to it.
This blog is a great place to start. It is fully searchable and updated weekly with new content. To date, I have written and published over 675 articles in the driver’s license restoration section.
When you’ve done enough reading, start checking around. You can learn a lot by speaking with a live person. Our firm can handle your case no matter where you live, so make sure you give our office a ring as you explore your options.
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 question and explain things. We’ll even be happy to compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told you.
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.