In The News

Monday, February 1, 2016

A New Sobriety Test in Michigan Drunk Driving Investigations (OWI) Based On Paperless Insurance Certificate Law?

By Michael Nichols
Categories: OWI

Beware of police taking notes and taking you to task in the police report for appearing to be drunk if you fumble through your phone, iPad or Tablet for electronic proof of insurance. That is because of a legal update issued by the Michigan State Police gives officers instructions that they can order the person to go beyond just “showing” the electronic proof on an iPad or iPhone or other smart phone or device. Michigan DUI (OWI) Attorney Mike Nichols says “MCL 257.328 recently took effect and it allows all of us to simply show our proof of insurance from a smart phone or other electronic device as opposed to the traditional ‘paper-proof.’ However, I can see officers requiring drivers to type in an email or text address then watch the person to see if they fumble through the typing or handling of the device and scoring that as an indicator of intoxication by the driver.” Nichols is an attorney in East Lansing, who focuses the major part of his practice on drunk driving defense/OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) and OWID (Operating While Intoxicated by Drugs).

The most recent edition of the Michigan State Police Legal Update states: “A police officer may require the person to electronically forward the electronic copy of the certificate of insurance to a specified location provided by the police officer so the police officer may view it in a setting which is safer for the police officer to verify that the information contained in the certificate of insurance is valid and accurate,” (MSP Legal Update No. 120, January 19, 2016). Nichols says that “at least the update also makes it clear that the statute, (PA 135 of 2015) specifically does not give the officer the right to search through the entire electronic device just because the driver chooses to use the device to verify proof of insurance. In fact, the officer may not manipulate the device in any way absent a search warrant consistent with Riley v California.”

Meanwhile, Michigan police and prosecutors will converge in Port Huron on February 25th, 2016 for a “Nuts and Bolts of OWI Investigations” seminar. Nichols says “I tried to register – and they will not let me. I wish taxpayer dollars that fund Michigan prosecutors could be used to train everybody. I thought that the duty of a prosecutor was to seek justice – not learn how to win convictions no matter what.” For lawyers who are leaders, on the cutting edge and committed to results, call the Nichols Law Firm at 517.432.9000 or email Mike Nichols at mnichols@nicholslaw.net

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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.