In The News

In The News

Sunday, September 11, 2016

De-Criminalizing the First MIP in Michigan May Well Be Law Soon

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Minor in Possession

The house judiciary meets Tuesday morning in Lansing to consider Senate Bills 332 and 333. The bills are intended to de-criminalize the 1st Minor in Possession offense under Michigan Criminal Law. Currently, a minor, who is in possession of alcohol by either actual possession or by having consumed alcohol with a measurable bodily alcohol level, is guilty of a misdemeanor in Michigan. The 2 bills up for a vote in the Judiciary Committee amend MCL 436.1703, which is the Liquor Control Commission Act.

"There are a few concerns that I have with the bills," says Mike Nichols, a Lansing criminal defense attorney. Nichols' practice involves mostly the defense of individuals charged with crimes arising from the use of drugs or alcohol. Nichols says "first of all, the statute says that the judge can order a person who pleads responsible to a civil infraction to undergo substance abuse counseling or education and screening. Nichols says "a Judge cannot order someone to serve probation when they are responsible for a civil infraction - it is similar to a speeding ticket. So, unless the courts are going to start hosting contempt trials using the proper procedures we are going to see judges imposing meaningless orders." The first offense would be a state civil infraction if the person is found responsible.

Nichols points out a couple of positive aspects of the companion bill to the MIP de-criminalization statute. Senate Bill 333 will only allow the suspension of driving privileges if the person has been convicted 2 times previously for minor in possession AND admitted responsibility for a civil infraction. Nichols says "this legislation, if I read it correctly, gives a person 3 bites at the apple before their driving privileges are taken away." The bill would require the Secretary of State to suspend a driver license for 1 year for a 3rd offense and allow a judge to impose restricted driving privileges after 60 days.

The other major change is to correct language in the current minor in possession statute that allows an officer to "require' a minor suspected of violating the statute to take a preliminary or portable breath test (PBT) if the person is suspected of being a minor in possession. Nichols says "this is significant because far too many times police officers have arrested young people who look under 21 strictly because the person exercised his or her right to decline the PBT.

For the lawyers who are on the cutting edge and who are committed to results, call Mike Nichols and the lawyers at 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.