In The News

Friday, April 22, 2016

Did You Know That You Can Be Arrested for Drunk Driving in Your Own Driveway? The Michigan Court of Appeals Just Made it a Little Harder for Police

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Drunk-Driving, OWI

The Michigan Court of Appeals has held that driving drunk in one’s driveway does not create the type of danger the drunk driving laws were intended to avoid. The offense of Operating While Intoxicated under MCL 257.625, requires that the person be operating a motor vehicle on a highway or "other place open to motor vehicles or generally accessible to the public." The issue for the Court to decide in People of the State of Michigan v. Gino Robert Rea was whether Mr. Rea had operated his vehicle in an area that was “generally accessible to motor vehicles.” The Court ultimately stated that the “area of a private driveway between one’s detached garage and house is not such a place.”

On a late spring night in the city of Northville, Mr. Rea retreated to his garage where he sat in his Cadillac and listened to music. As an officer approached his home after repeated noise complaints, Mr. Rea drove his car approximately 25 feet from his garage. The officer’s testimony made clear that the vehicle remained in either the side or backyard of the home. The prosecution attempted to argue that because the driveway presented no barrier to entry, it was “generally accessible to motor vehicles.” The Court focused on the specific portion of the driveway in which Mr. Rea had driven his car. The portion of the driveway in question, and its proximity to private property, led the Court to conclude that dismissal of the charge was proper.

The Court went on to note that it’s analysis would differ depending on the nature of one’s driveway. Whether it is shared by neighbors, part of an apartment building, or if positioned in an area reasonably thought to intersect with a member of the general public may very well change the outcome in any particular case. For lawyers on the cutting edge of the law, call The Nichols Law Firm at 517.432.9000 and find out why we are 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.