Really odd situation here. Drivers don't sort of work usually. They either totally fail or totally work. I guess it could be some very poorly written driver that fails to identify your device and some buffer is being missed or such.
A driver for the most part is one of three ways. One is built in to the kernel. Most people see this and it just works out of the box. Two is they add in either to the kernel or outside kernel. Third is to use windows drives under ndiswrapper.
I'd boot to a live mint 13 cd/dvd and see if it fails there. Be sure to check the iso you have and burn at slowest speeds or make a live usb.
Modprobe is a tool for drivers. http://linux.die.net/man/8/modprobe
see bottom for other tools that help.