In The News

In The News

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Supreme Court 4th Amendment Precedent in the "Rodriguez" Case Leads to Complete Dismissal of Felony OWI Charges

By Michael Nichols
Categories: OWI

The Nichols Law Firm recently represented a client in the 80th District Court, which is Clare County Michigan. The county seat is Harrison.

The client was charged with Felony Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) because of an allegation that it was his third offense, which is what made it a felony charge.

After the NLF team broke down the case facts during a detailed consultation with a very frightened professional facing serious charges, we spent hours reviewing the police reports, body camera videos, and the other evidence available in the case.

The NLF team determined that the arresting officer did not have probable cause to arrest the client and committed several other egregious errors with the investigation. One of the glaring issues was that the officer, who responded to a minor 1 car accident involving a car that slid into the woods off a dirt road had no suspicion at all that the client was under the influence: no odor, no slurred words and not even a hint of impairment except for an admission of consuming a "couple" at the Eagles club. Despite that and AFTER the first officer told the man that he was free to leave, another officer showed up well over 20 minutes later with a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) device.

The numbers yielded by the PBT led to a short "re-investigation" and subsequent arrest, followed by a consensual blood draw. This is a violation of the principle set forth in the 2016 case "Rodriguez v United States" - which is that officers cannot simply prolong a traffic stop once the initial basis of the stop is satisfied (here checking the driver's welfare after a 1 car property damage accident).

There were several other details that made the investigation, arrest and prosecution a violation of the constitution and even if the prosecution did not satisfy pretrial motions on the constitutionality of the conduct: the case was extremely problematic for trial.

Attorneys Michael Nichols and Eric Schroeder, along with the assistance of paralegal Aaron Martinez filed a motion to suppress the evidence and a brief that thoroughly covered the relevant caselaw with a request to dismiss the charges because of this unlawful arrest, the prosecution agreed and issued a "nolle prosse" -- which is a Latin term for a motion to dismiss.

Thanks to the fact that we are "committed to results" - this worthy accused citizen gets his life back and hopefully, the officers involved will have an opportunity to make some improvements in their procedures and practices and the system as a whole will be just that much better.

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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.