Michigan's Supreme Court Opinion on Driveway Drunk Driving Does not Surprise One of Michigan's Leading DUI Lawyers

Drunk Driving in Michigan is Called ‘Operating While Intoxicated.

In Michigan, the specific statute for a so-called “drunk driving” charge is called “Operating While Intoxicated.” Some believe that the legislature specifically used this phrase at the request of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) so as to avoid confusion between prosecutions of alcohol-based DUI cases and drug-based DUI cases. Drugs could be anything from specifically illegal drugs like cocaine or marijuana – if you are not a patient – to prescription medications if you purposefully took more than you are prescribed yet still operated a motor vehicle. The first word is “operating.” What does that mean? The Michigan Supreme Court has defined operating to mean “actual physical control” based on MCL 257.35 and accordingly, you must do something to put the vehicle in a place in which it poses a danger to the safety of persons or property. If you have done nothing to put the vehicle in that position, then the prosecutor has to prove that you had the ignition on and put the vehicle in gear, such as in the cases of City of Plymouth v Longeway or in People v Wood.

In July, 2017, Mike Nichols won a not guilty verdict when a jury agreed with him that the Nichols Law Firm’s client did nothing to put his vehicle in gear with the ignition on and the client walked away from the courthouse with a refund of his bond and his commercial driver license intact.

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Also in July, 2017, The Michigan Supreme Court issued a ruling in People v Rea regarding whether a residential driveway can be a prohibited area for operating while intoxicated. The Supreme Court reversed a Court of Appeals opinion. The Court of Appeals ruled previously that the dismissal by a district court in Oakland County of OWI charges against Gino Rea was proper. The district court ruled that the upper portion of Mr. Rea’s driveway near his garage was not open to the public or generally accessible to motor vehicles. The MSC reversed and reinstated charges against Mr. Rea, ruling that the key issue was the phrase “generally accessible to motor vehicles.” In a concurring opinion, Justice Joan Larsen ruled that a better case to analyze the operation of the statute was one in which a person was operating in a driveway or parking lot with a gate or some sort of indicator that neither the public nor motor vehicles had access. For the attorneys on the cutting edge of DUI/Criminal law and who are committed to results, call the Nichols Lawyers 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.