Winning back your Michigan Driver’s License – 2nd time is NOT the Charm

Being a Driver’s License Restoration Lawyer means that, beyond calls from those who want to hire me to handle their case the first time, I get any number of calls from people who have already tried (either on their own, or with a Lawyer other than me), and lost. Usually, the first thing they want to know is about filing an Appeal. I explain to such a caller that Appeals to Circuit Court are generally a waste of time and money. Winning an Appeal to Circuit Court after losing at the DAAD essentially involves proving that the Hearing Officer didn’t follow the law. I could go on all day about what that means, but most often, it boils down to throwing good money after bad in a futile attempt to overturn the DAAD’s ruling. If the caller has taken the time to read the volumes of stuff I have written about this subject, they know that, whatever else, I know this area of the Law pretty well.

The conversation usually moves on to my representing them when their 1 year is up, and they can file again for a new Hearing. This is when I have even more bad news. I have to explain that all the mistakes were made in that first, unsuccessful Hearing, do not simply go away, but remain part of the Record of their case. In other words, whatever caused them to lose the first time must be addressed in the subsequent Hearing. And this has the potential to be a huge problem.

0810_14_z+2009_ford_flex+drivers_seat2.jpgThis isn’t bragging, but I win over 90% of my License Appeals. In those rare instances where I’m not successful, it’s usually no surprise to either me, or my Client. In fact, it better not be a surprise to the Client, because if the person hasn’t been made aware of any weaknesses in their case, and hasn’t made an informed decision to go ahead, anyway, then there has been a serious problem in the Attorney-Client communication. Crippling problems, such as having a not-good-enough Substance Abuse Evaluation, or not-good-enough Letters of Support, or the lack of a fundamental understanding of the principles of recovery, are the kinds of problems which can never be overcome at the Hearing, and, in those cases, I would never file for a Hearing until things were made right beforehand.

When someone loses, however, then calls me, I don’t have the luxury of having prepared their case. Thus, if the Substance Abuse Evaluation that they, or their previous Lawyer submitted wasn’t good enough for the Secretary of State, then whatever problems it had must be addressed in the next year’s Hearing. This means that if a person’s Prognosis for Continued Abstinence wasn’t good enough in their first Hearing, it won’t do to just come in next year with an improved Substance Abuse Evaluation. Now, the person is going to have to explain and show what changed in the last year to account for the improvement in their Prognosis.

The same holds true for their Letters of Support. Remember, these are Notarized documents which almost carry the same weight of live Testimony. In fact, these letters are, in a very real way, substitutes for the live Testimony of whoever wrote them. When a letter says something that hurts the case, or doesn’t say enough to help the case, it’s kind of hard to have that same person say anything the next year which contradicts whatever they said, or didn’t say, the year before, without throwing the whole thing into doubt.

License Restoration Clients come in three varieties:

1. Those who have lost, and want expert help with next year’s Appeal,

2. Those who wonder if they need a Lawyer at all, and
3. Those who have an idea of the complexity of this stuff, and want to get it right the first time.

Helping those in that first group, who have filed once (without me as their Lawyer) and lost, is a large part of what I do. While it’s true that there’s a ton of work to any of these cases, and second-timers have a bit more to do, they at least have a full appreciation for how necessary it is. Beyond just preparing a case to win, second-timers have to address, and overcome, whatever it was that caused them to not win the first time.

Of course, the better plan of action is to get it right the first time. Given that a loss almost always means the person has to wait another year to try again, deciding who to hire to represent them should not be based on finding the lowest bidder. Nor, for that matter, should that decision be based on paying the largest legal fee, either. Instead, anyone serious about winning a License Appeal should spend the time necessary to screen the Lawyers they find who specialize in this area. Read what they’ve written on the subject, and ask them about their experience. Whatever else, License Restorations are not the kind of thing that can be done on a “once in awhile” basis.