One of the more common things we hear when people call us about restoring their driver’s license is a clear sense of frustration about the need to go through the whole appeal process. In this article, I want to address the mindset of those who think and say things like “this isn’t fair” and/or “I don’t deserve this.” While those feelings are always understandable (and sometimes accurate, as well), it will be far more helpful to provide a simple explanation of the how the law functions in order to clarify what can (and can’t) be done, and when, to get someone’s license back.

Board2-300x265As a preliminary matter, the reader should note that we are a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm, and we only make money by taking cases, not by turning them away. I point this out because, while some of the Secretary of State’s rules governing license appeals may legitimately seem to drive some unfair results, my team and I don’t make those rules; we have to work within them. Sometimes, when we explain to a person why we can’t take his or her case because of how things work, their frustration will boil over, and they’ll say something like “this is bull$hit!”

The problem with that kind of thinking is that it overlooks the fact that anyone who has had his or her license revoked for multiple DUI’s needs to bear in mind that they didn’t wind up in this situation by accident. Plenty of people try to explain that, despite their own record of DUI’s, they know somebody who has driven drunk way more, but not been caught, or someone who supposedly lied their way through the license appeal process and won, but still drinks. Even if those things are true, they’re not arguments that will help win your license back. In fact, that kind of talk will get you denied faster than anything.

If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, it’s as good a time as any to stop and take a look at your relationship to alcohol. This isn’t going to be some “hit piece” about drinking, nor is it going to suggest that just because you got a 1st offense DUI you should quit drinking, or go to AA, or even counseling. Instead, what we’re going to do is talk about the idea of self-assessing your drinking behavior, even if you only drink once in a while, to make sure that you’re not overlooking anything.

vectorstock_27464542-300x264The kind of analysis we’re talking about here is only applicable in 1st offense DUI cases. Under Michigan law, anyone convicted of a 2nd or 3rd offense DUI will legally categorized as a habitual alcohol offender, and will, as a consequence, be presumed to have some kind of drinking problem. Beyond those legal implications, and as a practical matter, pretty much the whole world, including everyone in the court system, simply assumes that any repeat DUI offender at least has some kind of risky relationship to alcohol, even if that person rarely drinks.

In 1st offense cases, though, the question is far more one of risk, and measuring that risk. There is a solid reason for this, as numerous studies have shown that people who get just a single DUI in their lifetime have a statistically higher rate of drinking problems than the population at large. In other words, as a group, drivers who have never had a DUI have few drinking problems than drivers who have had a DUI. This is important for a number of reasons, some of which we’ll examine below.

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, my team and I deal with all the legal requirements a person must meet in order to win his or her license back. That’s part of our job, as is explaining it to the people who call us about getting back on the road. In this article, we’re going to take a step back, simplify things and look at license appeals from as non-technical a perspective as possible. In that way, an easy way to begin this discussion it to say that, in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal case, you have to essentially hit a home run.

KISS4-300x267Because the way Michigan law works, if you’ve had your license revoked for racking up multiple DUI’s, then you are presumed to have a drinking problem. If you disagree with that, then you’re stuck in a holding pattern, because the license appeal rules require that you prove, by what is specified as “clear and convincing evidence” (we have to get technical here) that you have honestly quit drinking, and are a safe bet to never drink again. Put another way, you have to prove that you are sober, and have both the ability and the commitment to remain sober for life.

In a very real way, we could just leave it there, as there’s not a whole lot more to the process. However (and this is somewhat ironic), it’s the follow-up questions and concerns that people have that require more detailed explanations. A significant percentage of people will read (or be told) what’s in the previous paragraph and have all kinds of questions that start with phrases like, “What about…?” Many will explain how much they need to drive, and argue that their situation should be seen as some kind of exception, and that the rules shouldn’t fully apply to them.

If you’re facing a Michigan DUI charge, beyond just worrying about what’s going to happen, you no doubt have a lot of other feelings, as well, including anger about the whole situation. Although someone may wonder if it’s wrong to think this way (it’s not), many people do feel things like “This doesn’t seem fair,” and “I don’t deserve this.” Whatever else, feelings are facts, and in this article, we’re going to look at why feelings are important, and how some of them can have either a positive or negative impact on the outcome of your DUI case.

Scale2-300x288It’s normal for a person to get mad about being caught up in a DUI. This this can include anger at one’s self, but also with the police, and the whole legal system, as well. When an otherwise law-abiding person gets put in handcuffs, placed in the back a police car, and then taken to jail, it’s humiliating. Suddenly, someone who would never hurt anyone or steal a penny feels like he or she is being treated like a common criminal. It’s only natural to think something like, “instead of arresting me, maybe the police should have been out looking for burglars or rapists or car thieves or whatever…”

Although a DUI is a criminal offense, the overwhelming majority of people arrested for drunk driving are NOT criminals in any real sense of the word. Here, we need to understand the normalcy of all these feelings, but also realize that, while they’re okay to discuss within the confines of the attorney-client relationship, or among family and friends, expressing them to anyone in the court system can adversely affect the outcome of your case. There are numerous truths in life that, for various reasons, we just can’t complain about publicly.

In our capacity as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we have a love-hate relationship with “do-it-yourself” driver’s license restoration and clearance appeals. On the one hand, we love them because half of more of the people who hire us do so after having tried and lost on their own. On the other hand, we hate them because there is often extra work we have to do to repair what caused the case to be denied in the first place. Of course, none of this “repair work” would have been necessary had the person hired us, but, as the old saying goes, “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

DIY2-300x260That said, the reader may expect this article to try and dissuade him or her from trying a “do-it-yourself” license appeal, but it won’t. Although there are plenty of reasons why a person would be far better served by hiring our firm right out of the gate, the simple fact is that we’re always going to be here, and there really aren’t that many reasons why a person inclined to try handling his or her own case shouldn’t do just that. In other words, if you want to take a shot at doing your own license appeal, then, by all means, go for it!

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there is very much a self-serving interest in me saying “go for it,” because the vast majority of people who try on their own won’t succeed. Afterwards, many will call us, and we have learned through our decades of experience that these folks make great clients, because they don’t have to be “sold” on anything. Instead, having already been through the process, only to be denied, they’ll phone our office and the most important question they’ll have is how soon we can get started on their next appeal.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, an important part of what team and I do everyday is address the concerns people have following a drunk driving arrest. Everyone with whom we speak is understandably worried about what will happen to them. Some people become extremely nervous, and it certainly doesn’t help that so many lawyer’s websites hype things up by using fear-based marketing to hawk their services. In this article, we’re going to flip that around, because some people are inclined to overthink their DUI and panic unnecessarily.

vectorstock_36314541-copy-300x300Let’s begin with a conclusion, and work from there: A DUI is nothing to laugh at, but it’s also NOT the end of your world, either. When handled properly, a 1st offense DUI charge can be made into more of an expense, and an inconvenience, rather than anything else. Of course, the court wants to make sure it’s a memorable inconvenience, but the real intention of the law is really to teach someone a lesson to not drive drunk again without ruining his or her life. As DUI lawyers, my team and I believe we have a moral obligation to make this clear and calm people’s fears, rather than play on them.

Of course, it can be profitable for some attorneys when people get all freaked out about a DUI charge and rush to hire a lawyer, in the much the same way that it’s good for business when people have furnace problems in the middle of winter and need a heating and cooling (HVAC) professional. However, the kind professional you need should never capitalize upon or exploit your fear. That’s taking advantage of someone, and it’s morally wrong at every level. In the context of a Michigan DUI case, the good news is most of the fear a person has about what’s going to happen is misplaced, because things will work out.

To win a Michigan driver’s license restoration case, you must first be genuinely sober, and then you have to prove it within the Secretary of State’s governing rules. For as complex as the appeal process can be, winning your license back really boils down to those 2 things. These are not separate requirements. Instead, proving that you’re sober is first dependent upon actually being sober. The proofs required to win your license back go directly to whether or not a person has genuinely quit drinking, and then taken the necessary actions to remain permanently alcohol free.

dl2-275x300Perhaps the biggest mistake people make is thinking they can just say the right things to win a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal. While a person must really be sober and present evidence to support his or her claims, the whole point of the legal process is for the Michigan Secretary of State to verify if they are true, or not. The hearing officers who decide these cases know that people will try every trick in the book, and they expect to hear everything, all the way from gentle BS to outright fabrications. An important part of the hearing officer’s job is to put everything a person submits, both in his or her documents and through testimony, to the test.

This is where we can really see the inherent connection between actually being sober and proving it. You simply can’t prove the existence of something that is not true. In practice, that doesn’t stop loads of people from trying to convince the hearing officer that they’ve quit drinking, but as noted above, those hearing officers come in each day, expecting people to try and feed them a line of BS. Over time, the hearing officers develop a keen expertise for being able to distinguish real sobriety from anything less.

If you are facing an indecent exposure or aggravated indecent exposure charge, you are no doubt experiencing a strong mix of emotions, including profound embarrassment and outright fear. Because my team and I handle so many indecent and aggravated indecent exposure cases, we truly understand how freaked out a person can feel when going through one, and we genuinely believe that an important part of our job is to help ease our client’s anxiety, and especially his worries over consequences that aren’t going to happen – like jail.

vectorstock_1260655-copy-256x300Over the course of more than 3 decades, NOT ONE of the hundreds and hundreds of indecent and aggravated indecent exposure clients we have represented has ever gone to jail. As we’ll see, though, keeping a client out of jail is relatively easy because it is not the biggest threat he faces in an IE case (note that we’ll use the term “IE” to refer to either or both indecent and aggravated indecent exposure throughout this piece). Instead, the most significant risk a person faces is being required to enroll in and complete a long and difficult program of counseling for the treatment of sexual deviancies and criminal sexual offenders.

That can be a nightmare, because most IE offenders do not have any kind of deep-seated sexual deviancy, nor are they otherwise inclined to become sexual predators or repeat offenders. The court system will always (and, as we’ll also see, understandably) take a “better safe than sorry” approach, but there are few things worse than having to essentially go through treatment for a problem you don’t have, and especially one aimed at sex offenders. Avoiding that is key in an IE case, but doing so requires an intelligent and proactive defense strategy.

Dealing with a DUI charge can seem all-consuming. There is a legal process that must be followed, and for a while, it can feel as if it’s taken over your life. As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I accompany our clients through every step of this whole journey, so we know how draining it can be. In this article, I want to highlight the good news – that this situation doesn’t last forever, and that, no matter how strong the case against you may be, with some intelligent planning, you can put it behind you, and not let it define you. That may sound “cheesy,” but, fortunately, it’s also true.

Who6-287x300From the moment a person is pulled over, or has that first police contact, everything they deal with thereafter seems to be DUI-related. It’s almost like he or she has become the filler in a Michigan DUI burrito, and are all “wrapped up” in it. We’ll get into more specifics later, but for anyone facing a 1st offense DUI charge, this is likely to last at least 15 months, from point of his or her arrest until every the very last day of his or her probation. During that time, a person can experience a whole range of feelings, including anger, resentment (“I don’t deserve this!”) all the way to simple fatigue, and wonder if life will ever get back to normal.

For the most part, it will. Of course, a better defense strategy can make that happen sooner, and more completely. At the end of the day, though, assuming your DUI is the result of a simple lapse in judgment and isn’t a symptom of a deeper problem, you should pretty much be able to move past it completely unharmed. This is not some “hire me” lawyer sales-pitch, either, because the way to do this begins with you, and requires adjusting your mindset. The best lawyer in the world can help, but unless you are willing to do your part, his or her efforts won’t amount to very much.

In our work as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers who handle over 200 license matters per year, we deal with a LOT of ignition interlock violation issues. This article has one simple goal: to make clear that anyone who tests positive for alcohol should IMMEDIATELY go and get a PBT test, or, if more than an hour has passed, then get an EtG urine test. The inspiration for it came about as the result of a recent conversation with one of my associate lawyers about common interlock problems that we see almost daily.

PBT4-291x300This isn’t going to be a “hit piece” on the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS), but the simple fact is that the SOS fails to make crystal clear what a person is expected to after a positive test result. To be sure, some guidance is provided: Within every order granting a driver’s license restoration appeal is a section called “Proper Interlock Use,” but as we’ll see, the Secretary of State could be a lot more specific, especially in light of what the hearing officers look for when they are deciding an ignition interlock violation case, or even when reviewing a final report for someone who has filed an appeal for a full license.

This applies to anyone on an interlock who blows into his or her BAIID and gets a positive result. Instead of its supposed “guidance,” the Secretary of State should provide clear and direct instructions. In light of that omission, here is what you need to know: If you EVER provide a positive breath sample, you should immediately go to the nearest police station, sheriff’s department, or state police post and get a PBT (portable breath test). As we’ll see, there are other things you can do, but there is NOTHING that’s as good as getting a timely PBT test, and “timely,” as used here, means right away, not an hour or more later.

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