Part Two - The Hearing

It is hard to say that any one "phase" of a license restoration is more important than another. Clearly the hearing is the last phase but no more important than the "testimonial evidence gathering" phase or the "prepping" phase. The petitioner cannot be left wanting in any of these areas.

For instance, if, during the evidence gathering period the lawyer fails to notice that the substance abuse evaluation author forgot to include the petitioner's past drinking convictions under that section of the evaluation and everyone shows up at the hearing; although the hearing can be held it cannot be concluded. After all, how can a doctor or evaluator ( the person who writes your substance abuse evaluation must be able to predict that you are a low risk to relapse) give a prognosis if he/she doesn't know the petitioner's past history? At this point the matter would have to be adjourned in order for the attorney to complete the record. Or consider the possible/probable outcome of a hearing where the attorney fails to prep the client so they are left guessing how to answer a question. I guess the point is is that nobody wants to be put on pins and needles or lose a hearing due to poor preparation. While the hearing itself might be the most nerve racking phase for the client, the truth is is that most of the work is already done and the attorney and client are merely "rehearsing" a script, so to speak, that's already been prepped for in my office. Most often, the attorney begins the actual hearing with questions from the "script" (no surprises, however, on rare occasions the hearing officer may choose to begin the questioning, again, no surprises regarding the questions, just the order of who asks first). Again, all my questions as well as the questions asked by the hearing officer will have been discussed between attorney and client well before (but not too far before) the hearing.

I believe prepping in this fashion greatly reduces my clients stress and allows them to think clearer and articulate better. Not all attorneys submit their evidence to the secretary of state before hand - I do. I believe this makes the hearing go faster and you never have to worry about leaving something back at the office . This evidence (the substance abuse evaluation, the ten panel drug screen and testimonial letters) is not part of the questioning between the attorney and client or between the hearing officer and client, it is reviewed by the hearing officer alone at a later time when he is making his decision. Unless, of course, there is a problem with a particular piece of evidence.

For example, if one of the testimonial letters is not dated or notarized. Or as stated earlier, the substance abuse evaluation is incomplete, then at this juncture the attorney wold be forced to request an adjournment, the hearing result would be delayed and the client would become more annoyed and stressed than need be (remember a delayed hearing means delayed driving privileges). These types of pitfalls can be avoided with proper preparation.
When a client is flying in from another part of the country the last thing wanted are avoidable errors. There are only a handful of hearing officers and after having been in front of them for years you are able to know what they are going to focus on given your particular set of facts or history. In other words there should be no surprises to trip up the client. Moreover, when we initially petition the DAAD for a hearing and the notice comes back, it not only has the hearing date, place and time but also the name of the hearing officer conducting the hearing. (Some hearing officers require a different approach than others.)

Assuming all the evidence gathering and prepping goes well, by the time of the hearing I will know that everything is in order, we will know our audience, we will be able to anticipate all the questions and answers, and so, for the most part, the result will be a foregone conclusion.

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