Substance Abuse Evaluation in Michigan
The Substance Abuse Evaluation may be the most important part of the packet you submit for your hearing request. It is the only required document that includes a certified opinion from a licensed professional. Therefore, preparing yourself to answer the questions as well as you are able and scheduling your appointment with the best evaluator available are both integral steps toward your success.
To get your driver’s license back you will need to request a hearing with the Office of Hearings and Administrative Oversight with the Secretary of State. It is worth noting this office used to be called the Administrative Hearings Section (AHS).
First, let’s look at the statutory language that we are going to be satisfying for both the Substance Abuse Evaluation and also the administrative hearing; then, we will talk about what it means practically for you.
Under MCL 257.303 two or more drinking and driving convictions in a period of seven years or less qualify a person as a “Habitual Offender.” For the purpose of a driver’s license restoration hearing you will be considered a “Petitioner” for the hearing.
These are the things a petitioner, considered a “habitual offender,” must prove at the license appeal hearing:
- His or her alcohol and/or substance abuse problems, are under control and are likely to remain under control
- He or she represents a low or minimal risk of drinking or being under influence of illicit drugs while driving
- He or she has the ability and motivation to drive safely and within the law
- He or she has the minimum period of abstinence of one year
In addition to the 12 panel drug screen, letters of reference, and evidence in support of sobriety, you will need a Substance Abuse Evaluation. Getting a Substance Abuse Evaluation can be scary. You are not sure what kind of questions they might ask you, or if you are going to be treated like a criminal. In this section we are going to put your mind at ease by letting you know exactly what to expect and how to get the best results out of the Substance Abuse Evaluation.
Selecting the Right Substance Abuse Evaluator
Not all evaluators complete the evaluations with the same level of care and detail. Additionally, some evaluators focus their reports on continuing treatment rather than focusing on the evidentiary value that is necessary to convince the hearing officer by clear and convincing evidence that you are on a path of life-long recovery. Finally, not all evaluator’s have the same reputation with hearing officers. Some have opinion’s and reputations that are held in higher esteem than others. For all of these reasons, who you meet with to conduct your Substance Abuse Evaluation is just as important as how you present yourself during the interview.
Grabel & Associates has successfully won hundreds of driver’s license restoration hearings over the course of more than 15 years. We have the experience and record necessary to demonstrate that we know who the best evaluators in Michigan are. We will help you set up an appointment with the most qualified state licensed substance abuse evaluator in your area to put you in the best position to receive a favorable report.
Preparing For Your Substance Abuse Evaluation
You must complete a 12 panel drug screen before the appointment, and you will want to bring the laboratory certified 12 panel drug screen results with you or email them ahead of time. Additionally, you will need to provide your conviction record with accurate dates of drug and alcohol related convictions. The evaluator will be conducting an interview to piece together your period of sobriety. Demonstrating a year without any convictions or relapses is a big part of it.
Drug and Alcohol History, Work, Home Life, and Support Network
Phase 1: Diagnosing the Problems -- Drug and Alcohol Use
The evaluator will conduct a thorough evaluation of your drug and alcohol history. This will include personal questions about why you drank, how you drank, and what your drug(s) of choice were. It is important to be honest during this difficult phase of the evaluation. Being honest about your use will give you more credibility for phase two when you discuss your recovery and healthy coping strategies.
You should know that what you say here will not disqualify you from receiving a favorable outcome. However, if you are not honest it will be difficult to convince the evaluator that you have worked an effective solution with a support network. It is not uncommon for an alcoholic in advanced stages of the disease to begin drinking in the morning and to consume a fifth of liquor a day. Although this may seem extreme, this will not be disqualifying from receiving a favorable Substance Abuse Evaluation.
Phase 2: Showcasing the Solution -- Work, Support Groups, and Family
Now is the time when the evaluator will begin investigating the depth and sincerity of your recovery program. All of the hard work you have been doing to build a better, more stable life will pay dividends. The evaluator is looking for evidence that you have put support structures in place that if something goes wrong, like losing a job, you will handle it in a healthy way instead of turning back to old habits and drinking.
Demonstrating that you are employed will go a long way to showing you have a stable life. If you have not yet secured regular employment, be sure to talk about your job search efforts and mention any recent applications you have submitted. The evaluator is going to ask about your family and your close relationships. Use this opportunity to talk about the ways that you have seen your relationships change and grow in sobriety.
Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) are a big part of recovery. Take advantage of the questions asking about your involvement to demonstrate to the evaluator that you have been a willing participant and have made changes in your life. AA has a way of slowly breaking down mental barriers and changing a person from the inside out. If you can describe the ways that speaking with people in the program has changed you, it will demonstrate the types of lasting changes that you are being interviewed for. If you have a sponsor, talk about how regular communication has helped you do the next right thing; and working the 12-steps has made an improvement in the way you manage your substance abuse issues. It is important to show that you have put a system in place to ensure that if misfortune finds you; you know how to deal with it and get through it sober.
After the Substance Abuse Evaluation is Complete
In our experience you should receive a copy in the mail in one to three weeks. Be sure to forward a copy to your attorney if the evaluator has not already done so.
We will review the report from the evaluator to ensure it has all of the required information including: a complete record of substance abuse charges and convictions, a favorable prognosis from the evaluator, and a description of your support network including home life, work environment, and important relationships. If the evaluation does not appear to be sufficiently positive or include all of the required information, we will guide you through the process of seeking a second opinion. You may need to change something about the way you are presenting your recovery or demonstrate remorse for your convictions.
All of this information is necessary for when you fill out your request for a driver’s license restoration hearing with the Secretary of State. The hearing request form 257 and 258 require you to answer questions about the accuracy of the Substance Abuse Evaluation. We will provide you the forms when you are ready to submit you packet to request a hearing.
Call Today For a Free Consultation
Do not hesitate to call with questions and concerns, we are here to help. We will fight hard to include you in our 97% win rate the first time around. We offer a written guarantee because of how confident we are that we will win for you. Call 1-800-677-9795 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation to get you back on the road!