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Driver’s License Restoration and Clearance cases are well-suited to start over the phone, and the “down time” many people have now is a good opportunity to begin this process.

Our consultations have ALWAYS been free, confidential, and done over the phone, right when you call. We are very friendly people who will be glad to explain things and answer your questions, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (EST).

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we genuinely understand the emotional toil that facing a DUI can take on a person. Over the span of 30 years, and throughout thousands of cases, I have listened to the concerns and worries people have as they go through the DUI process. None of our clients ever imagined themselves in this situation, and many of them are a bit freaked out about having been arrested for drunk driving, and worried even more about having to go to court to deal with a criminal charge that carries a potential jail sentence.

Arrest2-300x290It’s important to begin by pointing out that jail is highly unlikely in a 1st offense DUI case, so if that’s your big worry, then take a deep breath right now and relax. Consequently, it’s really a waste of time to go looking for some lawyer who positions him or her self to “save” you from getting locked up when that’s not really on the menu in the first place. Moreover, any lawyer who would knowingly let a person fear incarceration when it’s so improbable is either dangerously inexperienced, or dangerously dishonest. Either way, that kind of lawyer should be avoided like the plague.

In a somewhat recent, 4-part article, I explored the relevance of a phrase often used by our senior assistant, that a DUI is about your drinking, not your driving, and examined why, in drunk driving cases, the courts are more concerned about a person’s relationship to alcohol than anything else. I wanted to make clear there that the court’s goal is to ensure that anyone who gets a 1st DUI never gets another. In this piece, I want to change the perspective to our point of view, as DUI attorneys, and share some insights to help anyone going through a DUI make it a true “one and done.”

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we spend a lot of our time explaining things and clearing up people’s misconceptions about how the license appeal process works. One of the most common misunderstandings that we run into is that you need to be in AA to win a license appeal. In this article, I want to make clear that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE IN AA TO WIN A MICHIGAN DRIVER’S LICENSE RESTORATION OR CLEARANCE CASE, and also correct the completely mistaken idea that someone who currently is not should start going to AA “to make it look good.”

SoberXX-250x300To win a Michigan Secretary of State driver’s license appeal, you have to prove 2 things, by what the state defines as clear and convincing evidence: First, that your alcohol problem is “under control, meaning that you haven’t had a drink for a “legally sufficient” period of time (in our office, we generally want at least 18 months’ clean time before we’ll move forward), and, second, that it is “likely to remain under control,” which requires showing that you have both the ability and commitment to remain clean and sober for life. In other words, you have to prove that you have given up drinking for good and are really a safe bet to never drink again.

The simple fact is that most people do manage to maintain their sobriety without AA. Of course, some in that program will say differently, but even by its own accounts, AA has a long-term success rate of between 3 and 8%, with most experts pegging it at around 5%. Because it was basically the first real “treatment” for alcoholism, people think of AA the in the same branded way they thing of other “first” products, like Kleenex and Windex. The truth, however, is that AA is just one kind of many recovery methods, just like Kleenex is one kind of facial tissue, and Windex is one kind of glass cleaner.

As full-time Michigan DUI lawyers, we are regularly contacted by people facing 2nd offense DUI charges. In a recent article, I noted that sobriety court is an option that should be considered by anyone in that situation. One of the main points I made there was in order to be a candidate for sobriety court, a person has to really believe that, at least to some extent, his or her drinking has become a problem. Michigan law, for its part, automatically concludes that all 2nd offenders have some kind of issue with drinking, and that will be the focus of this piece.

vectorstock_24438343-295x300The inspiration for this article came from an email we received some time ago. I’ve waited a solid year before reprinting it in order for the case to resolve. It is reprinted below, exactly as it was received, except that I have redacted any potentially personally identifying information. The email highlights a real divide my team and I encounter among 2nd offenders: Some people come forward, either knowing, or at least open to the idea that drinking has caused them too much trouble, while others don’t even give their use of alcohol a second thought, and just consider themselves unlucky for picking up their 2nd DUI.

As I will explain, examining a 2nd offender’s relationship to alcohol is absolutely crucial to producing the best results possible in his or her DUI case, although it’s all too frequently ignored outright by many legal websites. This goes to another subject I often write about – the idea that people can often be swayed by what they want to hear, rather than listening to what they need to hear. Although some people who wind up facing a 2nd offense DUI may not be very interested in looking at their drinking, they’ll soon enough learn that’s exactly what the court is going to do.

Most people don’t start digging for information about having problems with ignition interlock devices until they’ve actually run into one. In previous articles, I have examined all kinds of interlock issues, like missed rolling retests, positive test results and “tamper/circumvent” violations, and I will link to some of them throughout this piece. Our focus in this installment, though, will to be much wider, and, instead of concentrating on the mechanics of the interlock, will instead zero in on why a person needs to take the whole thing seriously, and how attitude is everything.

vectorstock_24372941-300x300Like so many other of my articles, this installment is based on the real-life experience my team and I have as a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm. There are certain things in life that just don’t make sense, and one we have to contend with quite often is that, despite our instructions to our clients who have to use an ignition interlock, and in addition to the clear and explicit directions from the Secretary of State about how to properly operate the device, many people just skip over the details, being satisfied instead to only merely the very basics of how to use it.

Unfortunately, the interlock is not one of those things that will generally work out very well in the long run if someone’s understanding of it doesn’t go much farther than what’s in the “quick start” guide. This goes as much to a person’s attitude rather as anything else, because a person must never lose sight of the fact that a primary purpose of the interlock is for the Secretary of State to keep an eye on them. If that happens, they’re very likely to run into problems later on, because being on an interlock is really a kind of “probation” for anyone who wins back a Michigan driver’s license.

An inevitable and significant part of being Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers is that we handle a lot of suspended license cases. Driving while license suspended (DWLS) is one of, if not THE most common criminal charges processed through the local district courts of the Metro-Detroit area (meaning Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties). Depending on a variety of factors, the impact of a DWLS on a person’s life can range anywhere from a minor expense all the way to a major setback.

vectorstock_11956725-300x300Here’s the good news: For most people, a DWLS charge is something that, if addressed promptly and properly, can be resolved rather painlessly. Although far from any kind of hard and fast rule, it’s often the case that clients who worry the most about a suspended license charge are those who have the least to fear, while those who take things lightly have the most to lose. It’s not uncommon for 1st or 2nd time DWLS offenders to freak out over the potential legal consequences, while those with a lot of prior suspended license convictions (and who has never done any jail time for them) aren’t very worried at all.

A big and common problem with suspended license cases is that people often tend to keep racking up one after another, and therefore keep getting their licenses suspended further and further into the future. It’s not that hard for a person to get stuck on a kind of treadmill of never being able to regain a valid license because they keep get caught driving with a suspended license. Before they can ever reinstate their license, they then pick up a new DWLS case, only to get suspended again, for even longer, creating an almost never-ending cycle. Wash, rinse, repeat.

To keep this subject at the top of the heap, I find it necessary to regularly write and post about the “no drinking” requirement to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. An email that recently came into our office illustrates why this is so, and to help make my point in this article, I’ll reprint it below. However, before we get to that, let’s first go over what a person must do – and prove – to win a license appeal.

Beerhander-300x256Under Michigan law, the only way a  person who has had his or her license revoked for multiple DUI’s can get it back is by filing and then winning a formal driver’s license restoration appeal with the Michigan Secretary of State after he or she becomes eligible. To succeed, a person must prove 2 things, by what the law defines as clear and convincing evidence: First, that his or her alcohol problem is “under control,” and, second, that it is “likely to remain under control.” Let’s look at what that actually means:

In the context of a license appeal, a drinking problem is considered “under control” when a person has been completely abstinent from alcohol for a legally sufficient period of time. In our office, we generally require at least 18 months of sober time before we’ll move forward with a license reinstatement case. An alcohol problem is considered “likely to remain under control” when a person can demonstrate both the ability and the commitment to remain alcohol-free (and drug-free) for life.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we deal with a lot of 2nd offense and 3rd offense DUI cases. In our conversations with clients facing those charges, my team and I always explore any options they may have for admission into a sobriety court. The key goal of this article is to provide a short and sweet overview of sobriety courts. Because this subject is rather deep, however, it was no small task to boil things down into a single installment, as I’ve done here.

Help2-300x280Although each one is unique, a “sobriety court” is a regular court that has an officially sanctioned treatment program component for alcohol and/or substance abuse disorders. Although similar to an “adult treatment court” or a “drug court,” a sobriety court is a special kind of program designated by the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) to not only offer counseling, treatment, and support, but also confers upon a Judge the power to override the Michigan Secretary of State’s mandatory revocation of a person’s driver’s license and grant a restricted license.

The primary aim of a sobriety court is to offer a wide range of otherwise expensive counseling and treatment options at little to no cost to someone who wants help with his or her relationship to alcohol (and/or drugs). The idea behind this is that anyone who is racking up multiple DUI offenses has some kind of problem, and anyone who is willing to do something about it should be offered assistance, rather than punishment. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that a sincere desire for help is a prerequisite for admission into a sobriety court program.

If you win your license back through a Michigan driver’s license restoration appeal, you will almost certainly be required to drive on restrictions – with an ignition interlock unit – for one full year before you can appeal for full driving privileges. Although the law does not specifically require that anyone who wins a license appeal must start off with an interlock and/or a restricted license, it is standard practice that everyone does just that.

vectorstock_12506221-300x300And to be clear, by “everyone,” I mean that 99.9% of all people who win the restoration of their driver’s license will be required to start out with both an interlock unit and a restricted license. Our focus in this piece will be on the restoration of a Michigan driver’s license. A restoration occurs when someone who still resides in Michigan obtains the reinstatement of his or her license. This is different than a clearance case, where someone who does not or no longer lives here seeks the removal of  a Michigan hold on his or her driving record so that he or she can get (or renew) a license in their new state.

The Michigan Secretary of State has full licensing authority over all Michigan residents. In that capacity, it has what amounts to an unwritten policy that nearly everyone who wins his or her license back after having had it revoked for multiple DUI’s will have to prove themselves for a solid year before they’ll be considered for full and unrestricted driving privileges. The interlock and restricted license requirements have been the status quo for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been practicing law for 30-plus years, as of this writing.

In numerous other articles, I have noted that the substance use evaluation (SUE) is really the foundation of a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. While true, that’s also a rather general observation, because there is actually a specific section of the SUE that is really critical to the outcome of a license appeal: the prognosis. The importance of the prognosis cannot be overstated, as it is the evaluator’s professional judgment about how likely the subject is to remain alcohol-free for life.

vectorstock_3360957-281x300This is important, because winning a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal requires a person to prove that he or she has not consumed any alcohol (or drugs) for a legally “sufficient” period of time (our firm typically requires a client to have at least 18 months’ of clean time before we’ll move forward with a case) and that they have both the ability and the commitment to never drink again. In that sense, the evaluator’s prognosis is really the main point and “bottom line” of a substance use evaluation.

A person MUST have a favorable prognosis in order to win a license appeal, but, like so much else involved in these cases, there is a lot more to all of this, and much of it is rather subtle. That brings us to the real point of this article: a prognosis must be good enough to win, but when it seems too good to be true, it’s no good at all. This most often becomes an issue when an evaluator gives someone an “excellent” prognosis. It may seem counter-intuitive, but a prognosis of “excellent” can often be a problem, rather than a good thing.

As a busy Michigan driver’s license restoration practice, our law firm is contacted every day by people interested in pursing a license appeal. Many of them find us online, see the volume of information we have put up about the driver’s license restoration process, read about our win-guarantee, and then call us, ready to pay and get started. What a lot of people miss, though, is that our guarantee not only protects the client from losing his or her money with us, it also protects us from taking and then getting stuck with a case that can’t win.

Ohhh222-300x260Our firm is in a position where we could really cash in if we didn’t have the integrity to NOT merely tell people what they want to hear and, instead, took every case that came out way. Everyone who calls our office wants to us to tell them that we win their license back, and we’d sure love to do just that. It would be easy to just agree with people when they explain how much they need to be able to drive again, and then take their retainers. An exploding practice fueled by happy people gladly paying our fees? What could be better than that?

However, my team and I are guided by conscience, and live by the Golden Rule to treat others as we would wish to be treated. We follow the mantra “do the right thing.” For us, that means telling people what they need to hear, and not just what they want to hear. Sure, being honest and not taking the cases that can’t win does costs us a lot of money, but it’s the right thing to do. We assume that when people call us, even though they want to hear that we can win their license back right away, they don’t want us to just say so – unless it’s true.

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