In my role as Michigan Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer, I regularly publish articles on this blog examining every aspect of the License Appeal and Clearance process. I have published more informative, useful information about Michigan License Restorations than anyone. In the last few years alone, I’ve won well over 200 License Restoration cases precisely because I am honest, play by the rules, and require a person to really be Sober before I will take their case.
As a result, I Guarantee that if I do accept a License Appeal case, I will win it.
Yet within that body of over 140 Michigan Driver’s License Restoration articles, many, if not most, are extremely detailed. This article will be different; instead of looking at the legal issues or procedures involved in a License Appeal case, I am going to try and shift the focus to the most basic, practical requirement to win a License Restoration.
Here, we’ll ask, “what is Michigan Driver’s License Restoration or Clearance case really all about?” What is the “bottom line?” Rather than explore the nuances about how a certain issue is addressed, or proven, we’re going to try to uncover what the central, real concern is in a License Appeal case, and we’re going to put it in terms that people mean when they say things like, “at the end of the day,” or “the bottom line is,” or, “here’s the thing.”
So what is the bottom line in a Michigan Driver’s License Restoration or Clearance case? What does need to be proven, at the end of the day, when all is said and done, in order to win a License Restoration Appeal?
To really focus on the “bottom line” answer to this question, we have to consciously try to steer away from a discussion of the finer points of the issues and rules governing a License Appeal. This is difficult, because License Appeal cases involve what seems like a million little rules. If there ever was an example of the saying “you can’t see the forest through the trees,” this is it.
Accordingly, we cannot completely avoid this inquiry. We at least to need to back up a bit, and look at why a person’s Driver’s License has been Revoked in the first place, and how these cases are decided. Remember we’re talking about License Appeals for Revocations that are the result of multiple DUI convictions.
Michigan Law holds that a person conviction of 2 DUI’s within 7 years, or 3 within 10 years will have their License Revoked as a “habitual offender,” and that they are presumed to have an alcohol (drinking) problem. As a result, they are considered an unacceptable risk to be allowed to drive.
The Michigan Secretary of State Driver Assessment and Appeal Division (DAAD) rules require that, in order to win their License back, a person prove, by Clear and Convincing Evidence, that their “alcohol or substance abuse problems, if any, are under control and likely to remain under control.”
Forget the “if any” part of that. Unless there is a drug Record, or drug issues in the person’s background, or otherwise identified as part of the Evaluation process, forget the “substance abuse” part of that, as well. Now read the rule as it is usually applied in a License Appeal case:
A person must prove, by “Clear and Convincing Evidence,” that his or her “alcohol problem is under control, and likely to remain under control.”
I have written dozens of articles that examine what that means, and how it’s proven. Those detailed examinations are important, but there is, underneath everything else, a bottom line. Think about it: A person has had their License yanked for multiple DUI’s. The state, when it takes a person’s License, essentially says, “You have a drinking problem. If you want your License back, you’re going to have to wait until you’re eligible, then you’re going to have to show that you’ve gotten your drinking problem under control, and that it’s likely to remain under control.”
That means, at its simplest, that a person must prove that they are a safe bet to never drink again. That, in essence, means proving Sobriety. By proving that they are really Sober, a person will have likewise proven that they are no longer a risk to drink and drive again, either. This is only logical; if a person is likely to never drink again, then they are certainly likely to never drink and drive again.
This means that they would no longer be considered a “unacceptable risk.”
Of course, in a real-life legal analysis, we start up with the “million little rules” thing all over again. A person will have to prove a certain minimum period of abstinence. For the most part, that will have to be at least a year. They will have to prove that an acceptable portion of that abstinence is “voluntary,” meaning NOT while on Probation or Parole.
How much “voluntary” abstinence is required by the DAAD? It depends. Most of my Clients move forward with a License Appeal having well over a year clean time under their belts, with varying amounts of demonstrable voluntary Abstinence.
“Abstinence” generally refers to past behavior. Without a proper understanding of the License Appeal process, and good help assembling the evidence, a person can crash and burn on just this point, and fail to submit adequate evidence and proof that their alcohol problem “is under control.” When I Represent someone, this is NEVER an issue.
From my perspective, at least, after having firmly assembled satisfactory proofs that a person’s alcohol problem is “under control,” my efforts in a License Appeal shift to proving that a person’s alcohol problem “is likely to remain under control.” It only takes a drop of common sense to realize how dumb it would be for a person, legally categorized as a “habitual offender,” and presumed, by law, to have a drinking problem, to file a License Appeal and try and argue that they can now drink “better,” or “safely.”
A person proves that their alcohol problem is likely to remain under control when they prove that they are likely to never drink again.
In other words, at the end of the day, after everything is said and done, the DAAD needs to be convinced that a person is a safe bet to never drink again.
That’s really the bottom line. Sure, it is a gross oversimplification of the License Restoration process in the same way that it would be to say about most sports that, in order to win, all you have to do is score more points than the other side. There are rules governing every facet of the contest, beginning with who is even eligible to participate (or file).
From the state’s point of view, however, a person convicted of multiple DUI’s is considered a serious risk on the road. The state believes such a person has an alcohol problem. It does not believe (for good reason; because it’s true) that a person with a drinking problem who has been Arrested multiple times for Drunk Driving can somehow bring things under control and drink, but not drink and drive again. If they continue to drink at all, they present an unacceptable risk to drink and drive again.
Therefore, the rules, and the way they are applied in a Michigan License Appeal, require that a person show that they’ve brought their alcohol problem under control, and have done so in a way that makes it likely that their alcohol problem will remain under control. This means that a person must be a safe bet to never drink again. If a person is, in fact, a safe bet to never drink again, then they are also, by extension, a safe bet to never drink and drive again, either.
To put it another way, the state needs to be satisfied that the person fundamentally accepts and believes, within their heart of hearts, that they can never drink again.
This may help the reader understand why I am so big into the whole “Sobriety” thing. Anyone who is really Sober, however they got to that point, and whatever they do or don’t do to remain Sober, will fundamentally understand this. Anyone who isn’t really and truly Sober will either think they do, or will just be confused.