To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal, a person must be genuinely sober. In our roles as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we know that when it comes to the word “sober,” there are 3 kinds of people: Those who pretend to be sober (thinking they can win a license appeal this way), those who think they’re sober (but don’t understand what sobriety really means), and those who truly are sober. In this article, we’ll look at sobriety in the context of Michigan license appeal cases, because it’s only people in that last group who can win.

2222-300x273If one was to try and boil the driver’s license restoration process into a single (albeit long) sentence, it would be this: To win a license appeal, you must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that you have been alcohol (and drug) free for a legally sufficient period of time, and that you have the ability and commitment to never drink or get high (this includes using recreational marijuana) for the rest of your life. There’s a whole lot packed into that statement, so we will break that all down and explain what it really means in plain English and simple terms.

Let’s start by noting that everything that matters about a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal is either based upon or directly related to sobriety. Here’s a simple way to try and put this in perspective: Anyone who has lost his or her license as the result of multiple prior DUI convictions is seen as “risky” to get another one. The Secretary of State knows one thing for certain – People who don’t drink anymore are exactly zero risk to ever drive drunk again, and, therefore, those are the only people who it will even consider putting back on the road.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I fight hard for our clients in order to get the best outcome in every case we take. Fighting for a client is what a lawyer is paid to do, but in many ways, the idea of what it means to “fight” has lost its real meaning. The goal of any fight should be to win in some way, and not just fight for the sake of fighting (and getting paid for it). Unfortunately, there are too many legal marketing messages that try to make it sound like the more one fights, the more successful he or she can be, and that anything else is not enough. That’s misguided.

vectorstock_18709896-300x300If by “fighting,” someone means NOT rolling over and NOT being spineless, then that’s correct. Unfortunately, for as many lawyers as there are who will charge endless fees to fight everything they can, there are plenty of others who are very much the opposite, and will plead out just about every case they get. Such lawyers “sell out” their clients just as much as the “fight everything” operations fleece theirs. When you think about it logically, it’s obvious that neither choice, by itself, is the right one, and that the best approach is a kind of compromise, falling somewhere in the middle.

In other words, there is almost never any reason to fight everything, nor is there usually any reason to NOT at least fight some things. The notion that one is better served by challenging everything about a DUI charge is so completely wrong it’s hard to know where to begin to explain why. One thing everyone can relate to is cost, but in the context of a DUI case, we’re also talking about the cost of an opportunity. As much as it’s wrong for any lawyer to run headlong into a case merely looking for a plea as a way out, it’s also wrong to be hard-headed and un into the case and squander a chance to produce a better result, just for the sake of fighting.

The absolute key to winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration of clearance appeal is being sober. That means a person must have honestly quit drinking (and using any drugs), and must also possess both the ability and commitment to remain alcohol (and drug) free for life. Being sober does NOT mean that a person merely drinks less, or not as often, or only at home, or only on special occasions, or anything like that. A sober person is someone who has been and intends to remain completely abstinent from alcohol and all drugs, including recreational marijuana.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/12/1.3-300x300.jpgPeople who are sober make it a point to do certain things, and to specifically NOT do other things. This is consistent with an important AA saying for newcomers that’s really solid advice for anyone in early recovery: Avoid wet faces and wet places. In other words, in order to help a person NOT drink – especially early on – he or she should avoid being around people who are drinking (“wet faces”) and stay out of places where people gather to drink (“wet places”). This is something we look for in potential clients as we explore whether they really have quit drinking and are sober – or not.

An important part of our job is to screen potential license appeal applicants to make sure they have the necessary background to succeed. Because our firm guarantees to win every license restoration or clearance appeal case we take, we have to be thorough with our screenings. An important lesson my team and I learned early on (and one that is reinforced on a daily basis), is that lots people don’t fully understand what sobriety really means. Many people think that it can include cutting back on their alcohol consumption or not drinking for a while, but that’s wrong.

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of probation in Michigan DUI cases. We noted that, as a general rule, every person convicted of an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated, the legal term for what everyone just calls “DUI”) offense is going to placed on some kind of probation. Statistically, more than 98% of all DUI cases that make it court in Michigan DO NOT get dismissed, so this means if you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s pretty much a given that you are going to wind up on probation. Exactly what kind of probation, however, can – and will – vary from case to case.

HW3-300x280We closed out the previous installment by discussing the critical importance of the mandatory alcohol screening, something that is part of the larger PSI (Pre-Sentence Investigation) process. The end result of the PSI is a sentencing recommendation, written by the probation officer, and sent to the Judge, advising him or her exactly what kind of sentence to impose. This matters because, in the real world, every Judge follows this recommendation VERY closely, if not to the very letter. In that sense the recommendation is really a blueprint for what’s going to happen.

To be sure, there are some recommended terms of probation that can be modified IF the Judge can be convinced that there is a better option. This, of course, means that it’s the lawyer’s job to find those options, and then successfully persuade the Judge to go along with any proposed modifications. However, there are also some parts of any DUI probation recommendation that are almost universally standard, imposed in every case, and basically non-modifiable. For example, one of the first conditions of probation is so basic, it doesn’t even have to be said: Stay out of trouble.

The end result of almost every Michigan DUI case that goes into the court system (and doesn’t get thrown out) almost alway includes a term of probation. As Michigan DUI lawyers, dealing with probation is an everyday part of our jobs. Most people have a general understanding of probation (“if you don’t screw up, then everything will be okay”), but there’s a lot more to it than that. If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, then you should know what’s likely in store for you. In this 2-part article, we’ll examine how probation works in Michigan DUI cases.

Test-2-297x300Let’s begin with this simple fact: It is overwhelmingly likely that anyone convicted of a Michigan OWI (DUI) offense will be placed on some kind of probation. Contrary to the marketing hype found on some legal websites, the real truth is that more than 98% of all DUI charges brought in Michigan do NOT get dismissed or tossed out of court. Of course, the goal in every case is to get it “knocked out,” but that outcome is the exception, not the rule. In the real world, it boils down to this: If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, then you’re pretty much facing a term of probation, as well.

To put this in perspective, some readers may be old enough to remember hearing about someone convicted of drunk driving who got nothing more than a fine. That may have been possible many years ago, when people could still smoke on airplanes and there were video rental stores in every neighborhood, but a lot has changed since then. The days of only having to pay a fine and costs for a DUI charge are long gone, and everyone who goes though the process is going to have to do something more, although it doesn’t have to be anything that’s truly awful.

As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we use our experience and skill to actually make things better for our clients and produce the best possible outcome for them, whether we’re defending a criminal or DUI charge, or getting someone’s license back. As of this writing, I have published well over 1200 articles examining how things work in criminal, DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, and have explained as much about the legal process as I can. One thing I have not covered yet, however, is the very real element of luck, because it affects every case, and just about everything else we do in life, as well.

vectorstock_20630412-300x300Like so many of my other articles, this one was inspired by a real life case involving a client arrested for DUI in about the toughest jurisdiction here in the Greater-Detroit area. I often write about the importance of location in criminal and DUI cases, because it does directly impact how a case will play out, but the underlying truth is that what really makes one location easier or tougher than another are the prosecutors and Judges who work there. Certain courts are just “tougher” than others, but that tends to follow a kind of general continuum, with the more lenient courts being clustered around each other, and vice-versa.

Another key point I make is that DUI cases are always accidents of geography. Nobody plans to go out and get arrested for drunk driving, and therefore nobody plans their route with any notion of not driving through the toughest jurisdictions and, instead, staying within those that are known to be more “forgiving” in case they get pulled over. And if that’s not enough, add in that there are some multi-Judge courts where the differences between those Judges – meaning specifically how “tough” any one of them is compared to the other(s) – can be very pronounced.

If you’re currently facing a Michigan DUI charge, there is a decent chance that you’ve had your blood taken following arrest. It’s also quite possible that either you also provided a breath test sample, or, in some cases, were just never asked to provide one, and the police went straight for a blood draw, instead. This marks a change from how things used to be done, before Coronavirus arrived. Up until early 2020, if you were arrested for drunk driving, it was very likely that you’d be given a formal breath test at the police or sheriff’s station. Things are different, now, however, and the explosion of blood draws have really slowed the progress of DUI cases into the court system.

popopopo-300x294Until the Coronavirus pandemic hit, about the only time anyone ever had blood taken was if he or she refused to provide a breath test, and the police had to get a warrant for a blood draw. In fact, when someone contacted us and indicated that his or her blood was taken, it pretty much always meant that he or she had refused a breath test. That’s no longer true, and, as of this writing, blood tests are every bit as common, if not MORE common, than breath tests following a DUI arrest, at least here in the Greater-Detroit area, where my team and I concentrate our drinking and driving practice.

One of the most important consequence of this is how it impacts the timing of a DUI case. Blood samples have to be analyzed at a Michigan State Police Crime Lab, and those labs are backed up now more than ever. To be sure, the crime labs have always been busy, but with the recent addition of thousands of blood samples that need to be examined, the backlog has really grown. My team and I deal with this every day, particularly when people call us about a recent DUI arrest. While our first question to any caller is almost always about where the case occurred, our next question usually is, or at least was something like “what were your breath test results?”

The law specifies that, in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, a person must submit proof that meets the “clear and convincing evidence” legal standard. Every license appeal case is decided by a hearing officer, each of whom is a trained professional tasked with evaluating the evidence submitted, listening to what is said, and then concluding whether or not it meets that standard. This installment will tie in to the previous article about how any notion of “you tell me what I need to say” is almost proof-positive that a person is NOT sober, and in no position to win a license appeal.

HOs-2-300x291The inspiration for this piece, like so many others, came from our senior assistant, after another busy day at the office. As we got ready to close up shop one recent afternoon, she remarked that some people mistakenly think they can BS the hearing officers, and that’s because these folks don’t have a clue about the skill those hearing officers bring to their jobs. Unless someone does license appeals for a living, they simply can’t grasp the absolutely central role of the hearing officer, and the depth of experience they have listening to people testify. In the context of a license appeal, that can be a fatal mistake.

It’s critical to understand that, in addition to the key role the hearing officer plays in all of this, he or she does so pursuant to very specific rules, and very clear instructions spelled out in the law. This is huge, but also largely overlooked, and is no doubt one of the reasons that so many license appeals (and especially those of the “do-it-yourself” variety) wind up getting denied. By contrast, our firm GUARANTEES to win every restoration and clearance appeal case we take (more on that later), precisely because we understand the subtleties of the law and rules, and the role of the hearing officer in applying them.

In order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, a person has to say certain things, and as far as that goes, not say other things. As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, our ears are basically “tuned” to pick up on certain buzzwords that clearly communicate to us that a person either has – or has not – given up drinking and embraced a sober lifestyle, 2 things that are key to winning a license appeal. The hearing officers who decide these cases also listen for these things, and are highly skilled at distinguishing genuine and real sobriety from anything less.

vectorstock_1613620-300x293They should be, given that they hear driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals all day, every day. Of course, given that this is also what my team and I do all day, every day, we know exactly what things will cause the hearing officers to respond favorably, and what will have the opposite effect. In our many conversations with callers each day, it’s not that uncommon for a person to say something to us like, “You just tell me what to say, and I can do it,” or “I can say whatever you need me to.” That’s a huge red flag for us, and an almost certain (and unwitting) assurance that the speaker is NOT sober.

That’s also about the fastest way to make sure that our firm won’t take a case. While sobriety is a key requirement to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case, so is honesty. When someone tells us that they’ll repeat anything we instruct them to say, it means that, beyond not being sober, he or she is also willing to BS, and even do so under oath. We don’t want any part of that: We win our cases fair and square by being honest and truthful. We play by the rules, and guarantee to win every case we take precisely because we don’t cut any corners.

Our goal, as Michigan criminal, driver’s license restoration and DUI lawyers, is to produce the best results possible in every case we take while being fair and honest. We are a premium service law firm, and therefore don’t compete with any other lawyers or law firms on price. However, we are the ONLY law firm that actually lists its prices, and also the only one that talks about money, as I’m going to do here. Frankly, I cannot understand why the subject of cost is treated like some big secret, especially because it’s such an important part of hiring a lawyer.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2021/11/2.3-300x270.jpgThere are 2 important things about money and legal services worth noting, and they’re like opposite sides of the same coin: First – you will never get what you don’t pay for when you hire a lawyer. Experienced, skilled and talented lawyers will never compete to be the most “affordable.” The better class of anything is never cheap. Second, it is an unfortunate fact that too many attorneys charge far more than their representation is worth. It’s much easier to wind up paying too much for an average, mediocre lawyer than to get any kind of “deal” for top-notch legal services.

Our firm hasn’t raised prices for almost 2 years (since November 19, 2019, to be exact), but recent cost increases have left us with no other choice. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused just about everything to go up in price, and the expense of that has reached our door, as well. In addition, we’ve added staff to our team, so our overhead costs have grown, and we had to offset some of that by increasing our fees. In this article, I want to explain why it had to be done, and to talk about legal fees in the context of criminal, driver’s license restoration and DUI cases.

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