As a law firm that concentrates in Michigan driver’s license restoration and DUI cases, my team and I have a rather unique skill set that give us a better understanding of how an OWI charge (and especially in 2nd and 3rd offense DUI’s) can and/or will affect a person’s driver’s license. Indeed, precisely because of our knowledge and daily experience with driver’s license law, we are often specially able a develop an effective strategy to help “save” the license for a client who might otherwise lose it in a DUI case.

vectorstock_21799652-300x300Of course, this really works both ways: our experience as DUI lawyers is also very helpful to us in our handling of driver’s license restoration cases, as well. I have always described our practice as looking like a Q-tip – with DUI cases on one side, driver’s license restoration cases on the other, and the “stick” in the middle joining them together being alcohol. While some of the specific laws governing DUI cases and driver’s license restoration appeals are distinct, the 2 legal areas are also very much inter-related, and experience with each one  provides a distinct advantage when dealing with the other.

To be sure, there is a lot that goes into properly handling a DUI case. Some of these things are more obvious, like knowing how to appropriately analyze and challenge evidence, utilizing the right legal strategy to produce the best case outcome, and understanding the development, diagnosis and treatment of alcohol problems. Less obvious is how a working knowledge of driver’s license restoration law should be part of the legal strategy in any DUI case, and how this can all come full circle, so that what’s done (and not done) in the matter can be helpful to person’s driver’s license situation.

One thing that defines our practice, as Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, is the way we manage every facet of the license appeal process that we handle. We do this as a quality control measure, because we guarantee to win every restoration and clearance case we take. The fact is that our firm makes its money winning our cases the first time around, not having to come back and do everything all over again, for free, as warranty work. The key to our success is rather simple: We make sure everything is done right before an appeal is ever filed.

Carrie-300x294This is particularly true with regards to the substance use evaluation (SUE), which, in many ways, is really the foundation of a license appeal. A problem with the evaluation can completely derail what would have otherwise been a winning case. Often overlooked is the fact that an evaluation is really only as good as the evaluator who completes it. This is why we send all of our clients OUR evaluator. No matter what, anyone who hires us is going to have his or her SUE completed by that evaluator, so we know that everything will be done properly, and to our standards.

Our office works extensively with one primary evaluator. Within the 7 days preceding the writing of this article, we exchanged 24 separate emails with her, many with multiple replies back and forth. In that same week, we’ve also had countless phone conversations with her, including one she and I had well after 10 p.m., while I was out for a late-night dinner run. It’s these regular exchanges that helps my team and I learn about relevant clinical issues, and our evaluator to keep up with the ever-changing legal requirements involved in license appeals.

As Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we spend the majority of our working lives handling OWI and license reinstatement cases for people. As attorneys, it’s our job to wrestle with the nuances of the law, and deal with the countless technical things that can make or break a case. Most often, that means helping a client fix some kind of mistake or mistakes they’ve made on this journey called life. The point of this article is to help someone get through that kind of rough patch and not make things worse, or otherwise more complicated than they need to be.

vectorstock_28536718-copy-300x226This can sometimes be a problem when it comes to the intrinsically connected areas of Michigan DUI law and driver’s license restoration and clearance cases, because both involve situations where people are emotionally invested. Every person arrested for a DUI is understandably concerned about what will happen to him or her, and everyone who has lost their license for multiple DUI’s really wants to get it back as soon as possible, because it’s hard to get along without one.

The internet is full of misleading and outright wrong information about the law, and that can stress a person out as he or she tries to sort through it. Despite that, and human nature being what it is, some people can’t resist plowing through website after website, and getting themselves more confused than when they started. Others read just enough to wind up thinking they they’ve actually learned something, when, in fact, all they’ve done is become misinformed, thereby proving the old adage that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

As Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyers, we earn our livings by getting people back on the road. However, winning a license appeal is all about proving certain, specific things, and no amount of money can overcome those requirements. One of the more unfortunate things we encounter, as we explain the license restoration process to people, is that some think the only thing that stands between them and driving again is just paying legal fees. In this article, I want to make clear that a person really has to earn – and cannot simply buy – his or her license back.

Money2-300x271Plenty of people feel a sense of frustration when they find out that, in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case, they not only have to be sober, but they also have to prove it, as well (more on that later). Many of them find our site, or this blog, see the more than 600 driver’s license restoration articles I have published so far, and think, “this is the firm I need!” While that’s flattering, the fact is that a person has to meet certain criteria in order to win a formal driver’s license restoration appeal, and no amount of money can get him or her past that.

For example, it’s often the case that, before a person can adopt a dog from an animal shelter, he or she has to demonstrate the ability to care for it. In other words, a person can’t just run in with a wallet full of money and “buy” a dog. Instead, he or she must meet certain eligibility requirements. The same holds true for anyone who has had his or her driver’s license revoked after multiple DUI’s. The state has determined such people to be a risk when it comes to alcohol and driving, and until they can prove that they no longer pose any danger on the road, they can’t win a license appeal.

As Michigan DUI lawyers, we completely understand the stress felt by people who suddenly find themselves facing a drunk driving charge. Nobody plans to get arrested for a DUI, so the whole situation always comes as a rather unpleasant surprise to everyone who does. Unfortunately, one thing my team and I also encounter is that because they feel so overwhelmed, many people will make rash decisions too soon (especially when it comes to hiring a lawyer), rather than taking the time to go about the whole DUI thing the right way.

vectorstock_921557-300x290Of course, some people do try to be “logical” about how to best handle their DUI, and will take the time to do some research before jumping into anything. Others, however, can’t stop fretting over their situation, and act more reflexively. These rash actions can include deciding which lawyer to hire, but may also involve things like a person deciding to enroll in some kind of alcohol counseling, or starting to attend AA. If there’s one key lesson to be taken from this article, it’s that everyone facing a DUI should take their time and think things through before making any important decisions.

It’s natural that some people may feel a need to take action quickly following a DUI arrest, but that still doesn’t make it a good idea. The first thing a person should do after getting home and settling in a bit is to look for real information. To be clear, “real information” does NOT mean websites that focus on the all the scary-sounding risks and potential penalties that are theoretically possible in a DUI case. That’s fear-based marketing, and it should be ignored completely.

In our capacity as Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers, we regularly encounter misunderstandings about the difference between a suspended and a revoked driver’s license. As life goes, this difference often doesn’t matter at all to someone – until it suddenly becomes an issue in his or her life. In this article, I want to explain how and why a suspended license is different than one that has been revoked in the most straightforward way possible, without getting lost in the weeds, so to speak.

vectorstock_5040481-300x300The biggest source of confusion about the 2 terms stems from the fact that most people use the term “suspended license” to describe any and every kind of loss of driving privileges. To be sure, most of the time a person can’t drive IS because of a suspended (rather than a revoked) driver’s license, but in the real world, people also use the term “suspended” when what they’re really talking about is a license that has been “revoked.” A revocation is very different from (and somewhat more serious than) a suspended license, and that’s why proper use of the terms can be important, and what we’ll examine below.

This lack of precision regarding what really amounts to the overuse of the term “suspended license” knows almost no limits. For example, even police officers will sometimes write “suspended” on a citation despite the fact that they are actually writing up someone who has been caught driving on a revoked license, and people in the court system will often refer to either a DWLS or DWLR case as a “suspended license” matter. Before the reader wonders if that has any effect on the charge (“can I get out of this because they listed the wrong offense?”), let me be clear: it does not.

In part 1 of this article, we began discussing how to make a 1st offense DUI a true “one and done.” As Michigan DUI lawyers, my team and I want to do everything we can to make sure that our clients never wind up in the same situation again. This, of course, is the court system’s goal, as well. As lawyers fulfilling our role as “Attorneys and Counselors at Law,” we have the advantage of more personal interaction with each person. Instead of having limited time with them, like the courts, we can have a heart-to-heart talk with each client to help him or her do a bit of self-analysis.

Arret-2-300x293There’s a lot more to all of this than just talk, though. It’s really easy for a lawyer or law firm to use slogans like “caring” and “personal service,” but in practice, we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk (or, in this case, walk the talk). Because the foundation of our practice is DUI and driver’s license restoration cases, our clients’ relationships to alcohol is at the center of everything we do. For example, the goal of a driver’s license restoration case is to win back the license for someone who has lost it because of multiple DUI’s, and that requires proving that he or she is genuinely sober.

Accordingly, our firm is a recovery-oriented practice. We have to be. Although the overwhelming majority of our 1st offense DUI clients do not have a problem with alcohol, we want to make sure they understand how serious things become in a 2nd offense case, and that they never wind up arrested for drunk driving again. This can be challenging, because most of our clients aren’t reckless people, or the kind who otherwise party so much that getting that a 1st offense DUI seemed seemed likely in the first place, rather than something completely out-of-character.

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.

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