In The News

In The News

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Operating is not Sleeping in Your Car - DUI Myth Number 34

By Michael Nichols
Categories: Michael J. Nichols

The mechanical sleeping bag is how some people phrase it - but using your car to "sleep it off" is not violating Michigan's Drunk Driving law. "We recently obtained a dismissal in East Lansing because law enforcement made an arrest based on a misunderstanding of what it means to be 'operating,'" says Michigan drunk driving attorney Mike Nichols. The driver slept in her car outside her friend's house. She had a very high bodily alcohol content - but so long as the vehicle was not in gear - she was free and clear.

The term operating is defined in People v Wood, 450 Mich 399 (1995) as having the engine running AND the car in gear so that it "poses a danger." Nichols adds "many people recall the famous case of a former Michigan judge who was resting her eyes in a restaurant parking lot in Okemos. Charges against her were dismissed because there was no evidence that she was "operating" or had been operating in an intoxicated state," he adds. There is a lot of misperception out there about the term and how it is applied in drunk driving law - even among police officers and attorneys.

The key is if the vehicle is legally parked or at least not in the road or off to the side of the road because in that situation, the prosecutor can pursue a case through circumstantial evidence that the driver had been operating and was intoxicated when they were operating.

Mike Nichols is a leader in Michigan criminal law and literally wrote the book on DUI Law and Practice in Michigan for West Publishing. mnichols@nicholslaw.net or 517 927 4734.

Need a Lawyer?

Get an online consultation or call 517-432-9000

Online Consultation »

Do the Medicines You Take Criminalize Your Driving?

Family Law encompasses a broad range of issues that occur between family members. Our team, led by Colline DeVries-Burd, can help you in all of these areas...

More »

Personal Injury / Traumatic Brain Injury Experts

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is one of the most frightening and serious forms of injury...

More »

Criminal Defense

We are skilled, experienced and committed to resuts in both the serious and misdemenor criminal case

Personal Injury

We have successfully represented clients with serious and traumatic injuries

What our clients are saying

more testimonials »

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.