Up until recently, if you would have asked what I think sets me apart as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, my answer would have almost certainly centered on the fact that my office guarantees to win every license restoration and clearance case we take. However, a recent discussion with Ann, my senior assistant, provided an insight that I think is helpful to someone as he or she looks for a lawyer. As she pointed out, what makes us so different from every other lawyer is that we really know and care about recovery and sobriety. We’ll examine this over 2 installments.

heart-recovery-300x218In a very real way, I seemed to have overlooked the recovery aspect, probably because it’s so central to who I am and the work I do. To be sure, my articles about sobriety leave no doubt that my understanding of the development, diagnosis, treatment of, and recovery from alcohol and drug problems runs very deep, and goes miles beyond the legal aspects involved in winning a license appeal. Having completed a post-graduate program of addiction studies, I bring a healthy measure of clinical knowledge unmatched by any other lawyer I know.

However, it goes even farther than that, because my reasons for spending the money and time on all this was to be able to actually help my clients; first, as people, and second, within the context of their license restoration, DUI or criminal cases. That’s the part I have been overlooking. I’m going to put false modesty aside for a moment and candidly point out that if you’re looking for a lawyer, you simply will not find any other attorney or law firm that comes close to knowing about or believing in recovery like me and my team.

In this article, I want to make clear that the absolute key to winning a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal is proving that you have quit drinking and are a safe bet to never drink (or get high) again. It doesn’t matter how long you haven’t had a license, or have otherwise been unable to drive. In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, one of the most common things I hear from people who want to drive again is that it has been a long time since they had a license. In fact, this is often the first thing someone writes about in an email contact form: “It’s been [X number of] years since I’ve had a license,” or “I haven’t had a license for [X number of] years, or, “I haven’t driven since [X amount of time].”

abba9b5999fee0dd895a1cfeadbd94a8-300x262I cannot say this enough: sobriety is the absolute first requirement for winning a license appeal. This means that you have to prove to the state that you are sober before anything else. We’ll see this as we examine the main rule governing license appeals later, in this installment. Beyond that, it does not matter how long a person has been without a license, or how long it’s been since he or she last got into any trouble. In fact, it doesn’t matter if a person has won a Nobel Prize in the meantime: until he or she can demonstrate that he or she has quit drinking and has the commitment and tools to remain alcohol-free, the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) won’t even consider granting his or her driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal.

It’s important to understand that “alcohol-free” means just that: no alcohol. There is no room in the license reinstatement process for ANY drinking, getting high, partying, or the use of any mind or mood altering substances, ever. In fact, if a person has a prescription for any medications that are either potentially habit-forming, or can be mind or mood altering, we’re going to have to address that and not only show that it is medically necessary, but we’ll also have to provide certain other, specific information from his or her prescribing physician(s).

In the world of probation violations, people try to advance all kind of stupid defenses that don’t fly. Probably the most famous is what some Judges call the “NyQuil defense,” a tired and losing attempt to explain away a failed alcohol test of some sort. In this article, I want to explain how a stupid defense can make things worse, and how a lawyer who doesn’t have the experience and confidence to call BS when he or she sees it actually makes things worse for the client, and not better.

https://www.michigancriminaldefenselawyerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/286/2019/04/1.2-300x171.pngLet’s start with the lawyers. There are too many of them so hungry for cases that they compete with each other by cutting prices down to the bone, and, for fear of losing a potential customer, will simply nod and agree with everything a potential client says. A good lawyer should be upfront and explain that a stupid idea won’t fly, not just take someone’s money and try it anyway. More than anything else, that’s the sign of a lawyer desperate for work. Remember, too, that every Judge out there has already heard every excuse in the book 10 times over, and won’t be easily fooled.

This is why the “NyQuil defense” is so famous; it would take a lot (as in multiple bottles) of that stuff to fail most breath or urine tests used by the courts. When used as directed, or even used in double-doses, a person taking cold medicine will NOT fail either a breath or EtG urine test, or will at least only produce a result that shows minimal ingestion. There is an obvious difference between test results produced by the beverage consumption of alcohol and that produced by using cold medicine, even if a person “swigs” it. Every Judge knows this, as does any good lawyer. Thus, as an excuse for a positive test result, it won’t work.

In part 1 of this article, we began our examination of the role of a person’s relationship to alcohol in the context of a Michigan DUI case. We began by looking at how the court system perceives anyone facing an alcohol-related traffic offense, and how that perception must be managed. I noted that the court, for its part, has what amounts to a built-in alcohol bias, and that this is made all the worse because it is an established fact that DUI drivers do, as a group, have an increased rate of drinking problems than the population at large. Everyone arrested for a DUI will try and explain that they’re not any kind of “big drinker.”

talk-to-me-300x194In the real world, you can count on a person facing an OWI charge insisting they don’t drink a lot, or they don’t drink that often, and so on. It’s normal for people to “hurt” after a DUI, no matter how it came about. Because of this, a person picked up for drunk driving will automatically try and do some damage control relative to his or her drinking. The truth, however, is that even if a person hardly ever drinks, that misses the point. While it’s easy to think of a drinking problem in terms of frequent over-indulgence, or the “need” to drink regularly, those things are markers of just one kind of drinking problem.

People who rarely drink can still have issues with alcohol. If a person only drank a handful of times in his or her whole life, but has wound up getting a DUI, that tends to show that drinking is risky for him or her. One of the biggest misconceptions is that a person needs to be an “alcoholic” before he or she needs help, and that a drinking problem is defined by frequency and quantity. A drinking problem is really any drinking that causes any kind of problem.

Being a DUI lawyer means handling DUI cases for people, but being a really good DUI lawyer means helping the client as a person. This means doing more than just avoiding legal consequences and navigating the court system. In other words, the proper handling of a DUI case is multi-dimensional, and holistic. In this 2-part article, I want to focus on how a person’s relationship to alcohol always plays a central role in his or her DUI case, both legally and personally, and how a good lawyer will work with that in both contexts.

XX2-268x300I am rather uniquely qualified to examine this topic, having both a legal and clinical background. For everything we’re going to go over in these installments, the bottom line is that sometimes, a person facing a DUI charge just needs someone to talk to, while other times, they need someone to really “talk” to them. Unfortunately, the path of least resistance for any lawyer handling DUI cases is to simply agree when a client says, as most do, things like they don’t drink much, or often, or otherwise aren’t “big drinkers.” Ultimately, it fails the client when a lawyer is too afraid to disagree, and instead follows the salesperson’s strategy that “the customer is always right.”

But that’s just wrong. Of course, nobody wants to hire some blockhead, opinionated lawyer who thinks everyone has a drinking problem, but it’s equally useless to waste money on a spineless idiot who is either too scared or too ignorant to speak frankly. Understand this: from the court’s point of view, it was drinking that caused someone to get DUI in the first place, and, in a 1st offense case, it’s primary concern is whether or not that kind of drinking represents a genuinely out-of-character incident, or the person possess ANY kind of risk to engage in similar risky behavior in the future. This mean that a person’s relationship to alcohol becomes the main focus of every DUI case.

I am the original Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer. Over the last several years, more and more “McLicense” lawyers have popped up, trying to market themselves in this field by doing things like using some version of the words “driver’s license restoration” or  “driver’s license restoration lawyer” in their website names to hawk their services on google ads. And while these tactics might have some value, the fact is that I was winning license appeals nearly 30 years ago, and was writing blog articles about how I do that more than 10 years ago, before many of these attorneys were even admitted to the bar, or had ever handled their first Secretary of State case.

DOogI’ve had a guarantee to win every case I take longer than most of these websites has been around. Beyond me, there is a very small circle of bona-fide license appeal lawyers scattered across the state, all of whom have been practicing for 20 years or more. Any one of us in this little group has forgotten more than all these Johnny-come-lately, copy-cat operations will ever know about license restorations. Although these newbies try and make it look like license reinstatement issues are the focus of their practice, as I noted, there are rather few of us who truly concentrate in this field. Unlike most of my other “informational” articles, this one will be a piece of shameless self-promotion, so hold on…

I am uniquely qualified to help you win your driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal because beyond just being a lawyer, I also have a formal, university post-graduate background in addiction studies. This clinical training enables me to really understand the various processes of recovery, and that, in turn, enables me to present my cases so that I can guarantee to win every one I take. For example, the majority of my clients are NOT in AA, and many have never even been to a single meeting, but that couldn’t matter less, because they all do win. It kills me that some lawyers actually misinform people they need to go to AA in order to win their license back…

Among the questions anyone looking for a lawyer to help in a criminal case, handle a DUI charge, or win a driver’s license restoration or clearance appeal will have is “how much?” This goes well beyond just being able to afford a particular lawyer. In a recent video for my Youtube channel, I tried to explain why I list my prices on my website and this blog. In this article, I want to expand on that a bit and examine why I am the only lawyer I know of in my field to publish my fees.

2-290x300It may sound corny, but it begins with the simple proposition that, in my professional life I always try to treat others as I would wish to be treated if I was on the other side of the transaction. If there’s one thing I absolutely HATE when I’m the consumer, it’s any kind of BS or evasiveness surrounding cost. When I call a business, I expect to be able to get a price, unless it’s for something like a repair job, where a technician has to first diagnose the problem, but even then, there is no good reason to not be able to at least provide a “ballpark” figure. I won’t accept less.

Unfortunately, most of the lawyers who do list prices are in legal fields where the goal is to be the cheapest. That’s always a race to the bottom, but thankfully, I don’t work in any of those areas. Within my areas of practice, I am not in competition with anyone else based on price. I know full well that my fees are nowhere near the cheapest out there, and for certain things, they are higher than most.

One of the most misleading marketing tactic used by some DUI lawyers is that it’s easy to get a drunk driving charge dismissed. In this article, I want to get to the truth about having a DUI charge thrown out of court. As a teaser, though, let me begin by noting that, in the technical and confusing way most of those DUI legal services are marketed, my office obtains dismissals in the vast majority of the cases we take, so they have nothing on us. In the interests of honesty, however, (something that gets steamrolled over in legal marketing, like fresh asphalt in a new parking lot), that does NOT mean that most DUI cases go away altogether.

cd-300x245As we set off, I’d ask the reader to think for a moment about all the celebrities who make the headlines for something like a DUI or an assault and battery charge. This is a fairly regular part of the news stream. For the most part, the public is more interested in the fact that So-and-So was arrested for something, rather than following the case as it winds along. Unless someone really well-known goes to prison for years on end for some horrible crime, people tend to have lost interest, when, 4 or 5 months later, So-and-So gets a year probation and 100 hours of community service for a DUI, or punching some photographer.

One thing almost all celebrities have in common is money. None of them is going to wind up with a court-appointed lawyer. When a professional athlete or well-known entertainer gets in a jam, he or she will hire a top-shelf lawyer. People like this don’t go looking for the lawyer who markets him or herself based on having the most affordable fees or having a payment plan. The rich and famous hire the best.

Within all the articles on this blog, the “voice” of the lawyer is one topic that is inherent in all of them, but never really addressed directly in any one of them. In this article, I want to zero in on the idea that every lawyer has a certain voice – a particular way of presenting things – and examine how important that is within the context of something like a criminal, DUI or driver’s license restoration case.

Voicer-2-300x215For everything we’re going to discuss, the bottom line is that you either hire a lawyer who is charismatic, persuasive and inspires confidence – or not. And why would anyone choose “or not?” In my own life, I much prefer to deal with someone who is genuine and interesting, rather than endure boring, politically correct blandness. In the role of lawyer, it’s far better if a person presents him or herself clearly, and with real “feeling.”

Being represented by a lawyer who stammers, stutters, or otherwise doesn’t speak exceptionally well is like being operated upon by a surgeon with a bad case of Parkinson’s disease. In courtrooms and hearing rooms, EVERYTHING depends on how well or not a lawyer communicates. No matter how you cut it, an attorney either sells the client’s case or not. Remember, the prize for not winning is losing. There is no way to sugar-coat this simple reality.

Certain conditions must be met in order to win a Michigan driver’s license restoration or clearance case. The 2 most important of these are, first, that a person proves he or she has not had a drink for a “sufficient” period of time, and second, that he or she is a safe bet to never drink again. In my role as a Michigan driver’s license restoration lawyer, I sometimes encounter a few people who seem determined to have conflict with everyone and everything they meet. The State of Michigan has a very specific system in place to decide license appeal cases, and it doesn’t bend for anyone. In this article, I want to make clear that, unlike ordering a hamburger, when it comes to winning your license back, you can’t just have it your way.

BKK3-300x164In order to win, a license appeal case must comply with the rules established by the Secretary of State. If it was up to me, there are lots of things I would change about the license appeal system, but it’s not. Instead, it is what it is, and not what you, me or anyone else wants it to be. In order to win, I have to work squarely within the state’s guidelines. Most people get this, but it can be a problem for those who aren’t particularly good at following rules.

The state, for its part, doesn’t “care” if someone ever drives again. It is important to understand that among those people whose driver’s licenses are revoked for multiple DUI’s, only a minority of them really do quit drinking for good, and that is the absolute key to winning a license appeal. The license restoration process, therefore, is really about screening these people out from the larger group. At the end of the day, a person either meets the standards set by the state or not.