A properly prepared substance abuse evaluation can make or break your case
In order to have your driving privileges restored, it’s imperative that properly prepared evidence is submitted to the hearing officers. A substance abuse evaluation (SAE) is mandatory, therefore it’s obvious that the hearing officers rely heavily on the information it contains. This evaluation is the pivotal piece of information that everything else revolves around.
Your letters of support, attorney’s examination questions and very own testimony are all based on the information contained in the evaluation. Making sure that a qualified substance abuse counselor properly completes the evaluation is your key to success.
The substance abuse evaluation is probably the single most important piece of evidence you are required to submit. Turning in a poorly done evaluation can lose your case for you before you even step foot into the hearing room. The key to receiving a proper evaluation is to make sure you spend enough time with your evaluator so that he or she will get a clear picture of who you were in the past and who you are today.
Simply reiterating a list of conviction dates and your treatment history, while necessary and important, is never enough. You need to P.L.A.N:
- P = Prior Orders
- L = Logs
- A = Abstinence History
- N = Note from Doctor
If you have ever been to a hearing in the past you will want to give your order whether it’s granting or denying your appeal to your evaluator. Often times the order will indicate several issues of concern that the hearing officer wants discussed and then addressed in the evaluation.
Ignition interlock logs should also be given to your evaluator. If there are any violations or even alcohol readings that did not cause a violation your evaluator should address it. It is especially important if your interlock logs contain alcohol readings. You should explain each incident to your evaluator. Be specific.
- Where were you when the violation occurred?
- What were you doing?
- Do you have any evidence to support your story?
Simply discussing it with your evaluator and having that notated on the evaluation is a step in the right direction. It shows the hearing officers that you are 100% forthcoming and this is what you want. It builds your credibility and it builds the credibility of the evaluator when giving you a diagnosis.
It is incredibly important that your evaluator understands your abstinence history. Notating any relapses and discussing why “this” time will be different is something the hearing officers are always looking for. If you testify to a period of abstinence that isn’t on your SAE, it will make the hearing officers skeptical that your substance abuse problem is likely to remain under control.
Note from your doctor
If you are taking any sort of medication you will need a note from your doctor. Typically, the note is put on an approved form from the Secretary of State called a physician statement of examination. If you are submitting a note from your doctor, it is imperative that your substance use evaluator review it and discuss it in his evaluation. The hearing officer will want to know that your excellent prognosis is really excellent and if you don’t mention that you are taking medication or being treated by a doctor to your evaluator how could he or she really know how you are doing?
Getting all of this information into your evaluation doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With a qualified substance abuse counselor and some guidance from your attorney you can make sure that all of these issues are easily covered. If you P.L.A.N accordingly you should be on the road to success.
If you or a loved one are seeking restoration of driving privileges in Oakland, Macomb, or Wayne County; call the driver’s license restoration experts at the Law Office of Barton Morris today.
Charlotte Steffen specializes in criminal defense and driver’s license restorations. She has been practicing law for nearly 20 years. Her experience includes thousands of criminal cases, including capital offenses and high profile cases. She began her career at the Legal Aid and Defender Association of Detroit, handling the toughest felonies in Wayne County. She went into private practice in 2002 and has continued helping those who need it most.
Charlotte is an adjunct law professor at the Detroit Mercy Law School in the Criminal Trial Clinic. She supervises student attorneys and lectures on drunk driving and driver’s license issues. She is also on the faculty of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan in which she helps train lawyers to become trial lawyers.