Michael J. Nichols

In The News

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why I Represent Drunk Drivers

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Michael J. Nichols


© By Michael J. Nichols
            I represent all cases aggressively. However, when it comes to the client charged with drinking and driving I find extra motivation and additional commitment to results. Drinking and driving was made criminal a century ago but society’s view has done more than make citizens who are charged with “drunk driving” criminals. Now it seems as if defendants in drunk driving cases don’t get the same rights that many other criminal defendants are afforded. Judges and prosecutors are political, because in Michigan, they are elected by the public. That dynamic makes judges hesitant to dismiss cases even when they should. Often, judges and prosecutors are more likely to make the case go to trial. That way, if the defendant is found not guilty, then it’s the jury’s fault. Then groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) can’t blame them, they can blame the result on the jury who listen to the silver-tounged defense attorney.
            There is so much more to a drinking and driving case than a “silver-tounge.” Every person is different. Every case is different. Michigan has established three ways to convict someone of drinking and driving. One of those ways is to prove that your bodily alcohol content was .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath or that your blood was .08 grams of alcohol per 100 liters of blood. But every person in this state and in this country is entitled to the right that you cannot be found guilty of a crime without proof. That proof must rise to the level that exceeds reasonable doubt.
            Many lawyers do not want to challenge evidence or even review the evidence that is available. Many lawyers look at a drunk driving case as an opportunity to charge fees and then hold their client’s hand through a plea and sentence. Do not get me wrong, sometimes aggressive representation means negotiating a plea and/or sentence agreement aggressively and guiding the client through the right steps toward rehabilitation with expertise and compassion.
However, many cases warrant not only a thorough examination of the evidence but a challenge to the evidence or even a trial: that might mean challenging the police officer’s arrest, challenging the science behind the blood evidence or challenging the mechanics of the instrument used to measure your breath alcohol content. Challenging a case requires effort and one important ingredient for a lawyer: pride. Your pride must carry you through a trial when the prosecutor and sometimes the judge, tries to stack the deck against your client; pride must carry you through a hearing when you are challenging the evidence or the officer’s actions, despite the judge’s pre-disposed skepticism. Pride. That is what drives me to approach drunk driving cases in a way that very few lawyers will approach them and to fight for people charged with drinking and driving in a way that very lawyers will: whether that means going to trial, filing a motion or negotiating a resolution to the case that is fair. Pride is what drives me to be committed to results.

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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.