In The News

In The News

Monday, June 4, 2018

Not Your Father's DUI in East Lansing, Meridian Township or Lansing: How Law Enforcement is Changing

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Drugged Driving

The officer stops you and you think that you have nothing to worry about as he or she walks back to the car with your license, insurance and registration. "I have not had a drop in me," you think to yourself. "I am on my depression medication but the doctor never told me not to drive."

Then it all unravels. The officer comes back and says "I detected some weaving. Are you sure you haven't been taking any prescription medication?" Wow - do you answer? You have been on Ketamine for about 2 weeks and you've been feeling great. Still -- the officer has you step from the car and asks you to tip your head back, close your eyes and count to yourself for what you think is 30 seconds. In the meantime, the officer is calling for a specially-trained Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE). Why? You confirmed that you took your prescription earlier.

A couple of points: the test described here is the "modified-Romberg" or "Romberg." It is an exercise that officers learn through government-funded training and it supposedly can detect potential impairment by drugs. The test was actually developed by German scientist Moritz Romberg in the 19th century to detect a patient who may be afflicted with Syphilis. The test is nothing more than a marker of the patient's gait. It is not magic. It is not science. It is a syphilis test.

Secondarily - the DRE is a specially-trained officer who is infused with thousands in taxpayer funding and a certificate from a program in Maricopa County, Arizona (that is right: the home of Sheriff Joe Arpaio). This training is supposed to make this officer essentially a doctor for a jury's consideration. In Ingham County, the DRE is Deputy Hoekesma. The DRE in Eaton County is Deputy Campbell.

The DRE program is still in a pilot stage in 5 counties in Michigan, but officers in many counties throughout Michigan are trained as DRE. The officer is supposedly able to diagnose the presence of one of 7 categories of drugs and impairment by the drug based on a 12-step program.

East Lansing criminal attorney Mike Nichols, who is author of the Michigan OWI Handbook by Thomsen Reuters West Publishing (A/K/A "The" drunk driving practice guide for Michigan lawyers), says that prosecutors are going all over the state promoting the so-called expertise of these DRE and the danger of people on the road with prescriptions in their system: "this is the new 'reefer madness,' Nichols says. He adds: "prosecutors want juries and judges ready to hyper-critize people who 'dare' to get behind the wheel -- just like with alcohol-driving cases."

Nichols says the idea is with alcohol-related offenses going down, the revenue to government coffers is going down with it. "You will hear prosecutors and the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan race around all sorts of anecdotal evidence about how drug use is changing, becoming more dangerous and how it is making our roads more dangerous." He adds that the propaganda is conflating the topics: "I was at a judge's association meeting this year and a prosecutor from PAAM was frenetically talking about kids huffing and using household products to get high with no evidence that there is some trend of kids inhaling PAM and getting behind the wheel. He was foaming at the mouth."

Nichols is studying drugs and the human brain. He will be presenting to the State Bar of Michigan Criminal Law Section as well as to Michigan Judges on drugged driving issues this summer.

For the leaders in the law who are committed to results, call thee Nichols Law Firm at 5174329000.

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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.