The ONLY thing that matters in Michigan license appeal cases is winning. There is no second-place prize, or participation award for trying hard. The simple fact is that you either get your license back, or not. All the effort in the world is a complete waste unless it results in a winning license appeal. Given the importance of what’s at stake, you need a lawyer who knows how to win. Our firm guarantees that, if we take your case, you WILL win. Let’s examine how we do that, and why anything less simply isn’t good enough.
In the first, place, we are not a law firm that merely “does” driver’s license restoration cases. My team and I specifically concentrate our practice in them. Each year, we handle about 200 driver’s license restoration related matters. More than 99% of all lawyers will never even see a fraction of that many license appeal cases in a whole career. Our experience is unrivaled in this field. The real basis of our success, though, is that our firm won’t take a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case unless we know we can make it into a winner.
Of course, we’re in business to earn a living. Even so, we won’t take anyone’s money if we’re not confident enough to be able to guarantee that we will win his or her case. That’s huge. We get multiple inquiries every day from people who are willing to hire us. The reality, however, is that some of them aren’t qualified to win for one reason or another. Because we’re honest, and also because we have a guarantee on the line, we have to say no to those cases. That’s how things should work.
Any lawyer who has enough confidence to take your money should also have enough confidence to guarantee that he or she will win your case. Remember, the ONLY thing that matters is whether you win or not. “Nice try” won’t get you back on the road. If you lose without a guarantee, your money is just gone, and you’ve got nothing for it. Our firm has never operated like that. And while the whole money thing is important, there is a lot more to a successful appeal than that.
The legal process must be followed, and it is complicated. In large part because so many lawyers don’t understand what I’ve often called the “million little rules,” meaning the actual laws that govern license appeal cases, they don’t know better. Then, they take someone’s money, albeit with an honest intention to help. We’re different. Because we have such a busy practice, my team and I won’t take any case we can’t guarantee to win.
There are plenty of other lawyers who don’t have that luxury. They need the business, and aren’t in a position to turn away an offer of payment. On top of that, it is, of course, easy to agree with someone who explains how hard it is to get by without being able to legally drive. Just about everyone will say how much they “need” a license. Legally speaking, though, “needing” to drive has absolutely nothing to do with being able to win back a license that was revoked for multiple DUI’s.
This is critically important, and something the reader must know to protect him or herself.
Think about getting your driver’s license in the first place; did you need to show the Michigan Secretary of State that you needed to drive? Do you need to show that you need a hunting or fishing or RV license? Of course not. To get any kind of license, a person must simply meet the legal criteria, not have any “need” for the privilege being sought.
In the context of winning license appeal cases, those criteria focus solely on a person being able to prove he or she has quit drinking, and is a safe bet to never drink again. By extension, that means that he or she is no longer a risk to ever drive drunk again. To understand this, let me reprint the relevant part of the main rule (Rule 13) from the laws that govern license appeals, and then, below that, explain, in simple terms, what it all really 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.
Now, let’s break this down a bit further:
First, note how the VERY FIRST SENTENCE of that main rule mandates that the hearing officer deciding the case NOT issue a license, unless the person who files the case, proves certain things by what is next defined as “clear and convincing evidence.”
This is critically important, and it’s overlooked by just about everyone, and especially the “McLicense” lawyers. This is the ONLY law I’ve ever seen that begins with a negative instruction. Every other law is written in neutral terms. For example, to convict someone of a crime, the prosecutor must prove his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
To win a lawsuit, a person must prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that he or she must “tip the scales” in his or her favor.
The rule governing driver’s license appeal cases COULD HAVE stated that the hearing officer shall issue a license if the person proves his or her case by that “clear and convincing evidence” standard – but it doesn’t.
Instead, it stands out from all other laws by informing the world that the answer to every license appeal starts at “no,” and that the answer stays that way UNLESS the person proves certain things by “clear and convincing evidence.”
This means we have 3 major legal issues interacting here, and building upon each other.
First, as we just noted, the hearing officer is required to DENY an appeal, unless the person proves certain things (we’ll get to those shortly) by what is next defined as “clear and convincing evidence.”
What does that mean?
Simply put, “clear and convincing evidence” is very much like “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” It is the highest standard of proof in civil law, and much higher than the “preponderance of the evidence” required to win a lawsuit.
In everyday terms, proving something by “clear and convincing evidence” is about the same thing as hitting a home run in baseball. It means that when a case is presented, the hearing officer cannot be left with any unanswered questions. In essence, it means you go in an CRUSH IT.
Anything less isn’t enough to support a winning license appeal.
Before we can move on, the reader needs to understand another critical fact, unknown even to those lawyers who don’t concentrate in driver’s license appeal cases. Under Michigan law, any person who racks up 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 DUI’s within 10 years, is automatically categorized as a “habitual alcohol offender.” There’s a lot to this than just a name, however, and that’s what’s so important.
A legal consequence of being a “habitual alcohol offender” is that the person is PRESUMED, BY LAW, to have an alcohol and/or substance abuse problem. This is huge. It means that the starting point for every driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case is that a person DOES HAVE some kind of issue with alcohol and/or drugs.
A lot of people don’t fully get this, nor do most lawyers. The idea isn’t that someone is a raging alcoholic, but rather that, simply because they’ve racked up 2 or more DUI’s, drinking is risky for him or her. At that point, the law is basically saying, “We’re done taking chances. The only way we’ll give you a license is if you can show us that you’ve quit drinking for good.”
No matter what, anyone who drinks alcohol is some kind of risk to drive drunk. By contrast, people who don’t drink are exactly ZERO risk to do that.
Now, with that as our backdrop here’s a bit of good news – for as complicated as all that legal terminology in the rule may sound, what needs to be proven by “clear and convincing evidence” can really be boiled down to 2 simple things:
1. That the person’s alcohol and/or substance problems (remember, by virtue of being a habitual alcohol offender, the existence of such problem is legally presumed) are “under control.” In the context of a license appeal case, “under control” means that a person has been completely abstinent from alcohol and any other substances (including recreational marijuana) for a legally sufficient period of time. Obviously, someone with 5, 6, or 7 DUI’s will need more clean time than someone with just 2.
2. That the person’s alcohol and/or substance problems are “likely to remain under control.” This means that a person can demonstrate both the ability and commitment to remain alcohol and substance free permanently. In other words, the person must prove that he or she has what it takes to remain completely abstinent (as in sober) for life.
Not only must a person prove that he or she has truly quit drinking and using any drugs, but also that he or she has what it takes to stay quit. Remember, though, “prove” doesn’t just mean saying so, it means meeting that “clear and convincing evidence” standard, that, as we noted, amounts to hitting a home run. Remember, we said that basically amounts to crushing it.
I have written about this hundreds and hundreds of times, precisely because it’s so important. The reader will find a lot of the same language in many of my articles. My team and I can recite all of this from memory. To use the phrase again, that’s how things should work.
How, then, could a lawyer could know this, yet not be able to guarantee his or her work? There are only 2 answers to that question:
1. The lawyer doesn’t really know this, and therefore doesn’t fully comprehend why some of his or her license appeal cases win, and other lose, or
2. The lawyer DOES know this, but can’t or won’t turn away an offer of money.
Neither of those is a good option for the potential client. Anyone looking for legal help for a license appeal has to protect his or her own interests. This should start with a guarantee. For most legal matters, there can’t be anything like a guarantee. Michigan driver’s license appeal cases are different, however.
Frankly, a person should never even consider hiring any lawyer who won’t guarantee his or her work. Either a lawyer knows what it takes to win the license appeal cases he or she takes, or not. If he or she does, then there should be no hesitation, ability or integrity-wise, to guarantee success.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how hard the lawyer tries, or how much one “needs” to drive: All license appeal cases either win or lose. As was stated at the beginning of this piece, “You either get your license back, or not.”
When it comes to winning license appeal cases, nobody does it better than our firm. We are and have long been the “big dog” in this field. Anyone needing a lawyer for a driver’s license restoration case needs to watch out for the ever-growing crop of “McLicense lawyers” who have popped up in this field.
The simplest way to begin separating out those who are serious contenders for your money is to look for a guarantee. No guarantee should equal “no way.” Then, a person has to compare and contrast. The best way to do that is to read around and look for real information.
This blog is a great place to start. It is fully searchable, and updated weekly with new, original content. To-date, I have written and published more than 680 articles in the driver’s license restoration section. The reader can find more useful information here than anywhere else, but don’t take my word for it – check for yourself.
If you’re looking for a lawyer to win back your license or clear a Michigan hold on your driving record so that you can obtain a license in another state, be a wise consumer and DO read around.
Once you’ve done enough reading, start calling around. You can learn a lot by speaking with a live person, and that’s what you’ll get if you contact our office.
Our firm can take your case no matter where you live, and can handle every part of it either remotely, or in-person, as you prefer. The Secretary of State now conducts ALL license hearings remotely, over the Microsoft ‘Teams’ platform, so a person doesn’t even have to leave home for his or her hearing. Some of our clients, though, choose to come to our office and sit with us.
For our part, we’re happy to accommodate whatever a person chooses.
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’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.