In The News

Saturday, October 4, 2014

East Lansing Jury Just Says No to Convicting an MSU student of Minor in Possession

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Michael J. Nichols, Drunk-Driving, OWI

 A jury in East Lansing has said "not guilty" in a trial involving a charge of Minor in Possession (MIP). East Lansing Criminal attorney Mike Nichols says the verdict was a step in the right direction: "the officers are trying to coerce these kids to take a PBT by arresting them if they refuse and they hope the word gets around so that kids always blow," Nichols says.

The PBT is the easiest way for law enforcement to get evidence of a bodily alcohol content - which is one way to prove the charge of Minor in Possession. Nichols says "under the case People vs Rutledge, the prosecutor has to prove that either the minor possessed alcohol directly or indirectly or had a bodily alcohol content - prior consumption is NOT enough to convict because you cannot be said to be possessing or consuming alcohol that you are digesting.

In this case, the 18 year old MSU student was walking home from an off campus party with 2 other students. All 3 made admissions but 1. "Our client said he had not been drinking that night but that he drank 'earlier in the day,'" Nichols said. He adds "That was key to opening up the door under Rutledge. The prosecutor was forced to try to prove the bodily alcohol content through a test called the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus."

The Nichols Law Firm team retained the services of Ron Henson, PhD, who testified to the alternative causes of "HGN," the test's limitations and the proper administration of the test. It took the jury roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes to return a verdict that simply maintained the status quo by declaring "not guilty." Nichols says "it was the right thing to do - this is coercion by reputation. If you refuse the PBT - you may have to sit in jail - but what price is your record worth to you?"

For the attorneys who are committed to results no matter how "minor" the case may seem - call the Nichols Law Firm at 517.432.9000.

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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.