Winning your License Appeal if you go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
As a Michigan driver’s license restoration law firm with over 30 years of experience, my team and I have seen firsthand how being involved in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) can help a person win a driver’s license or clearance case.
To be clear, AA is NOT necessary to win a license appeal, but, if a person really does attend meetings, it certainly can help boost his or her chances of success.
Years ago, it was difficult to win back a Michigan driver’s license, or get the clearance of a Michigan hold on a person’s driving record, without being in AA.
That was then; this is now, and things are different. More than half of our clients are not in AA, and our firm guarantees to win every driver’s license restoration and clearance case we take, so when we say attending AA is not required, we put our money where our mouths are.
Unfortunately, as wrong as that idea is, it still persists.
However - and here we come to the point of this section - the simple truth is that AA is still considered the “gold standard” of recovery methods, and attendance at AA meetings has always been seen by the Michigan Secretary of State as a good insurance policy for someone to stay sober.
AA people share a lot of knowledge about getting and remaining sober. They not only understand the need to not drink, they learn to use various tools to use to make sure they don’t:
- AA prepares its members to battle the enemy – alcohol.
- It teaches those who listen that alcoholism is “cunning, baffling and powerful.”
- It helps its followers segment their commitment to sobriety “one day at a time.”
- They learn the truth of the saying that "I didn't get in trouble every time I drank, but every time I got in trouble, I had been drinking."
- They come to understand, through reflection, what it really means to be “powerless” over alcohol.
- Those who dig a little deeper into the program may find help by following the 4th, 5th and 10th steps by taking a "fearless and searching moral inventory," admitting the nature of their wrongs, and thereafter continuing to take inventory.
- They learn make things better by making amends to those they have harmed.
- They learn how to practice the steps in their recovery, which is, after all, a process.
For those who work them, the 12 steps of AA can be very helpful.
Some of our clients are really involved in AA. They have sponsors, and they might even be a sponsor to someone else.
Others go to meetings, preferring just to pick up what they can by listening and not venturing much past the 1st step, if at all.
However, we also have plenty of clients who just go to the occasional meeting, or attend sporadically, without going “all in.”
They might not work the steps as much as they just show up.
Whatever a person does, if it works for them, then that’s fine.
As the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
There are 2 key legal issues in a Michigan license appeal:
1. That a person’s alcohol problem is “under control,” meaning that he or she has been alcohol free for a legally sufficient period of time (we generally require a person to have been completely abstinent for at least 18 months before we’ll move forward), and,
2. That his or her alcohol problem is “likely to remain under control,” which means that the person can demonstrate both the ability and commitment to remain alcohol-free for life.
In that regard, AA attendance - assuming it’s truly voluntary - provides strong evidence a person can present to demonstrate that he or she is likely to remain alcohol-free. The time he or she spends at the tables is seen as a manifestation of his or her commitment to stay sober
To be clear, though, a person should never go, or start going to AA in order “to make it look good.” That’s disingenuous, and the hearing officers will uncover that in short order.
In the end, what really matters in terms of a license appeal is that a person is genuinely sober, and committed to remaining sober. If AA is a part of that, then all the better.
While AA attendance is not required to win a license appeal, there is no denying that a person’s involvement with the program can help them to get back on the road.