Author – James E. Czarnecki
In a Michigan Driver’s License Appeal there is one key that is the most important path to winning the license restoration hearing – your sobriety.
The Administrative Rules require absolute sobriety. Please take note of the requirements of Administrative Rule 13:
“(a) The hearing officer shall not order that a license be issued to the petitioner unless the petitioner proves, by clear and convincing evidence, all of the following: (i) That the petitioner’s alcohol or substance abuse problems, if any, are under control and likely to remain under control. (ii) That the risk of the petitioner repeating his or her past abusive behavior is a low or minimal risk.”
“Before ordering that a license be issued to the petitioner, the hearing officer shall require that the petitioner prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that he or she has completely abstained from the use of alcohol and controlled substances, except for controlled substances prescribed by a licensed health care professional, for a period of not less than 6 consecutive months or has abstained for a period of not less than 12 consecutive months if the evidence considered at the hearing establishes that a longer period of abstinence is necessary.”
According to the rules, absolute sobriety is the key to winning the hearing. While the rules require you to prove your sobriety, your sobriety actually helps you overcome the challenge of winning the license hearing. For most people, winning a Michigan driver’s license appeal coincides with restoration of their life. You cannot win the Michigan driver’s license appeal without documented sobriety. When you have achieved sobriety, you have in effect, established the facts that support Rule 13’s requirements that you show clearly and convincingly that you have been abstinent and are going to remain abstinent. Sobriety, for those suffering with an alcohol addiction, is a positive life-changing event. Sobriety has forces positive lifestyle changes.
A Michigan driver’s license appeal is very personal for the individual who has lost his or her license. In my nearly 15 years of license restoration appeals, I found that most people explain that their life has improved in ways that are common to others who have achieved sobriety. Sobriety confers tremendous benefits on a person, aside from having his or her license restored. These sobriety benefits help us win your hearing.
Benefits of Sobriety
1. Healthier Lifestyle
Nearly all of my clients tell me that they are healthier when they quit drinking. Some have started regular exercise programs. Abstinence from alcohol also helps alleviate and prevent liver problems, kidney disease, high blood pressure, etc. When a person has a problem with alcohol, he or she usually does not pay attention to the food they eat. When sober, people tend to make better choices about their diet. Overall, people tend to engage in a healthier lifestyle when sober.
Abstinence psychological benefits as well. People explain that they do not feel like they are living life in a “fog.” Life is clearer, and they are able to enjoy it when they do not have to depend on alcohol. With an alcohol problem in remission, people have a better outlook on life as alcohol can lead to depression. Addiction is also associated with anxiety. When people are living a healthy and sober lifestyle, they feel better about themselves.
2. The “Fog” is Lifted
One regret that my clients frequently tell me is that they have lived life through an alcohol fog. For example, waking up with a hangover is a sign of alcohol poisoning. They do not feel well. A person may have a hard time remembering what happened the night or day before. Moreover, they may regrets the things they have said or done.
People also tend to make poor choices while intoxicated. People feel powerless when alcohol impacts their decision-making abilities. When a person cannot make rational decisions because of the alcohol “fog,” a person loses control of himself or herself. That leads to a feeling of hopelessness and depression. It is widely known that alcohol is a depressant.
Alcohol’s influence on the decision-making process is of primary concern for the Secretary of State hearing officer. Specifically, the hearing officer is concerned that alcohol consumption has lead to the poor choice to drink and drive. If you have to appear at a Michigan driver’s license appeal, then you have committed the offense more than once. The decision to drink and drive put yourself and others at risk. Generally, people do not engage in behavior that jeopardizes themselves and others when they can think clearly. Alcohol impedes a clear thought process. Many clients tell me they were very fortunate that they did not injure themselves or others. I can see a sigh of relief on most people when they tell me why they regret drinking and driving.
3. Relationships Mended
When people are struggling with an alcohol addiction, or any addiction for that matter, relationships often suffer. Marriages and friendships dissolve. Many of my clients have been given an ultimatum by a spouse, that is, stay sober or else the marriage or relationship is over. Sometimes that ultimatum motivates people to become sober. People decide that alcohol is not as important as losing a loved one. People do not want to sacrifice a relationship for alcohol.
Relationships improve when you are sober because people do not have to deal with you through the haze of alcohol. Because alcohol can have such a negative impact on relationships, the 12 step AA process incorporates making amends to those you have harmed when you were drinking. The path to recovery is also the path to mending your relationships.
4. Career Advancement/Opportunities
An alcohol addiction can impact your career or job due to poor job performance. A person may be unemployed because of the addiction. Also, your professional progress can be impeded by alcohol consumption.
Your sobriety, on the other hand, helps you to be more efficient, effective, and productive. I have had clients achieve promotions or gained new employment after attaining sobriety. The thing I hear most often is that people feel more motivated to succeed when sober. Achieving sobriety is a sign that the person can accomplish any goal if he or she truly desires it.
Commitment to Sobriety
As you can see, and might have even experienced, a commitment to sobriety can have a positive impact on your life and your ability to regain your driving privileges. The work that you have put in to achieve your sobriety becomes the basis of the evidence we need to win the Michigan driver’s license appeal hearing. The two are closely related.
As I stated at the outset, restoration of a person’s driving privileges coincides with restoration of his or her life. In order to get your license back you must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that your alcohol problem is under control and likely to remain that way. At the hearing, you must present evidence that you are sober and that includes proof of how you have achieved your sobriety. If you achieved sobriety, all we need to do is tell that story. You have already done the work. Do not worry about being convincing at the hearing. I have yet to represent a person who did not sound convincing after he or she has put in the hard work to achieve sobriety.
Sobriety requires commitment. You must make lifestyle changes to achieve sobriety and remain that way. As stated in the title of this article, there is one key to winning – and that is your sobriety. If you have worked to gain your sobriety, at the same time you have created the evidence to prove that fact to the hearing officer. The “how” of what it took you to reach sobriety is what the hearing officer wants to hear during your testimony. Also, your sobriety will be reflected in the paperwork.
During your Michigan driver’s license appeal hearing, we provide proof of your sobriety so that you can overcome the“clear and convincing” burden of proof. Proof of sobriety includes your testimonial letters, counseling documentation, 10 panel drug screen, substance abuse evaluation report, and your sworn testimony.
Telling your story
When you have done the work to get sober it becomes clear when you testify. When your attorney properly prepares you for the hearing officer’s questions, there will be no question in the hearing officer’s mind that you are sober.
After doing license restoration appeals for nearly 15 years, I can tell you, if you worked hard to achieve sobriety, that message is loud and clear in the hearing room. Nearly all of my clients get emotional or passionate when they explain what it took to reach the point of sobriety. It is very hard for a hearing officer to deny you a license when you tell your compelling story.
Your genuine sobriety story is the key to success. The hearing officer, will NOT grant you a license if you state that you will have a drink again or even rarely. The state is convinced that your multiple drinking and driving convictions mean that you have a problem with alcohol. Rightly or wrongly that is what the state believes. I want this part to be very clear, if you have multiple driving and driving convictions the state firmly believes you have a problem with alcohol. Since you have had multiple offenses, only your dedication to sobriety will enable you to win your Michigan driver’s license appeal. As cited at the beginning of the article, the administrative rules require uninterrupted sobriety.
In sum, when you work toward and maintain your sobriety you lay the foundation for the facts needed to win your Michigan driver’s license appeal hearing. Sobriety then, is the key factor in winning your license back.
The role of your experienced Michigan driver’s license appeal attorney
Our job as your attorneys is to present this information clearly and persuasively. We review the documents for consistency because a small “red-tape” error can be the end of your appeal. A paperwork defect could result in a denial order. We meticulously review your reference letters and make corrections or suggestions when necessary. Every piece of evidence is checked and then rechecked. When you are ready for the hearing, our office thoroughly prepares you to testify.
I can tell you we frequently hear from clients who went through the Michigan driver’s license appeal alone, or just the same, with inexperienced counsel. If you want to save time and money you need to hire an experienced attorney.
In Michigan, when you have your license revoked, it is essentially revoked for life, that is, until it is reinstated at the Michigan driver’s license appeal. Only a successful Michigan driver’s license appeal, or appeal to the circuit court, will result in a restored license. If you want to win at the first hearing, you need to hire an experienced attorney to assist you.
Talk to an experienced Michigan driver’s license attorney
At CZARNECKI & TAYLOR all we do is criminal defense and license restoration. For nearly 15 years, license restoration has been part of our work because it is so closely related to drinking and driving offenses. We handle many OWI cases a year.
We have significant experience and knowledge in handling the Michigan driver’s license appeal. Do not go through the process alone. You have worked too hard. Many times, we hear from clients who previously went through this process alone or with an inexperienced attorney. When we review the denial order we quickly show the client the mistakes or flaws that occurred and could have been easily avoided with proper preparation from an experienced attorney. If you have worked hard to achieve your sobriety and in the process created the evidence needed to get your license back, you must hire an attorney who will help you win the first time.
You can call our office 24-7/365. We would really like to work with you to get your license back. After all the hard work you have put in to achieve and maintain your sobriety, we want to ensure that it does not go unnoticed at the hearing. That is why we guarantee we will win the first hearing.
JAMES E. CZARNECKI II (586) 718-2345
GENEVIEVE L. TAYLOR (586) 350-6044