License Restoration Questions - Personal Relationships

There may a further attempt to delve into your more personal relationships. These questions will tell the hearing officer who knows you the best, and whether the people that truly do know you are the very people that help you remain alcohol-free. Specifically, it is the author’s belief that husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, and other influential people are a critical looking–glass into your efforts of remaining sober. After all, if the person you share the most with happens to drink, how far are you from sharing that, as well? It is truly a red flag warning to a hearing officer if you claim you have quit drinking, but a significant other, such as a husband or wife, continues to consume alcohol. It is even more disconcerting if your significant other realizes your issue with drinking but feels no obligation to keep alcohol out of the home, for your sake.

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a. Are you in a relationship? With whom?
b. Does this individual drink? How often?
c. Do you have regular contacts with others not previously mentioned?
d. If so, who are these regular contacts? (provide names, phone numbers, etc)

There may a further attempt to delve into your more personal relationships. These questions will tell the hearing officer who knows you the best, and whether the people that truly do know you are the very people that help you remain alcohol-free. Specifically, it is the author’s belief that husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, and other influential people are a critical looking–glass into your efforts of remaining sober. After all, if the person you share the most with happens to drink, how far are you from sharing that, as well? It is truly a red flag warning to a hearing officer if you claim you have quit drinking, but a significant other, such as a husband or wife, continues to consume alcohol. It is even more disconcerting if your significant other realizes your issue with drinking but feels no obligation to keep alcohol out of the home, for your sake.

In many instances, a person’s decision to become or stay sober carries with it a tendency to judge others who have not come to a similar decision. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to label your partner an alcoholic at a restoration hearing with the mistaken impression that your crusade to help him or her find sobriety makes you any more alcohol-free. On the contrary, coming to such revelations only tells the hearing officer that alcohol likely remains in your home, and that its consistent use by others may one day compel you to do the same. It is best to leave other’s drinking problems outside of the explanation that your problem is controlled.

If you have regular contacts with anyone not yet mentioned in the hearing, the hearing officer may look for some feedback from these individuals. If, of course, someone knows you very well, it would be a good idea to bring that person to the hearing, provided that person’s testimony is not simply a reiteration of information you have already presented. It is the people closest to you that can represent that all the good things you have claimed of yourself are actually the case; it is, after all, helpful that someone else, other than yourself, agrees with how great you are. The hearing officer may view with suspicion any explanation that you have new and improved friends and partners if none of these alleged individuals can come forward and attest to some of the things you have discussed on the record. The DLAD is always looking for inconsistencies or incongruities in the things you represent. In this way, the testimony of third persons is a powerful method to supplement your testimony in a truthful way; it demonstrates that the things to which you have testified can be verified by others.

On the other hand, testimony from your witnesses can hurt your efforts, as well. A person who claims to be your best friend, for example, can seriously damage the credibility of your testimony if you claim you do not go to bars, but your friend claims that you do. Even if your friend alleges that you attend bars without drinking, your earlier testimony that you do not attend bars at all has been discredited and, by default, so has the rest of your testimony. You must be very careful about the people you decide to bring to the hearing and seriously ask yourself whether or not the person or persons you bring can have full discretion to openly and honestly discuss you and your relationship with alcohol.

What DLAD Asks about Personal Relationships and Contacts

a. With whom do you live?
b. How long have you lived with that/those person/people?
c. Provide the names, ages, and relation of the individuals you mention.
d. Do these individuals drink?
e. If they do drink, how often do they drink?

Your personal contacts tell the hearing officer a great deal about who you are and how you live your life. The people we interact with on a regular basis have a very unusual way of shaping the way we think and act. It is especially important at this point in the hearing that you highlight the relationships in your life that help you abstain from alcohol. These contacts will assist you in times of temptation and, if the relationship is a healthy one, will give you an added measure of support and understanding when you need it the most. You should therefore not only describe your relationship in detail, but also describe how these people help you make good decisions. A decision to drink and drive could have been, in large part, avoided, had you been in the presence of someone who was truly aware of the danger of drunk driving and simultaneously concerned about your well-being. The Michigan Secretary of State wants to ensure that the people have may have compromised your safety, and the safety of others, are not the very same people in your life that continue to disregard your true interests. A showing that you have made new friends, and eliminated bad ones, goes a long way in showing that you have made measured progress in assuring you are not strong-armed into consuming alcohol by the peer pressure of indifferent people.

The identity and make-up of the people you see on a regular basis will, in a way, form a perception of who you are, as well. The hearing officer will measure the credibility of the people you mention and try to determine if those people have influenced you for the better. It does you very little, if any, good to attempt to show that you still associate with the same losers that contributed to your drinking. Remember, a showing of brute strength in the face of alcoholism is a losing position. In that light, trying to describe how your roommate still drinks in your presence will do little to convince the hearing officer that you are a strong person. Instead, it is the author’s opinion that such a scenario may lead the secretary of state to conclude that it is only a matter of time before you “fall off the wagon.” Remember, your dedication to sobriety is full time and non-stop. You cannot make concessions in your fight against alcoholism. Deciding to reside with a drinker shows a less than complete commitment to abstinence. If you lived alone and were truly committed to sobriety, you would not possess any alcohol in your home. A roommate or family member who drinks, even if only occasionally, compromises a strategy that you would otherwise take, if you could. The greater measures you take to eliminate the thought of alcohol in your life, the better you will be. The degree to which you take these steps will correspond, in a way, with the soundness of your plan to remain alcohol-free.

The length of time you have been around those in your inner-circle allow the hearing officer to determine if the people you mention can persuasively demonstrate that you do not drink. Do not be surprised if the people you mention are called or questioned to see if the information you provide about these people in is line with what these folks actually have to say. If, for example, you indicate that your roommate has been living with you for eighteen months and, at a different point in the hearing, you also mention that your last drink was over one year ago, the hearing officer may ask your roommate whether or not he or she had ever witnessed you drink alcohol in the last six months. If your witness/roommate indicates that you have, your chances of reacquiring your license are slim to none. Your roommate, in this example, has virtually nothing to lose in offering up testimony. As the motivation to lie is low or nonexistent, the hearing officer will likely defer to that testimony as more credible that your own in making a decision about your right to drive again. Ironically enough, however, the testimony of another can be more destructive or helpful than your own. This “two-edged sword” extends to any family member or friend that has contact with you on a fairly regular basis. Do not underestimate the power of third-person opinions and their effect on the DLAD hearing officer.

The hearing officer may be curious to learn if the people you mention for support are themselves drinkers. Keep in mind that the company you keep will reflect upon the perception you leave of yourself. The time and activities you spend with others will, in large part, shape some of the assumptions the hearing officer may have about your sobriety. It is important to spend your time with people that know and respect your decision to stay sober. It is not necessarily essential that everyone you know not drink, but it is critical to demonstrate that the ones you love and respect also love and respect you enough to eliminate at least a portion of your desire to drink by not drinking in your presence. The further you stay away from alcohol, the better. Accordingly, the further you stay away from people who drink, the better you will demonstrate your decision to eliminate all the temptations you can reasonably eliminate from your life. You would do well to show how you have cut yourself off from people who drink in excess or who do not otherwise respect sobriety.

What can you tell us about Your Environment?

a. Do you go to bars?
b. Do your friends go to bars?
c. Do your friends drink in bars and other establishments?
d. If they do drink, how often do they do so?
e. Do you accompany them when they drink?

The hearing officer takes seriously your decision to never drink. It is therefore imperative that your surroundings do not contradict your decision to remain sober. You should never enter willingly enter into bars. Your decision to enter a bar shows that your past is not far enough behind you. Always remember that a person truly committed to sobriety is going to make material changes in life that show a dedication to never again drinking alcohol. Hence, even your presence in bars should not be tolerated. If your battle with addiction is to be successful in the long term, you must never immerse yourself in temptation. It is better to steer clear of alcohol altogether, when it is practical to do so.

If, after a prolonged exposure to the bar scene you decide, in a moment of weakness, to have “one little drink,” you have hindered your progress. The secretary of state knows alcohol addiction well enough to know that your decision to consistently spent time in bars is not far behind your decision to drink at those establishments, as well. One does not make a commitment to never eating sweets only to place a pie at the dinner table. Do not make the prideful error of ever thinking you are beyond a poor decision to drink. You may enter a bar with every intention in the world of only drinking soda. Nevertheless, the urge to consume alcohol may surprise and possibly overcome you if you have easy access to buying a drink.

By the same token, if your friends go to bars as a matter of course, it is clear to the secretary of state that, once again, you have not made a full commitment to abstaining from alcohol. Please recall that your environment has a way of influencing your behavior in ways in which you may never fully appreciate. You should continually stamp out any and all influences over you that distract you from your daily task of remaining alcohol-free. If your “good” friends always go to bars, it is not unreasonable to assume that your friends drink regularly. You cannot hope to convince the secretary of state that you have been sober for a while if your closest companions always defer to going to bars for fun. Any claim that you ALWAYS go to bars with your friends, and never drink, will likely be viewed as suspect, even if you claim it is truthful.

Note that all of the questions in this category allow you the opportunity to implicitly show the secretary of state how often you have the chance to drink with your “friends.” The power of peer pressure is not a high school cliché; it is very real and, in many cases, one of the leading causes of problem drinking. With your increased understanding of alcoholism, it is also wise for you to understand that the people that contributed to your delinquency are a thing of the past. If your old friends are your current friends, as well, then your old habits may have integrated themselves into any major lifestyle change you have tried to create. To truly remain alcohol-free, divorce yourself from the friends who have encouraged your over-indulgence, and find new people that regularly demonstrate the decision to make smart decisions: decisions that are in line with your decision to abstain from alcohol by creating a network of friends that help, not hinder, you.

The Law Office of Joseph F. Awad, P.C. specializes in Restoring your right to drive. Aggressive and Experienced, Attorney Awad will fight for your rights.