The Nichols Law Firm is Michigan’s leading Drunk Driving Defense law firm. Nichols Lawyer Mike Nichols is regarded as an expert in Michigan on OWI/DUI/OUIL issues and published the book on Michigan Criminal Law and Procedure. Nichols Law is where Michigan turns to for criminal defense.

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Founded in 2006 by the husband and wife legal team of Mike and Wendy Nichols, the Nichols Law Firm has grown to become one of Michigan's most effective and successful law offices. Our team of Nichols Law Firm lawyers are nationally recognized leaders in the areas of DUI, Marijuana, Family, Divorce, and Personal Injury Law. Attorney Mike Nichols has been repeatedly recognized as a SuperLawyer by Thomsen Reuters West for Criminal Law, in addition to authoring the Michigan OUI Handbook for WestLaw. No matter how big or how small the situation you find yourself in may be, you can trust that there is an honest and fearless advocate at the Nichols Law Firm waiting to help you get the results you need.

Having a run-in on the wrong side of the law can be the most nerve wracking experience one can face. The Nichols Lawyers know that the first question you likely think of after your arrest is “what’s next?” Being convicted of a crime can change your life forever. Whether you’re charged with OWI, Marijuana Possession, Misconduct in Office, or homicide, having a dedicated criminal defense team can mean all the difference in the outcome you experience. For people who are dependent on their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to live, they have no option but to fight the charges against them and avoid a license suspension.

With OWI or Drug Use charges, science matters. The Nichols Lawyers are nationally recognized leaders in challenging the police science and legal tactics being used against you. After years of fighting for scientific fairness, Mike Nichols secured a court decision which changed the face of forensic measurement in Michigan and states around the country by requiring that courts verify the validity of science being used against an accused person.

We are proud to have earned our reputation of being hardworking in every field we practice. Attorney Wendy Schiller-Nichols has tirelessly worked for more than defending the rights drivers who have been hurt in an accident by an at-fault driver. Attorney Karen Phillips has been recognized as a rising star on the coveted SuperLawyers list for her work on complex criminal and family law issues, including Driver’s License Restorations. Attorney James Heos has spent 40 years fighting for the rights of his injured clients and securing million dollar verdicts. Attorney Stephanie Tzafaroglou has been the driving force at the center of monumental court decisions from all over the state of Michigan. Her research and briefs have helped change Michigan law for her clients, including many high profile cases.

Hiring the Nichols Law Firm does not just provide you with an attorney on your case; you’re hiring our full team. From the ground up, your case will be given the attention it deserves starting at the moment you walk into our office. We encourage you to browse our website to find more information about the law, police science, and how you can help your Nichols Lawyer build a strategy to secure the result that you need to move past your current legal issue. Through our commitment to results, we are excited to earn your trust.

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Holiday Hints to Stay Out of Jail and Avoid a Probation Order as Part of Your 2017 Memory

It’s the holiday season. Happy holidays from the Nichols Law firm. Remember, we may not all celebrate the same holiday but whatever holiday you recognize we all are potential targets for law enforcement. Remember that drug recognition experts are now taking part in a pilot project with roadside saliva instruments. You do not need to be driving in one of the 5 counties to be a target of a ‘drug recognition evaluator’ analysis. Sometimes officers are detaining people so that a ‘dre’ can come conduct an evaluation and support an arrest for ‘drugged driving’ What should you do? Some advice from Michigan DUI attorney, Mike Nichols. Be safe this holiday season. From the lawyers who are committed to results: The Nichols Law Firm.

Mike Nichols Educates Michigan Judges on Drugged Driving


Mike Nichols was invited to speak to the Michigan Judicial Institute on drugged driving issues for the annual MJI Winter Conference. Co-Presenting was Mr. Ken Stecker, the Traffic Safety Prosecutor for the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan (PAAM). Mr. Nichols said that it was surprising to see what some judges had no idea what was going on with Michigan law and drugs in the human body: “It was eye opening to hear the degree to which judges are in need of education about the metabolism of controlled substances like prescription drugs and even marijuana in the body. There is a lot of misinformation and misperception out there.”

Mr. Nichols also gave the same presentation, entitled “Not Your Father’s DUI,” to the National College for DUI Defense at their Winter Session in Atlanta, Georgia on January 19th. He is available to deliver his presentation to Michigan law firms and legal associations over the course of 2018 as changes to the law go into effect. To book Mr. Nichols for a presentation, call the Nichols Law Firm at (517) 432-9000.

The DRE As A Weapon: How the Government’s Own Evidence Can Be Used Against It

The difference between “a good effort” and a winning case often comes down to strategy. It can be so frustrating to see and hear the prosecutors fall face forward into the vat of kool aid that is law enforcement’s “opinion” about why a person is guilty. But just like a good judo fighter uses the weight of his opponent against him, so does a good Drugged Driving Attorney.

In one case, the prosecutor had a big-bad Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE – or -- as they like to call them: “Drug Recognition Expert”). There was just one problem: there was no way that he got it right. The 1st clue? He said that the subject was “impaired” by a central nervous stimulant and a central nervous system depressant.

Let’s break that down: a stimulant – something that gets you “fired up;” gives you energy; makes you anxious. But that’s … not … all: a central nervous depressant – something that “bring you down;” depletes your energy; makes you relaxed.

Do you see the problem?

Apparently, law enforcement did not see the problem.

Let us break this down. A stimulant and a depressant have the exact opposite effect on the nervous system. I consulted with many medical doctors and pharmacologists/toxicologists about these issues (and this case). I also hired a former police officer, who holds a Ph.D. in the horizontal gaze nystagmus phenomenon. Here is what they tell me almost uniformly: police officers cannot possibly be trained to make a diagnosis in 30 minutes on a roadside or in a police station that a human being is “impaired” by a drug category.

The DRE protocol is based on training that turns police officers into doctors. It is approximately 72 hours. The officers are ultimately trained to be able to give an opinion that 1 or more of 7 categories of drugs are on-board a suspected “drugged driver” and that the person is impaired – essentially based on hearsay statements by the arresting officer. That is not all: the officer also incorporates into his DRE opinion the performance by the individual suspect on standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). These SFSTs are: the aforementioned horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test; the Walk and Turn and the One Leg Stand (WAT and OLS).

NHTSA’s own studies, including the 2015 study on marijuana impairment, has never correlated the SFST’s to drug impairment.

So what do we do about it? There is such a thing as a “Daubert” challenge. The Daubert challenge can go one of two directions: the lawyer opposing specific testimony challenges the scientific grounds or, the lawyer challenges the scientific grounds to the specific case facts. We call this in Michigan: the application of the opinion to the facts of the case.

In a recent case in Washtenaw County, a jury was seated for a trial that was set to start about a month later. The young assistant prosecutor was provided a report by Dr. Lance Platt that pointed out deficiencies in the manner in which the DRE officer applied the alleged principles and methods of DRE to the facts of the case. Part of the concern was that the officer predicted something was in her system and impairing the subject yet, “the something” was never found in her system.

So, in response, we moved as a counter-motion to exclude any opinion testimony from the DRE. We pointed out that we were going to let the prosecutor attempt to lay the foundation in front of the jury but since she picked the fight: we had not only an answer but a motion to exclude of our own.

The judge agreed with us.

The prosecutor was then left with testimony by the arresting officer of “speed changes” on US 23 and failure by the subject of the so-called SFSTs (remember – these have only been validated for predicting alcohol levels and have never been correlated with drugs in a person’s system. Oh yeah, the citizen-accused’s doctor was going to testify that what was found in her blood is exactly what he expected in the exact same amount.

Finally, the prosecutor dismissed the case.

The lesson here is that the DRE is a dangerous tool for prosecutors in the newest prosecutorial strategy: drugged driving. However, the lawyer never has to fear what a DRE is going to say in a courtroom IF the lawyer is willing to take some time to become immersed in what assumptions and fallacies are behind the entire methodology of the DRE protocol. Ultimately, when the accused citizen either looks sober or has an explanation for any anomaly in her mental and physical condition, the citizen has a fighting chance. First and foremost, though, is to get up to date on the law and the science.

Mike Nichols is the author of the OWI Manual for Michigan Lawyers by West Publishing and is the co-founder of the Nichols Law Firm, PLLC. Nichols is on the faculty of the National College for DUI Defense as well as the Rules and Laws Committee of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM).

The 6th Circuit Stays a Lower Court Order on Michigan Driver License Suspensions

The 6th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals granted a stay to the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) but hinted that the reprieve is only temporary. A group of driver license holders sued the SOS over the practice of suspending driver licenses over unpaid tickets, without first holding a hearing on the ability of the person to pay. The case is titled Fowler, Harris, et al v Ruth Johnson.

The lower court granted a preliminary injunction in mid-December, preventing the SOS from suspending driver licenses until further notice. U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker issued the ruling on December 14th, 2017 - holding that the state was not permitted to summarily suspend driver licenses without a hearing first on "ability to pay" primarily because the practice affected poor people inordinately.

The SOS filed an emergency appeal with the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit of the United States, seeking to put a hold on a lower federal court ruling. The 6th Circuit granted the stay for 30 days effective December 28th, 2017. However, the appellate panel said that "the likelihood of success on the merits" of the appeal was not demonstrated by lawyers for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. The Court held that the lower court should give the state more guidance on what specific actions should be taken in order to comply with the ruling.

The appellate panel remanded the matter back to the district court for the limited purpose of modifying the relief granted so as to give state officials direction on the type of process is required in order to comply with its order.

Under current Michigan Law, the Secretary of State must immediately suspend the license of a driver, who does not pay a traffic ticket within 42 days. MCL 257.321a(2). After the license is suspended, the driver must pay the underlying ticket, late fee, and a $45 clearance fee to have the ticket reinstated. MCL 257.321a(5).

A Civil rights organization "Equal Justice Under Law" filed the lawsuit on behalf of the affected plaintiffs, arguing that the statute violates procedural due process and unfairly prejudices those who cannot afford to pay traffic tickets. One report states that Michigan is one of the 5 harshest states in the country for suspending drivers licenses for unpaid tickets. The preliminary injunction stops the suspension of licenses for unpaid tickets pending the resolution of the underlying tickets.

Suspensions due to unpaid tickets are often the basis of Driving While License Suspended (DWLS) charges- a misdemeanor criminal offense with additional fines and costs with a separate reinstatement fee paid to the Michigan Secretary of State. Many drivers are not aware their license is suspended. It is not until they are stopped by law enforcement and charge with DWLS are they aware of the suspension.

If you are battling the Secretary of State over a license suspension, find out why we are committed to results: contact the Nichols Law Firm at (517) 432-9000; or e-mail attorney Stephanie Tzafaroglou at

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2017 Audit of the Michigan State Police Forensic Lab Confirms Deficiencies in Blood Alcohol Methods

The auditor in charge of accrediting the Michigan State Police Forensic Lab identified deficiencies in parts of the method used in the lab, and some of those included issues that were pointed out by attorney Mike Nichols in court over a year and a half prior to the audit. 1 of the deficiencies relates to the failure of the lab to properly calibrate a critical part of the process of blood alcohol testing.

The “auto-pipetter-diluter” is the part of the method that mixes the alleged blood of the subject arrest with an internal standard and some de-ionized water in a vial. The vial is later capped and heated. Gas that forms within the vial in an air-pocket of sorts above the liquid is what is eventually injected into the gas chromatograph for analysis. The lab was only having the pipetter-diluter calibrated at 400 microliters, which is no longer the volume that is used when the unknown blood specimen is mixed with a known alcohol solution and water. The lab supervisor, Geoffrey French, doubled the volume in 2013 in response to evidence presented in a high-profile trial that cross contamination was occurring so that blood alcohol from prior samples were getting mixed in with other case samples, leading to an artificially high bac being reported.

“The irony is that making the commitment to have the proper volume used in the calibration and sending that instrument to a calibration lab is not difficult – it is just a little more time consuming and slightly more expensive,” says Michigan DUI attorney Mike Nichols. He adds “it was so frustrating in court when judges refused to understand or acknowledge this problem and especially now that the lab’s own accrediting body told the lab to fix it.”

The lab received several non-conforming actions, including for disciplines other than toxicology. Download the full assessment report here.

Michigan Criminal Attorney Mike Nichols Has Some Advice for People and Reflections on a Successful Defense of a Client in a So-Called Title 9 Investigation at Michigan State University

Regardless of the outcome or status of a criminal investigation and prosecution, universities who receive federal funding have an obligation to investigate a violation of the policy that is created under title 9 of the United States Code. This law essentially establishes that universities are prohibited from creating or allowing discrimination based on gender, race, sexual orientation or several other factors. The first step is an investigation by the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE).

The OIE process starts with interviewing both the claimant and the respondent, who may be your son someday. Do not allow your son and do not walk into if you are the student who is suspected walk into an OIE interview. Anything you say can and will be used against you. Typically, it does not help to make a statement and create a fact controversy where it is your word against her word. Act like you have something to prove and quickly marshal or locate witnesses who can give your side of the story on your behalf. It is always a good idea to attempt to find witnesses for your lawyer as soon as possible. For a lawyer, using your client as a resource is never a bad idea because no one knows the case better than him.

Do the Medicines You Take Criminalize Your Driving?

Specially-trained police officers called "drug recognition experts" or "DREs" are spreading across Michigan...

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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is one of the most frightening and serious forms of injury...

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Peer Recognition

Mike Nichols is a national leader in drunk driving defense. He is a member of the Forensic Committee and Michigan delegate to the National College for DUI Defense. He is also a Sustaining Member of the College. Nichols is also a founding member of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys; a member of the American Chemical Society; an associate member of he American Academy of Forensic Science, Adjunct Professor of Forensic Evidence in Criminal Law and OWI Law and Practice at Cooley Law School. He is also author of the West OWI Practice book and several chapters in other books on science and the law.

Mike Nichols is recognized by his peers in Michigan as a “SuperLawyer” in DUI/Criminal Defense. Nichols has also been asked to speak at conferences by groups such as the NCDD; Various Bar Associations in other states.