St. Louis County Municipal court revenue down since Ferguson unrest

Looks as if the amount of revenue from St. Louis area municipal courts is way down since the social unrest in 2014 after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. This is according to research tabulated in an annual report by the Missouri state court system.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch tabulated information from the report and found that the data shows there has been a significant drop in revenue collected by municipal courts in St. Louis County.  Revenue was down from $53 million in fines and fees collected in year ending June 2014 to $29 million in year ending June 2016.

A similar trend can be seen in the number of traffic cases in the city of St. Louis.  The number of traffic cases filed last year fell to 66,008. This represents a drop of 69 percent compared to two years ago.

The data shows that the number of Read the rest

Looking for insurance after your DUI/DWI conviction?

You were arrested and convicted of a DUI/DWI in Missouri and now must file proof of insurance with the Driver License Bureau.  You are wondering what you need to do because you will need proof of insurance for two years.

SR-22 Insurance

What is SR-22?  SR-22 stands for “safety responsibility.”  It is a documented proof that you have automobile insurance. The SR-22 is not the insurance policy; it’s just evidence that you have a policy.  The SR-22 is prepared by an insurance company.  The insurance company then files the SR-22 with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

SR-22 is usually mandated when a driver is attempting to reinstate their driver’s license after a conviction for DUI, driving without insurance, reckless driving, or some driving violation that has suspended the license. Whether you own a vehicle or not, SR-22 may be required.  It is required for several years.  For example, a Read the rest

Court of Appeals strikes down ordinance establishing new police standards

A recent Eastern District of Missouri Court of Appeals ruling struck down an ordinance establishing new police standards in St. Louis County.

St. Louis County had enacted an ordinance authorizing the County Executive to impose countywide minimum police standards.  However, the cities affected by that ordinance filed a petition to have it invalidated. 

The trial court had ruled that the county had no authority to enact the ordinance.  The Court of Appeals affirmed. 

The reasoning was as follows: The Missouri Constitution provides that certain exercises of legislative authority be subject to a county-wide vote. At the same time, the state’s constitution also allows a county charter to authorize any action permitted by statute, including public health standards.  The Court says standards of police conduct fall within public safety and not public health as public health is limited to preventing disease.  Furthermore, the Court held that the county’s authority to legislate Read the rest

City of Florissant has been sued in Federal Court

The City of Florissant has been sued  in Federal Court in a class action lawsuit on October 31, 2016 alleging a de facto debtor’s prison system. ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit organization providing civil representation and legal counsel, joined with a Washington DC firm are representing the Plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleges Constitutional violations under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and due process clause and the 6th Amendment’s right to counsel and the right to a hearing to determine a person’s inability to pay.

Allegations include “thousands [were] denied their civil rights while Florissant made $14 million. The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division seeks injunctive, declaratory and compensatory relief for the plaintiffs and thousands of class members.  The allegations continue indicating that City officials used municipal codes and petty justifications such as unpaid parking tickets to target residents and jail them.

Conditions … Read the rest

Court explains annual DWI breath tester calibration requirement

The Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District handed down an opinion that better explains the calibration of breath testing devices used in DWI cases. The court ruled that the annual certification of the device, which regulations state it be done “annually,” must be taken literally. Annually means within 365 days. The Court went on to say that the purpose of the annual test is to make sure that the BAC tester is accurate when used. The case is MICHAEL RAY SLEDD, Petitioner-Respondent, v. DIRECTOR OF REVENUE, Respondent-Appellant. Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District – SD34272

Any other explanation such as how close to the use of the tester was the simulator certified, or how close to trial for an alcohol-related offense was the simulator certified is irrelevant. The court said that the circuit court erred when it excluded results of a breath test based on the certification of the stimulator. … Read the rest

Missouri relaxes penalties for 1st time pot possession charges

As of January 1st, 2017 the State of Missouri has relaxed penalties regarding possession of marijuana. These apply to charges brought be a state agency. Municipalities, such as Maryland Heights, may or may not have their own rules for enforcement of possession infractions.

For a first time possession of less than 10 grams there is no incarceration. This charge will be classified as a Class D Misdemeanor. The maximum fine associated with a Class D Misdemeanor is $500.00. 10 grams is more than a quarter ounce, but less than half an ounce. This only applies to first time offenders with less than 10 grams.

Previous pleas of guilty to possession of marijuana or possession of 10 – 35 grams will result in the charge being classified as a Class A Misdemeanor. Penalties for a Class A Misdemeanor are up to 1 year in jail and up to $2,000 Read the rest

Law enforcement ups efforts to prevent DWIs over holidays

Watch out for intoxicated drivers this holiday season.  At least that’s what Missouri Highway Patrol is planning to do.  Law enforcement agencies around the country are expected to step up their efforts to curtail drinking and driving these next couple weeks.

Many law enforcement agencies from across the nation will be participating in an initiative called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

According to news reports, the Missouri State Highway Patrol intends to increase the number of officers and checkpoints for the holidays.  Law enforcement officials say the combination of bad weather such as ice and snow plus driving impaired leads to a significant number of accidents.

Many Missouri courts will punish the first time DWI offender with some combination of fines, jail time, probation, community service, victim impact panels, and treatment through DWI courts.  They hope to curtail the number of DWI’s and DWI repeat offenders.   Missouri in 2015 Read the rest

MADD lowers grade on efforts by Missouri, Illinois to prevent drunk driving

Missouri and Illinois slipped in how Mothers Against Drunk Driving ranked both states’ efforts to prevent drunk driving.

MADD recently released its annual overview ranking each state’s progress in stopping drunken driving. There are five areas to judge and rank each state. They include the following:

1) How sobriety checkpoints are conducted;

2) The degree of punishments for putting children in danger;

3) Whether or not ignition interlocks are required, which is a machine that prevents a car from starting if a driver’s blood-alcohol level exceeds a certain limit;

4) Whether drivers licenses are revoked; and

5) The degree of punishment for refusing a blood-alcohol test.

It was just last year that Missouri and Illinois received the highest rating of five stars. This was the first year that a new half-star ranking was used in order to provide a more nuanced analysis of each category.  This year both Missouri and Read the rest

Class action lawsuit filed against the City of Florissant

The City of Florissant has been sued  in Federal Court in a class action lawsuit on October 31, 2016 alleging a de facto debtor’s prison system. ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit organization providing civil representation and legal counsel, joined with a Washington DC firm are representing the Plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleges Constitutional violations under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection and due process clause and the 6th Amendment’s right to counsel and the right to a hearing to determine a person’s inability to pay. Allegations include “thousands [were] denied their civil rights while Florissant made $14 million. The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division seeks injunctive, declaratory and compensatory relief for the plaintiffs and thousands of class members.

The allegations continue indicating that City officials used municipal codes and petty justifications such as unpaid parking tickets to target residents and jail Read the rest

St. Louis City offering warrant grace period

For the more than 51,000 people who have an outstanding warrant issued by the City of St. Louis, Mayor Francis Slay is providing some relief until October 28, 2016.

The City Municipal Court will lift warrants for non-violent charges for those that come in to the Court or one of the satellite offices. Warrants for Driving While Intoxicated and Leaving the Scene of an Accident will not be lifted without a bond. Warrants issued by the St. Louis City Circuit Court are not eligible under this program.

To find out if you have a warrant you can go to MuniCourt.net. This website is searchable by name, ticket number, court date, license number or violation date. Those who do not take advantage of this grace period and reschedule their court dates will have the warrants reinstated at 12:01 am on October 29, 2016. In order to take advantage of this grace Read the rest

Man’s life ruined by Ferguson Court System

St. Louis native, Fred Watson, was watching baseball in his legally parked car in August of 2012 after playing basketball in Ferguson. Mr. Watson had frequented this specific park for many years.

Ferguson Police Officer, Eddie Boyd, III, parked his car in front of Watsons. The officer requested Watsons social security number, but as he was doing nothing wrong, Watson declined.  Officer Boyd then pulled his gun, removed Watson from the vehicle and arrested him for Driving without a license, failure to have insurance, failure to register and tinting his windows. Watson had his license, his car was registered in Florida and he had insurance.  Pursuant to Florida law, his windows were not excessively tinted. Watson was taken to jail where he posted a $700.00 bond to be released.

After he complained about the way he was treated, Ferguson added two more charges, including failure to comply with a police Read the rest

Jennings to pay millions for jailing people for court debts

The City of Jennings, Mo., will pay $4.7 million for jailing some 2,000 mostly poor, black residents for unpaid court debts.  Many of the individuals had been charged with traffic violations.

The agreement with the small municipal in North St. Louis County is part of a class-action lawsuit preliminarily approved by a Missouri federal judge.

The deal with Jennings, if approved, would be the largest settlement with a  U.S. municipal to resolve incarceration practices based on unpaid fines and court costs.

The lawsuit was brought by ArchCity Defenders of St. Louis, which represented eight lead plaintiffs.  Lawyers from the Saint Louis University School of Law and Washington-based Equal Justice Under Law also collaborated.  Attorneys have argued that jailing people who are in poverty and who cannot afford to pay fines and fees is unconstitutional.

 The City of Jennings, population 14,700, is represented by attorney D. Keith Henson.  The settlement also Read the rest

New Missouri law bans traffic quotas, changes use-of-force laws

Missouri’s Governor Jay Nixon signed a new crime related bill that updates youth sentencing laws, changes use-of-force statutes, and bans traffic ticket quotas.

Changes will go into effect in 2018 and also make it easier to seal conviction records for some crimes. Currently state laws require a 20 year waiting period to file for an expungement of felonies and 10 years for misdemeanors. The new law reduces the waiting period for felonies to 7 years and 3 years for misdemeanors.  The cost to file is $250 and the person must not have received any other convictions during the waiting period.  Those convicted of dangerous felonies, domestic assault, certain violent crimes and sex offenses will not be eligible.

The legislation, approved by large margins in both the House and Senate, is designed to help former criminals find employment more easily. Records would be sealed from public viewing but prosecutors and police … Read the rest

High Court ruling forces police to get warrant for BAC tests

States that made it a crime for drivers suspected of drunken driving to refuse alcohol tests now will find it more difficult to obtain evidence in some circumstances.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police must get a search warrant before forcing drivers to take a blood alcohol test.  Breath tests done by blowing into a machine were considered less intrusive and therefore no warrant is required.

There were three cases involving drivers who challenged what are known as “implied consent laws.”  The cases, brought in Minnesota and North Dakota, claimed that the implied consent law violated the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. The decisions had been upheld in each State’s supreme court.

The Court’s ruling affects laws in eleven states that had imposed additional criminal penalties for suspects who refused drunk driving tests.  Drivers in all states can have their licenses revoked for refusing.  Besides Minnesota and Read the rest

Missouri Legislature trying to stop ticket quotas

In May, the Missouri Legislature passed a law banning law enforcement agencies from setting quotas for traffic citations. The Bill is currently awaiting signature from Governor Nixon. The Bill was sponsored by Senate Republican Eric Schmitt from Glendale. He indicated the law was necessary to prevent local law enforcement agencies from using police officers to pad their budgets. For example, the Mayor of Edmundson sent a letter to the city’s police officers telling them they needed to issue more tickets in order to help pay their salaries.

Currently only St. Louis County has restrictions on traffic citations quotas. This new law would expand to all law enforcement agencies in the state. Punishments for violation of this new law could include Class A misdemeanor charges against city officials who order employees to issue a certain number of traffic citations.  Read the rest

Failure to follow instructions can count as a refusal

The Western District Court of Appeals has issued an opinion adding clarification as to what constitutes a refusal of a breathalyzer. In this case, Rader vs. DOR, WD78880, Rader agreed to take the breath test. Pursuant to trial court testimony, Rader blocked the mouthpiece of the instrument with his upper lip when he first attempted to blow. This resulted in the machine indicating that it was an insufficient sample. He was informed of this issue, but continued to place his lip over the mouthpiece on subsequent attempts also resulting in insufficient sample readings. Then, according to testimony, he indicated he wasn’t going to blow again and sat down. The Officer then noted it as a refusal to submit to a breath test.

The Appellate Court indicates that “the issue of whether a driver has refused to submit to a chemical analysis test is a question of fact to be decided Read the rest

Citizens may get chance to vote red light camera tickets out

The Missouri House of Representatives recently moved legislation that would allow citizens to determine what to do with red light cameras. State Representative Bryan Spencer (R-Wentzville) introduced the ballot measure by voice vote.  The bill will receive a final vote in the state House after a fiscal review of it.

The bill then would need to be passed by the Senate and signed into law.

The bill calls for asking voters whether they want to stop cities from making new deals with red light and speed camera companies.

The bill allows jurisdictions with existing automated ticketing programs one year to wind down their contracts and shut the cameras down. The proposal also prohibits the mailing of automated citations.
Known as House Bill 1945, it calls for motorists who get a red light ticket to receive in person notification from a law enforcement officer working with the agency issuing the ticket.  … Read the rest

Judge finds municipal court reform law unconstitutional

Several North St. Louis County Municipalities have emerged victorious in their lawsuit regarding the municipal court reform laws passed into law in August of 2015. The Municipalities of Normandy, Cool Valley, Velda Village Hills, Glen Echo Park, Bel-ridge, Bel-nor, Pagedale, Moline Acres, Uplands Park and Vinita Park filed a lawsuit in November of 2015 alleging Senate Bill 5 was unlawful.

A Judge in Cole County agreed with them and struck down several portions of the law. The law reduced the amount of money a municipality could receiving from traffic ticket revenue to 12.5% from the 30% previously allowed. The 12.5% was limited only to the St. Louis County area due to the wording in the statute. The municipalities alleged that this 60% reduction with no alternative forms of funding would wreak havoc on St. Louis County Municipalities. Moreover, municipalities in the St. Louis County area would be required to undergo Read the rest

Village of Four Seasons opposes new Senate Bill

Senate Bill 572 is a continuation of the Missouri Senate’s attempt to regulate the municipal court system throughout the state. This new bill adds zoning and nuisance ordinance violations to the calculation of minor traffic violations. The annual percentage of operating revenue that a municipality can receive from these types of fines and court costs has been lowered from 30% to 20%. Furthermore, the fines would be lowered from $300 to $200.

The Village of Four Seasons has gone on record opposing this new bill. Village Attorney, Todd Miller, told legislators, “We reasonably anticipate that the passage of the bill will be far reaching and will cause the closure of many other municipal courts in Missouri in that ours is likely an exemplary model of how courts should be run.”

The Missouri Municipal League also opposes the bill. The MML says the bill:

  • Lessens a city’s ability to rehabilitate neighborhoods
Read the rest

Breathalyzer testing solutions need only to come from approved supplier.

Last week the Appellate Court in the Eastern District of Missouri heard two cases regarding the regulations for maintenance of breathalyzer machines.

In these cases, the drivers argued that their breath tests should not be admitted as the mixture used to perform maintenance checks on the breathalyzer was not proved from an approved supplier.  In both cases, maintenance reports indicated the supplier was Intoximeters, an approved supplier from the Department of Health and Senior Services. Airgass was the manufacturer. Airgas is not listed as an approved supplier. The drivers maintained the testing solution needed to be supplied and manufactured by an approved supplier.  Without meeting this component, the Driver’s stated the Director of Revenue failed to lay a proper foundation to admit the results of the breath test.

While the Department of Health and Senior Services regulations once required that the manufacturer certify the solutions, the regulation no longer makes Read the rest

Audits find problems in MO courts outside St. Louis County

Apparently, St. Louis County is not alone in its controversial municipal court practices. A recent state audit of municipal courts has found problems in counties such as Jasper, Clay and Lincoln.

The recent audits from December and January by Missouri’s state auditor has lent credence to arguments that questionable court practices in a select few St. Louis County municipals could be a state-wide problem. The audits are part of 10 state-wide audits to be conducted.

The audits previously were tailored towards accounting practices but have now been expanded to consider practices that could damage the court’s credibility or treat people unfairly. Statistical data on traffic tickets, warrants and penalties are now collected and evaluated.

Based on the new focus of court audits, five of four municipal courts that have been audited so far received “fair” to “poor” ratings on a four point scale that included “good” and “excellent.”

Problems in … Read the rest

Traffic ticket quotas and revenues argued in MO senate, courts

Two opposing sides in the debate to restrict revenue from municipal tickets were fighting it out in different ways last week.

Some 12 cities appeared before a Cole Count judge last Friday over whether to put a hold on a law that caps the amount of revenue cities can earn from traffic tickets. They argued that the legislation unfairly singles out the St. Louis area thereby violates the state constitution.

Missouri passed the law in response to community unrest in Ferguson over police tactics and municipal court fines. The U.S. Department of Justice has concluded municipal courts were being driven by profit motives to raise money rather than justice. Just this week, the DOJ has said it plans to sue the City of Ferguson for not implementing its suggestions to overhaul its police force and legal system.

The cities contend that an accreditation requirement for their police departments would cost … Read the rest

The NTSB wants to lower DWI legal limit to one drink, .05% BAC

The amount of alcohol you may consume before you drive could get even lower if the
National Transportation and Safety Board gets its way.

The NTSB wants to decrease the legal driving limit of blood-alcohol content
to .05 percent or lower, essentially limiting you to one drink or you will risk getting arrested for DWI.

The federal agency published a list of policies it would like to implement
nationally, a so-called “wish list.” In addition to lowering the BAC level
below .08 percent, it wants to outlaw all cell phone use when driving, even
using a hands-free device.

The NTSB argues that research shows most people are impaired once they
reach a BAC of .05 percent. The agency has long advocated that driving
while drinking is dangerous and that drugs other than alcohol can cause
impairment; over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, and illegal
drugs.

If adopted, a .05 percent BAC would … Read the rest

MO Supreme Court questions use of evidence in DWI cases

A recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling has cast a shadow on DWI cases involving the use of breath analyzers between December 2012 and February 2014. Thousands of cases may be impacted.

The case highlights a 14-month loophole that changed how breath analyzers are calibrated. The machines are expected to be calibrated every 35 days to ensure they are working correctly.

That was not the case for Kristin Stiers. Stiers was suspected of driving while intoxicated and stopped in 2013 by Lake St. Louis Police. The state high court ruled that the machine used by the police was improperly calibrated and the results of Stiers’ breath test be excluded from evidence. The court said her driving privileges should be reinstated.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services regulates breath analyzers. However, due to changed wording in their regulations on maintaining the machine, a loophole was created between December 2012 and … Read the rest

DUI dismissed when woman proves her body brews alcohol

A charge of DUI against a woman in upstate New York was dismissed on grounds that her body brews its own alcohol.

The woman, living in Hamburg, New York, blew a blood alcohol level of more than four times the legal limit but the local judge dismissed her DUI when her attorney presented evidence that she suffered from “auto-brewery syndrome.”

Her attorney began looking into the possibility of an alternative explanation to her elevated BAC levels when upon her release she was not exhibiting any signs of traditional intoxication, although her BAC levels were hitting levels of just under 0.40.

Auto-brewery syndrome, also known as gut-fermentation syndrome, is a rare medical condition that can occur when abnormal amounts of gastrointestinal yeast convert common food carbohydrates into ethanol. This condition is believed to take place in the small bowel, as opposed to the large bowel where a gut fermentation process occurs … Read the rest

MO Auditor finds ‘questionable’ fees in two traffic courts

An audit of two St. Louis-area communities raises questions about their traffic fine processes and how they have run their municipal courts.

A report from the Missouri State Auditor reviewed both St. Ann and Foristell municipals on how they have operated their courts. In Foristell, located in both St. Charles and Warren counties, the auditor was questioning whether a $100 warrant fee for individuals who failed to appear in court or pay their fines was proper. In 2014, the city generated more than $65,000 in warrant fees. The town of 500 residents has since stopped the practice.

In St. Ann, located near Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, the auditor found the police department had collected $38,000 through what was described as a questionable bond processing fee. The city has since stopped accepting cash bonds and, therefore, is no longer charging the fees that were questioned.

The audits are part of a … Read the rest

State Auditor has issued reports for Foristell and St. Ann

The State Auditor, Nicole Galloway, has begun looking into St. Louis-area municipalities regarding traffic revenue. These audits are due to the new law which limits fines, bans failure to appear charges for missing a court date, bans jail as a sentence for minor traffic offenses and restricts the revenue from court fines and fees.

Pursuant to the new law, cities are required to provide financial reports annually. Failure to do so could trigger loss of sales tax revenue and transfer of all pending cases to the county circuit court. Judges in each municipality must verify that the courts are in compliance.

Most recently Foristell, a municipality of 500, located on I-70 in St. Charles and Warren Counties the auditor’s office reviewed warrant fees. In the past, Foristell issued a $100 warrant fee for individuals that failed to pay their fines or appear in court. In 2014, this practice generated more Read the rest

Brentwood passes inattentive driving law

Brentwood recently passed a new measure to make inattentive driving akin to careless and imprudent. This includes things like adjusting a GPS or grooming in your vehicle.

Turning away from the road is “prima facie evidence that a vehicle operator is not exercising the highest degree of care.”

The measure was passed on Monday by the Brentwood Board of Alderman with a 5-2 vote. Opponents indicate that the language in the bill makes it discretionary if an offense has occurred.

Other prohibited activities include: “Using a mirror to engage in grooming; reading anything located in the vehicle other than operation information displayed on vehicle gauges and equipment; writing, drawing; manually imputing information into a GPS or mapping device; or turning one’s head substantially away from the path of travel to observe things in the vehicle or outside the vehicle but contrary to the path of travel. Read the rest

New Missouri bill proposed to limit municipal revenue for property violations

Sen. Eric Schmitt, the person behind the new law that limits the amount of revenue municipalities can keep from traffic cases, has created a new bill to cap revenue from ordinance violations. In the St. Louis County area the permitted amount of traffic fine revenue per municipality dropped from 30% of the operating budget to 12.5%. This new bill would put a cap on revenue from property code violations which Senator Schmitt hopes will pre-empt “a new taxation by citation scheme.”

The Post Dispatch reports Pagedale has been focusing enforcement on violations such as barbecuing in the front yard or having a beer within 150 feet of the grill. Currently, non-traffic citations are not subject to the cap.

However, Pagedale City Attorney, Sam Alton, stated “If the target is the housing code, the revenue is not what matters. What matters is a city’s ability to maintain its properties.” Further stating Read the rest

St. Louis cities sue to block limits on traffic ticket revenue

Twelve St. Louis North County municipals sued the state of Missouri last
week over a new law that limits their revenue from traffic violation fees
and fines.

The law, known as Senate Bill 5 and was passed in response to the civil
unrest after the Michael Brown shooting, goes into effect January 2016. St.
Louis County municipals are prevented from receiving more than 12 ½ percent
of its general operating revenue from traffic cases. By contrast, cities
outside St. Louis County are limited to 20 percent, which was reduced from
30 percent.

The plaintiffs are Cool Valley, Normandy, Glen Echo Park, Bel-Ridge,
Bel-Nor, Northwoods, Pagedale, Velda Village Hills, Uplands Park, Vinita
Park, Wellston and Moline Acres. Attorney David H. Pittinsky, of
Philadelphia, filed the plaintiffs’ lawsuit in Cole County.

The lawsuit argues the Legislature and governor acted unconstitutionally by
treating St. Louis County municipalities differently from other areas of the… Read the rest

Drunk cop made to skip MADD event honoring his DWI arrests

A Pinellas County, Florida, deputy was disciplined for drunken misbehavior at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) conference in Fort Lauderdale.

The deputy, Michael Szelig, was attending a two-day-statewide training program in July and also was there to accept a MADD award for his work making more than 100 DWI arrests. However, he showed up at the event intoxicated.

According to a news report that referenced a 274-page Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office internal affairs investigation, one witness said he arrived staggeringly drunk at the Friday night banquet. This was the same banquet he was to receive his MADD award in front of a crowd of 200 guests.

The news report stated that Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent spotted Szeliga outside of the banquet and confronted Szeliga about his intoxication and told him not to attend. Disrespectful comments were made by Szeliga toward Vincent. Vincent found Szeliga’s supervisor who ordered him … Read the rest

Will St. Ann stop the I70 enforcement?

St. Ann is a small city of less than 13,000 people that patrols a stretch of Interstate 70 near St. Louis’s Lambert Field. The sight of police cars lined up on this stretch of I70 is normal one for most St. Louis residents. According to reports, St. Ann has been able to replace a large amount of lost sales tax revenue with its traffic enforcement efforts. St. Ann lost the sales tax revenue when a mall shut down. In 2014, St. Ann issued approximately 8,000 traffic citations. The revenue from the municipal court rose to $2.6 million that year, more than doubling the amount collected in 2009.

Better Together, an organization critical of the St. Louis Area Municipal System, lists that St. Ann collected 37.47% of its revenue from municipal court fines and fees. This number is disputed by St. Ann officials. Prior to the recent law going into effect … Read the rest

St. Louis Municipalities are seeing a drop in traffic ticket revenue

The St. Louis Area has had quite a bit of criticism over the years due to its municipal court system. The St. Louis area alone has over 81 different municipal courts. Each court has its own ordinances, court staff, judge and prosecutor. Many have their own police department tasked with upholding the laws of that specific municipality. In 2013, 10 of the 25 municipal courts with the most fines and fees per capita were in St. Louis County (2013). Further, 19 of the 25 courts that issued the most warrants per capita were in North St. Louis County.

Things are changing though. Recently the traffic reform bill went into effect limiting the amount of revenue municipalities can obtain through traffic tickets. The St. Louis area was specifically targeted and received a lower revenue cap than the rest of the state. This law went into effect at the end of August, … Read the rest

Missouri Municipal Reforms go into effect today August 28, 2015

Senate Bill #5 goes into effect today. This bill legislated sweeping reforms to the county and municipal courts in the State of Missouri. Specifically targeted at traffic violations, this law regulates income the courts can receive and penalties they may order for traffic violators.

The law prohibits fines for traffic violations to exceed $300 when combined with court costs. This appears to be per violation and not a max fine from any one individual. Failure to pay the fines will not result in incarceration as previously allowed. Further failure to appear and/or pay will not allow the courts to issue new charges for failure to appear.

Judge Thornhill of the Springfield Municipal Court was quoted as stating, “So therefore, in that situation when people owe money but don’t come in and pay, or don’t come in and tell us why our hands are tied.”

Counties and municipalities are permitted to … Read the rest

New Missouri law gets tougher with persons on DWI probation

The State of Missouri has passed a new law that makes it more difficult for Driving While Intoxicated defendants still on probation.

The new law, recently signed by Gov. Jay Nixon, makes it more difficult for people already convicted of a DWI to get their full driving privileges back. People convicted as a first time offender are allowed their license back but must use an ignition interlock device for six months on their vehicle. The device requires a driver to blow through a tube into a machine that measures blood alcohol content.

When a person’s blood alcohol content exceeds .08 or tampers with the interlock device during their six-month period, they must keep using the device for an additional six months, according to current law.

The state`s new law mandates another three months of restricted driving if someone blows over the legal limit of .08 in their last three months … Read the rest

MO Gov. signs bill reforming municipal courts, policing, tickets

Missouri’s Gov. Jay Nixon this week signed a municipal court reform bill that serves to limit court revenue from traffic related tickets. The bill is a response to the troubles related to Ferguson where a large section of North County’s poor population were being subjected to what many have called predatory practices.

The bill goes into effect Aug. 28, but municipalities have three to six years to comply with some provisions. The bill is designed to restore trust between communities and their local governments and police agencies. Municipal courts in St. Louis County generated more than $52 million in 2014.

The legislation prohibits failure to appear charges for missing a court date, reduces certain fines, and bans jail as a sentence for most minor traffic offenses. Part of the bill limits how much of a cities’ general operating revenue can be collected from court fines and fees.

Cities will soon … Read the rest

Nixon signs traffic court reforms into law

July 9, 2015, Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon, sign into law a new bill to reform the municipal court system across the state. The law, set to go into effect on August 28, 2015, is attempting to end “predatory” practices aimed at the poor. According to reports, the municipal courts in St. Louis County alone generated more than $52 million last year.

Most municipalities with have three to six years to comply with the provisions in the new law. These provisions include limits on fines, banning of failure to appear charges for missing a court date and jail as a sentence for minor traffic offenses. Further cities will be limited in how much of their operating budget can be obtained through court fines and fees.  This will be enforced by requiring the municipalities to provide annual financial reports to the state auditor. Failure to provide these reports or comply with other … Read the rest

Lawsuit tackles bond and jailing policies in City of St. Ann

A local legal defense organization has sued the City of St. Ann for jailing poor defendants because they cannot pay their bond.

The lawsuit, brought by ArchCity Defenders and Washington-based Equal Justice Under Law, was filed this week in federal court and seeks class action status.

If defendants cannot pay bond amounts ranging between $150 to $350, they have to spend several days in jail, the suit alleges. It further states that St. Ann does not release people on their own recognizance or with an unsecured bond – an allegation the city has denied.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kellen Powell. Powell was arrested in St. Ann after being pulled over for allegedly failing to display a license plate and driving with a suspended license. The suit states that Powell was told to pay $300 to be released or he would have to stay a week in jail. … Read the rest

Consolidate St. Louis municipals, says new study

A new study of St. Louis municipals calls for a consolidation of 18 cities in the North County region. The study, commissioned by a local nonprofit Better Together, proposes that these select cities should centralize their police enforcement, training, communications, data collection, and oversight. At the same time, the report acknowledges that political opposition to consolidation is likely to harm progress and cooperation already underway among many of the cities. The report comes at time when the state legislature is debating a cap of 15 percent on the amount of a municipals’ revenue that can be generated from traffic ticket violations.

Consolidating police services in north St. Louis County will save money but politically would be difficult, a new research report says.

A Washington-based consulting group, Police Executive Research Forum, issued its findings Monday, according to a news report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The report recommends centralized training, communications, … Read the rest

Special Group Appointed to Review Missouri Municipal Court Practices

Headed by former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justices, Edward D. Robertson, Jr and Ann K. Covington and Appellate Judge Booker t. Shaw, an eleven member group has been created by the Missouri Supreme Court to study municipal court practices and recommend improvements. Per an order from Chief Justice Mary R. Russell, the group will have a few public hearings.

After the Department of Justice report on municipal court practices, the Court felt it necessary to appoint this group to look into, among other things, the revenue raising for municipalities from the court system. This comes right on the heels of a recent General Assembly bill aimed at reducing the percentage of a city’s operating budget that comes from traffic fines.

We should expect a preliminary report by September 1, 2015 and the final by December 1, 2015. Read the rest

Missouri Senate passes municipal court reform bill

The Missouri Senate came to a compromise this week on the amount they will allow municipals to generate from traffic ticket fines. However, a constitutional challenge is already being talked because the bill treats St. Louis County different from the rest of the state. The bill also eliminates failure to appear court fees, establishes payment plans, and limits the amount of time a person can be held after arrest with and without a warrant.

Compromise made in Municipal Court Bill
Revenue cap from tickets set at 12.5 percent for St. Louis County

The Missouri Legislature compromised this Wednesday on a bill that sets limits on how much revenue municipals can generate from traffic tickets.

The new deal worked out drops the original proposed cap to 12.5 percent, down from 15 percent, for cities in St. Louis County. The cap, originally set at 30 percent of general operating revenue statewide, calls … Read the rest

Missouri Supreme Court to decide on camera tickets

On Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court heard arguments on three separate cases regarding speeding and red light cameras. The cases involved red light camera tickets out of St. Louis City and St. Peters and speeding camera tickets out of Moline Acres. These three cases hit slightly different issues regarding the legality of camera tickets. The ordinances from these jurisdictions were overturned by lower courts that deemed them in violation of state law.

St. Louis City takes a picture of the license plate and issues the ticket to the owner of the vehicle. Proponents indicate that the over 50 intersection cameras free up the police and make the community safer. Police Chief Sam Dotson reasons that the cameras mean more officers are out patrolling neighborhoods instead of enforcing traffic laws. The opponents argue that the owner is only operating the vehicle 70-80% of the time. The onus is put on the Read the rest

St. Louis Area Courts Participating in Amnesty

Read the rest

Missouri Appellate Courts upholds operating a vehicle even when asleep

A recent Missouri Appellate decision out of the Southern District of Missouri has clarified what it means to be operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. It affirmed that you can be “operating” a vehicle even if you are asleep or unconscious.

Defendant was found guilty of Felony DWI and received a four-year suspended sentence. He appealed his conviction asserting that there was not enough evidence to show that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time he was operating the motor vehicle.

The facts of the case as presented to the court are that the officer responded to an early morning report that there was a driver asleep behind the wheel at an intersection. When the officer arrived the engine was still running and the car was in drive. The officer observed defendant as follows; “eyes were closed, his head was resting on his chest, and he was Read the rest

Representative Clay calling for federal review of St. Louis Courts

After the recent shooting of unarmed Mike Brown in Ferguson, many St. Louis area jurisdictions have come under scrutiny. Protestors are claiming that these courts, especially in North County overtax the residents with excessive court fees and fines. Better Together which is an organization advocating the consolidation of St. Louis City and St. Louis County, issued a report indicating that 34% of all the municipal fines and fees in the entire state of Missouri come out of the approximately ninety St. Louis Area municipal courts.

State law caps revenue from traffic cases at 30% of a city’s general revenue. Ten St. Louis Courts are currently being audited by Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich to determine if these municipalities have been abusing their authority in order to obtain more income from tickets.

Using the report from Better Together, Missouri Democrat Representative William Lacy Clay is calling for the U.S. Department of Justice Read the rest

Probable cause can be a factual issue to be determined by the trial court

In State of Missouri vs. Kathryn Avent, the Western District of Missouri Court of Appeals upheld Defendant’s Motion to Suppress evidence due to lack of probable cause.

In this case arising out of Johnson County, the trial court found that the police officer lacked probable cause to arrest Defendant on the charges of DWI. Any information obtained after the arrest, including the breathalyzer, was deemed to be inadmissible.

Defendant through the trial contested the evidence provided by the officer through cross examination. “Avent cross-examined Corporal Owens, challenging his testimony by inferring bias and partiality, pointing out Corporal Owens selective omission of observations favorable to Avent, and by questioning the evidentiary weight of his observations and the reasonableness of inferences drawn therefrom. Avent obtained admissions by Corporal Owens that his various observations were indicative of the fact alcohol had been consumed but were not indicative of the amount consumed. Avent … Read the rest

How to avoid a ticket and what to do if you get pulled over

Below are tips from the National Motorist Association on how to avoid a ticket an/or what to do if you are pulled over.

1.  Don’t draw attention to yourself on the road. 

  • don’t hang out in the left lane
  • keep pace with traffic
  • stay within 5 to 10 mph of the posted limit, particularly after dark
  • don’t exceed a safe driving speed in bad weather conditions (even if you are under the posted limit, you can get a moving violation for driving faster than conditions allow)

2.  Be prepared and know your surroundings. 

  • keep your driver’s license, vehicle registration, insurance, and state inspection verification (if required) up to date
  • be aware of the traffic around you; a slowdown may indicate a speed trap or accident ahead
  • be vigilant driving through small towns, particularly those near an interstate or where a major state highway goes directly through town
  • be alert for
Read the rest

Probable cause to arrest on a DWI is a legal issue when the facts are not contested

In Lord vs. The Director of Revenue the trial court in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County found that the officer lacked probable cause to arrest Lord and reinstated her license. This appeal followed. The Appellate Court found that Lord did not dispute the evidence presented by the Director of Revenue, nor did she point out consistencies or question the officer’s credibility.

This made the issue not a factual issue which requires deference to the trial court, but a legal issue which can be determined by the Appellate Court. “The level of proof required to show probable cause is much less than that required to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Velluto, 383 S.W.3d at 18. There is no precise test for determining whether probable cause exists. Hinnah v. Dir. of Revenue, 77 S.W.3d 616, 621 (Mo. banc 2002). Instead, “[p]robable cause to arrest exists when the arresting officer’s … Read the rest

Watch for deer even in the spring

Most people watch for deer in the fall during mating season, but the spring is a big time for deer as well.

Excerpted from the National Motorist Association Newsletter #254.

 

  1. Most deer collisions occur between sundown and midnight, and just before and after dawn, so pay extra attention during these periods.
  2. Use your high beams as much as possible and scan the roadside for any sudden movements.
  3. On a multi-lane road, if you won’t impede traffic, consider moving to the left lane (this is one of the few times you’ll hear us recommend this). This creates a “buffer zone” on each side giving you more time to react should a deer pop out.
  4. Don’t rely on deer whistles. They don’t work.
  5. Deer travel in herds. When one crosses the road, others are likely right behind.
  6. If a collision is inevitable, stomp on the brakes but try to stay
Read the rest

Miranda rights are not applicable in civil refusal cases

An Appeal in the Southern District of Missouri arising out of Crawford County deals with the invocation of Miranda rights as it applies to the civil case by the Department of Revenue suspending driving privileges.

In Anyan vs. DOR, SD 32681, the record indicates that the Driver invoked his Miranda rights upon contact with the Officer. The trial court deemed any information obtained after the invocation of the Miranda rights to be inadmissible including Anyan’s refusal to submit to a chemical test. The trial court reinstated Anyan’s driving privileges on this basis.

The Director of Revenue appealed. Under Missouri’s Implied Consent law, drivers are deemed to give consent to a chemical test. A refusal of this test can result in the suspension of driving privileges for one year. A driver has the right to have the revocation reviewed in the Circuit Court of the county of arrest. This case is Read the rest

Drug recognition expert not required for probable cause to arrest

The recent decision in Hill vs Department of Revune WD 76689, delves into the issue of probable cause to believe a driver is intoxicated or in a drugged condition.

The driver, Hill, was observed by the officer driving erratically. Officer Hotmer stopped Hill. The Officer testified that he noted several indicia of intoxication, but not the smell of alcohol. The Officer requested that Hill submit to a blood test. Further, the Officer requested the assistance of drug recognition expert. Hill admitted to taking Zoloft prior to driving. Hill refused the blood test.

The Department of Revenue suspended his license for one year due to the refusal. Hill brought the matter before the trial court, which affirmed his suspension. Hill then filed this appeal. The basis for his argument is that there was not enough probable cause to believe he was operating a motor vehicle in a drugged or intoxicated state.Read the rest

Even with nothing to hide, driver’s shouldn’t be subjected to invasive searches

NMA E-Newsletter #255: Dangerous Business

By John Bowman, NMA Communications Director

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings (Part 1: The Fellowship of the Ring)

I love this quote, and I think it has as much meaning in our world today as it did back in Middle Earth. As I read the news these days, I’m constantly reminded of how dangerous it is to leave your house, hop into your car and drive to your destination. Dangerous not only to your health, your civil rights and your pocket book, but to your basic human dignity as well.

The first story that got me thinking about all of this involves New Mexico driver David Eckert, who was stopped by Read the rest

Supreme Court declines to hear red light camera appeals

The Supreme Court of Missouri has declined to review the red-light camera appeals from Kansas City, Creve Coeur and Florissant. These requests had been filed by the cities and American Traffic Solutions, Inc the provider of the cameras.

The Appellate Courts had issued concerns that the ordinances conflicted with state law requiring the issuance of points for moving violations. The cases will be remanded back where the cities can attempt to provide justification for the ordinances.

The Supreme Court has not addressed the recent Ellisville, Arnold or City of St. Louis rulings regarding traffic cameras. Read the rest

Bill pending in the house to ban camera tickets

Camera tickets have been taking a big hit in Missouri lately. The Court of Appeals has stricken red light cameras in Ellisville and Speed Camera tickets in Moline Acres.

Missouri lawmakers have introduced a bill to the House of Representatives to ban these automated systems across the state. Sponsored by Republican Bryan Spencer from District 63 and Republican Ron Hicks from District 107, HB 1533 aims to prohibit the use of automatic traffic enforcement beginning August 28, 2014. Any political entity that had a contract would have one year to terminate the contract.

The bill was introduced on January 21, 2014. The public hearing was just held last week.

We will update the progress on HB 1533.… Read the rest

Man held in contempt for drinking experiment during DWI deliberations

A 70 year old business man’s self-published book has gotten him in hot water with the Florida Court system. The man was a juror on a criminal DWI case in which the defendant allegedly crashed into a 23 year old man sending the victim’s car into a canal where the victim ultimately drowned.

The juror indicated that he proposed a drinking experiment during deliberations to see how drunk he would be had he consumed as much alcohol as the victim. The jury ultimately convicted the defendant, but that conviction has been overturned for juror misconduct. The juror was sentenced to 6 months in jail. He also failed to disclose a pending DWI against his ex-wife during voir dire.

To add to the strangeness of this case, the defendant adopted his 42 year old girlfriend to avoid civil liability. This adoption, which his ex-wife claims no knowledge of, gave the girlfriend … Read the rest

Filing an insurance claim can up your rates

A recent study by insurancequotes.com shows that your auto policy rates can go up when you make a claim. In Missouri the rate increase is about 27.5% with Illinois increasing at 29.4%. These are on the low end of the scale. In Massachusetts the rate increase averages 67.4%.

This is usually for at fault accidents resulting in property damage and/or bodily injury. According to the article, it makes it more risky for the insurance company to cover you after an at fault claim. These increases usually last approximately three years.

If the damage is close to your deductible it would make more sense to not make a claim admitting fault.

http://www.insurancequotes.com/Media/Default/Blog-Images/auto-insurance-claim-rate-increase-table.png… Read the rest

Santa Fe says strict consequences for DWI are resulting in fewer

Experts in Santa Fe, New Mexico are pointing the strict consequences for a Driving While Intoxicated charge for the drop in alcohol related accidents between 2012 and 2013. Records indicate that the number of alcohol related crashes in Santa Fe was 106 in 2013 from 128 in 2012.

New Mexico is the national leader for Ignition Interlock Devices installed per 10,000 residents. State law requires an IID for all DWI offenders. The City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County also permit vehicle forfeiture if you are arrested for a DWI and already have a conviction on your record. Not only that, since 2009 the police can seize your vehicle if you are caught Driving While Revoked as well. Last year 554 vehicles were seized under these provisions.

Lawmakers correlate the re-arrest rate of first time offenders dropping 55% since 2002 and the reduction of alcohol involved crashes by 40% … Read the rest

Reasonable grounds must exist prior to the arrest for DWI

Warren vs. DOR SD32501, 12-11-13

Southern District Court of Appeals from Camden County

In this case the Department of Revenue (hereinafter “DOR”) appealed the Circuit Court’s judgment to reinstate Warren’s driving privileges, contending that that trial court misapplied the legal standard for reasonable grounds.

The arresting officer responded to the scene of a one-vehicle accident where no one was present at the scene. He determined the vehicle belonged to Warren. During his investigation he was called to assist an individual (Warren) who was requesting medical assistance five miles from the scene of the accident.  In the Findings of Fact, the trial court determined that the time of the accident was unknown and that while Warren had admitted to drinking, the time and amount of alcohol was also unknown. The trial court determined that the Officer did not have reasonable cause to arrest Warren on a charge of Driving While Intoxicated Read the rest

Initial refusal of a chemical test can be negated by voluntarily withdrawal

Rothwell vs. Director of Revenue, WD76060

Western District (Platte County) 12-10-13

In this case Rothwell was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated. Pursuant to the facts, he initially consented to a breath test and then withdrew his consent to speak to an attorney. He then was combative with a nurse who attempted a warrantless blood draw. Finally he consented to a blood draw at the hospital. The Director of Revenue (DOR) suspended his license for a year due to the initial refusal. The trial court determined that he eventually consented and that negated his initial refusal.

In this appeal, the DOR argues that the trial court erred in allowing the voluntary consent to negate his prior refusal. The DOR argues that the case precedents in this matter misapplied the law as well.

Case law holds that a driver’s license cannot be administratively revoked if a driver voluntarily submits to a chemical Read the rest

Driving without headlights at night is probable cause for a stop

The Missouri Court of Appeals recently handed down a decision in State of Missouri vs Jackson SD32201. In this case, the driver filed a Motion to Suppress the officer’s observations for lack of probable cause.  The officer observed Jackson stop abruptly then drive around the block without headlights. When the officer stopped defendant, he was already out of the vehicle and heading to the house he originally stopped at. The defendant argued that this indicated he was not engaged in suspicious activity and therefore the officer had no reason to detain him.

The Court reasoned that an officer has probable cause to pull someone over for a violation of State Law (the headlight statutes are below). In this case, defendant was violating State Law by driving without headlights more than a half hour after sunset. The Court further reasoned that once an officer has contact with an individual and observes Read the rest

Manchester, Missouri bans texting for drivers of all ages.

The City of Manchester in West St. Louis County has joined Florissant in North County banning texting for drivers of all ages. Under Missouri state law, it is only illegal to text and drive if you are under the age of 21.

Manchester’s new ordinance outlaws using a hand-held device to send, read or write a text while driving. Fines may be up to $1000. The ordinance also permits up to 90 days in jail.… Read the rest

Another blow to Missouri red light camera tickets

On Tuesday December 17, 2013, the Missouri Court of Appeals in the Eastern District struck down the City of Arnold’s red light camera ordinance as being unconstitutional and contrary to state law.

Arnold was the first Missouri city to pass an ordinance for red light cameras and had them installed by American Traffic Solutions in 2006. The ordinance presumes the car’s owner is behind the wheel and the fines run about $94.50 with no points on the owner’s driver’s license. American Traffic Solutions receives approximately one-third of the fines collected.… Read the rest

St. Louis City to become a “No refusal zone” for DWIs

St. Louis City will be holding a press conference on Monday December 30, 2013 to announce that it is becoming a “No Refusal Zone.”

This means if you are pulled over for a DWI and refuse the breath test, you will likely be required to take a blood test. Due to  recent US Supreme Court decision, this will require a warrant each and every time a suspect refuses a breath test in order to obtain a blood test. These warrants are required to comply with 4th amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.… Read the rest

Country singer Chris Cagle arrested for a DWI in Texas

Chris Cagle was arrested for a DWI over the weekend of December 13-15 near Greenville, Texas after running a red light. He was released on a $3000 bond. The penalty in Texas for a Class B misdemeanor DWI can be up to six months in jail and up to a $2000 fine.… Read the rest

Texas teen given 10 years probation after DUI crash kills 4

A Juvenile Judge in Texas recently issued sentencing on a 16 year old Texas boy that killed four people and seriously injured two others in a automobile accident involving alcohol. On June 15, the teenager was driving a Ford F-350 with 7 passengers. He stuck and killed four pedestrians, three of which had stopped in aid of the fourth stranded motorist. Two passengers from the bed of the truck were ejected from the vehicle and severely injured. One has a brain injury and cannot move or talk. The other suffered internal injuries and broken bones. The evidence indicated that the teens had stolen beer from Wal-Mart earlier in then evening. The driver’s BAC was .24 and he had taken valium.

The defense attorneys presented a defense of “Affluenza.” A defense expert testified that the teen was a victim of his wealthy parents as those parents never set limits, taught him … Read the rest

Safe driving tips for winter

  • Give yourself plenty of time. A lot of problems happen because people are rushed.
  • Clean your car off completely. This includes the snow on top of your car that can fly off and impair the vision of another driver.
  • Check the weather and traffic reports before you leave. Avoid areas of high congestion.
  • Go slower on bridges. They ice over earlier than the rest of the roads and can be quite dangerous.
  • Slow down. Don’t go so slow you are impeding traffic, but don’t push yourself to go faster than you feel comfortable. This goes for four wheel drive vehicles as well – they can still slide on icy patches.
  • Watch for black ice at night and in the early morning.
  • Refill you windshield wiper fluid and make sure you have extra. Poor field of vision can cause accidents.
  • Check your tires. If they are old or worn, you probably
Read the rest

Kentucky Woman fights obstructed view ticket

A Kentucky woman made several trips from her home to New Jersey to fight a traffic ticket. Lynda Farley of Edmonton, KY felt the obstructed view ticket she received in Warren County New Jersey was incorrect. Ms. Farley’s vehicle was decorated with political stickers and flowers around her windshield. The officer indicated that the decorations impeded her ability to see the road. Superior Court Judge, Ann Bartlett, dismissed the case as the New Jersey statute only requires drivers to see through their front and side windows. The fine would have been $56.00.

 … Read the rest

Pulledover.com’s tips for the Holiday Season

 

  • Find your insurance cards. Make sure they are up to date and you can easily reach them from the driver’s seat.
  • Check your license and plates to make sure they are valid. In Missouri, your license is valid for 10 years so it can be easy to forget to renew it.
  • If you get into an accident, exchange insurance information with the other driver and call the police. Getting a police report after the fact is never easy.
  • Do not drink and drive. No one wants to spend the holidays in jail.
  • If you have a warrant, take care of it before you are arrested. Many times warrants can be recalled, but once a jurisdiction has you, they will rarely let you go until you post a bond.
  • If you are pulled over, be nice and respectable. Police officers don’t want to be out in the cold any more
Read the rest

Weekly Traffic and DWI News Update 9/30-10/5

  • 10/1/13 – There was a DWI checkpoint on September 28, 2013 from 3:00 pm to 10:00pm on HWY 94 approximately .5 miles south of Rte D.
    A total of 965 vehicles were stopped during this seven-hour operation. Members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol made the following enforcement contacts:
    12 — DWI arrests   1 — seat belt summons   2 — non-moving summonses   3 — driving while suspended summonses   2 — drug arrests   1– warrant arrest   40 — warnings
  • 10/2/13 – The DWI checkpoint in Ray County on 9/28-9/29 from 11pm to 3am yielded the following arrests: A total of 214 cars were checked during this four-hour operation and members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol issued 21 warnings and made the following arrests: 4 — DWI arrests  2 — child restraint summonses  2 — non-moving summonses  2 — misdemeanor drug arrests
  • 10/3/13 – A number of driver’s license testing stations
Read the rest

Weekly traffic and DWI news update for September 22-28

Welcome to Fall. Here’s what has been happening this week:

  • 9/23/13 – Taney and Stone County reported 10 DWIs as a result of the checkpoints they had from September 12-14.
  • 9/24/13 – A truck driver faces DWI charges after rolling his semi in St. Joseph, Missouri.
  • 9/27/13 – American Traffic Solutions of Arizona is suingB&W sensors based out of Sunset Hills to halt B&W use of speed cameras alleging patent infringement.If the injunction is granted, it could effect the St. Louis Area Municipalities that currently used B&W’s speed cameras.
Read the rest

Weekly Traffic and DWI news for the State of Missouri

  • 9/17/13 – Troop A will conduct a DWI saturation sometime this month. This will include all counties in Troop A, including Bates, Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Henry, Jackson, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis, Platte, Ray and Saline.
  • 9/18/13 – The FBI data shows that women now account for 25% of all DWI/DUI, whereas that number was about 10% in the 1980s.
Read the rest

Caselaw Update – Officers are required to give you time to contact an attorney

A recent Missouri Court of Appeals decision held that even though an officer is required to give you 20 minutes to contact an attorney if you request one, the officer has no obligation to provide you with your attorney’s information.

In Cortner vs. DOR, ED99145, the Director of Revenue (DOR) appealed the judgment from St. Louis County setting aside the revocation of Cortner’s driving privileges.  The parties agree that the facts are not in dispute. Cortner was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Cortner agreed to take a breathalyzer and was transported to the St. Louis County Justice Center. No qualified officer was available there so Cortner was then transported to the Brentwood Police Station.

Once at the Brentwood Police Station, Cortner requested to speak with his lawyer. He was provided with a telephone and a phone book. Cortner informed the officers that his attorney was not listed and he needed … Read the rest

Traffic and DWI news for September 8 – September 14, 2013

  • 9/11/13 – The O’Fallon Police Department issued a press release Friday, Sept. 6 with the results of its recent DWI checkpoints that were held on Sat., Aug. 24.
    • 5 DWI arrests
    • 4 driving while suspended arrests
    • 2 fugitive arrests
    • 6 misdemeanor drug possession arrests
    • 1 felony drug possession arrest
  • 9/12/13 – Due to a Supreme Court decision on a Missouri case, Minnesota police are now requiring search warrants to take blood samples in DWI cases. This is because the ruling deemed Minnesota’s implied consent advisory as unconstitutional.
  • 9/13/13 -Following are enforcement contacts from the checkpoint, held Sept. 7 in Greene County:
    • 2 — Driving While Intoxicated Arrests
    • 5 — Failure To Wear Seat Belt Citations
    • 3 — Child Restraint Citations
    • 5 — Driver License Violations
    • 11– Insurance Violations
    • 7 — Non-Moving Traffic Offenses
    • 4 — Traffic Violations
    • 2 — Misdemeanor Warrant Arrests

    Officers also issued 29 warnings for various other

Read the rest

Caselaw Update – Burden on DOR of proof and persuasion in DWI driver’s license case

The Missouri Court of Appeals – Eastern District recently handed down a new opinion regarding the administrative suspension of an individual’s driving privileges after receiving a DWI. Tweedy vs. DOR, ED99188

In this case the arresting officer (Deputy Hoelzer) was called to the scene by another officer (Deputy Burkard). Based on Deputy Burkard’s observations and the failure of the field sobriety tests, Deputy Hoelzer arrested Tweedy on suspicion of DWI. After his arrest, Tweedy consented to a breath test and admitted he was driving. The Director of Revenue (DOR) suspended Tweedy’s license and Tweedy filed a trial de novo.

Throughout the course of the trial, Tweedy objected to Deputy Burkard’s statements contained within Deputy Hoelzer’s report citing double hearsay. The Director agreed to subpoena Deputy Burkard, but he did not appear for trial and the Director did not attempt to enforce the subpoena. Instead, the Director submitted Exhibit B, a … Read the rest

Traffic and DWI news for September 1 – September 7, 2013

  • 9/1/13 – Have you been pulled over and tried to show proof of insurance on your smart phone only to have the officer not accept it? That’s because they were required to see a paper document, but that is no more. According to a new law that went into effect on Wednesday, you can now show proof of insurance on your phone. Yay for finally catching up with technology.
    Fines are going up in Emergency Zones so slow down.
    Oh and some stuff about concealed carry. You’ll have to read that.
  • 9/3/13 – Officers were cracking down before the Ride of the Century even started. 23 riders were arrested and 24 bikes were towed Thursday night. Reports indicate that drivers were on the sidewalk, performing stunts and committing other traffic violations.
Read the rest

Traffic and DWI news for the State of Missouri September 1-7, 2013

  • 9/5/13 – Troop B announces that there will be a DWI enforcement operation in Lewis County sometime during the month of September.
Read the rest

Celebrity DWI news for September 2013

  • 9/4/13 – Miguel the singer of Adorn is due back in court this month for his DWI arrest on August 15th. Reports indicate that he blew a .10 and .11.
  • 9/6/13 – Lamar Odom seems to have been having some difficulty lately. Not only was he recently pulled over for a DWI, but according to reports he was in a 3 car accident just two weeks ago.
  • 9/16/13 – Dina Lohan, Lindsay Lohan’s mom seems to be following in her daughter’s footsteps. She was picked up for a DWI in New York State after blowing a .20.
  • 9/25/13 – San Franciso 49er Linebacker Aldon Smith was arrested for a second DWI. His previous DWI from Miami was reduced to reckless driving.
Read the rest

Traffic and DWI news for 8/25-8/31

  • 8/27/13 – MSHP released the results of the DWI checkpoint in Newton County and the DWI saturations in Barry and Stone County for August 22 – August 24. They stopped 617 vehicles which resulted in the following tickets:DWI Arrests — 18  Speed Violations — 14  Seat Belt Violations — 62  Child Restraint Offenses — 8  Hazardous Moving Violations — 11  Non-Moving Traffic Offenses — 28  Driver’s License Violations — 16  Uninsured Motorists Violations — 9  Misdemeanor Warrant Arrests — 8  Felony Warrant Arrest– 1  Drug Arrests — 5  Minor In Possession Violation — 1  Other Misdemeanor Violations — 11  Warnings — 350
  • 8/28/13 – The sobriety checkpoint from Table Rock Lake on August 24 saw 136 watercraft stopped. These tickets were issued:Boating While Intoxicated — 3  Misdemeanor Drug Arrests — 2  Boating Citations — 9  Warnings — 26  Marine Safety Inspections — 3
  • 8/28/13 – On August 16, 2013, Franklin
Read the rest

Traffic and DWI news – August 19 – August 23

  • 8/19/13 – Last week a Sunset Hills speed camera company conducted a study on I-70 to gather data about the feasibility of a speed camera for this stretch of the highway. The camera was posted at Jennings Station Road in the jurisdiction of Pine Lawn. This was just a test to gather data and no tickets were issued, but it appears to be laying the groundwork for speed cameras on I-70 through the travel safe zone.
  • 8/20/13 – An Arnold man was arrested for a DWI yesterday in Miner, MO. His vehicle was found parked in a parking lot, but running. Police also found a large amount of narcotics in his vehicle.
  • 8/20/13 – KSDK runs an article about contesting tickets in St. Ann.
Read the rest

Weekly Traffic and DWI news – August

  1. Man was arrested for a DWI when he missed a driveway and drove into an embankment.
  2. St. Louis County Police and the Missouri Highway Patrol will be conducting random sobriety checkpoints throughout August. The agencies indicate that the checkpoints will be in various  locations known for having increased occurrences of alcohol-related drivers. That would be popular short cuts and easy ways to avoid main streets.
  3. Highway Patrol will also be conducting DWI saturations in St. Charles, Lincoln and Jefferson Counties during the month of August. According to reports MSHP chose these counties due to a high number of drinking related accidents.
  4. Many St. Louis residents partake in the amnesty program receiving vouchers to avoid or recall warrants for unpaid tickets.
  5. Missouri’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign starts today, August 16, and goes through September 2. The statewide campaign involves DWI saturation patrols and DWI checkpoints.
Read the rest

Funny Arrest Videos

We’ll never post our clients’ arrest videos and we don’t condone drinking and driving. However,  these are videos that have been released to the press and we just had to share.

Read the rest

Burden of persuasion is on the driver not the Director of Revenue

The Missouri Court of Appeals in the Western Division filed an opinion last week regarding the burden of proof and the burden of persuasion in a driver’s license case (Radmacher vs. DOR, WD75763).

In this case Radmacher was charged with a Class C felony of second-degree assault for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated resulting in injury after he was involved in a single car accident and one of his passengers was ejected and injured. He pled guilty to the charge and received a suspended imposition of sentence. The Department of Revenue then disqualified his privilege to operate a commercial driver’s license due to his conviction for using a motor vehicle in commission of a felony. Pursuant to the statute, if a driver pleads guilty to a charge it counts as a conviction with regard to the privilege to drive a commercial vehicle even if sentencing is suspended.

Radmacher argued … Read the rest

Weekly Traffic and DWI news – August 9, 2013

  • Robert Asbridge, 19 of Belgrade, Missouri was arrested for DWI and 2nd degree assault in Washington County after a single car accident on the evening of July 31, 2013. He overcorrected his vehicle causing it to overturn.  He and his teenaged passenger were injured in the crash. Neither was wearing a seatbelt at the time.
  • A New Hampshire woman was later arrested after an officer discovered she was lying about her father dying to get out of a speeding ticket.
  • Missouri man was arrested for his 11th DWI. He was charged as a chronic offender.
  • The Missouri Highway Patrol Troop D will be participating in the “Drive Sober Or Get Pulled Over” enforcement campaign from August 16, 2013 to September 2, 2013. There will be DWI saturations and sobriety checkpoints.
  • Saturday morning at 9:15 a man fled a traffic stop and lost control of his vehicle. He was taken to
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Celebrity DWI News – August

  • Kurt Angle, pro wrestler, was arrested August 1, 2013 for a DWI again. This is his 4th alcohol related arrest in the last 6 years.
  • DMX was pulled over early July 26, but insists the press has it wrong. It wasn’t a DWI. His publicists insists that he passed a breathalyzer and quickly released. The rapper was charged with Driving Without a License.
  • Rapper Lil-Twist was arrested July 11 for DWI while driving one of Justin Bieber’s vehicles.
  • Dale Earnhardt’s grandson was arrested for a DWI late Monday night.
  • Nickelodeon star Cody Longo receives 3 years probation and 3 months of alcohol classes after pleading no contest to a DWI.
  • 8/20/2013 – Hulk Hogan’s ex-wife pleads guilty and gets 3 years probation and 3 months of alcohol classes.
  • 8/21/13 – David Cassidy was arrested on a 2nd DWI last night in upstate New York.
Read the rest

Municipal Judges are balking at the new $3 surcharge

On August 28, 2013, Municipal Judges in the 575 Municipal Courts throughout the state of Missouri will be required to collect an additional $3 per violator. This surcharge is expected to raise $1.5 million annually to replenish the pension fund for about 150 retired sheriffs and their spouses.

Judge David Smith for the City of Sullivan has already order his Court Administrator not to collect the charge. Frank Vatterott, a part-time Municipal Judge for the City of Overland, is preparing a legal challenge to the surcharge.  Other Judges are worried about where it will stop. They worry that the state will continued to add on more and more charges making tickets more expensive.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has stated at least twice that all courts need to start collecting this fee, including municipal court.… Read the rest

Weekly News Summary – July 22 – July 26, 2013

  • The St. Louis Metro Area is doing amnesty again for those with outstanding warrants. Those who attend will need to bring $10 to cover all warrant fees. Locations are as follows:
  1. August 3, 2013 – St. Louis Community College Meramec from 7am to 7pm – for Misdemeanors
  2. August 7, 2013 – St. Louis Community College Florissant from 7am to 7pm – for Misdemeanors
  3. August 19, 2013 – St. Louis Community College Forest Park from 7am to 7pm – for Misdemeanors
  4. For Felony warrants for child support the dates are: August 17, August 21, August 31 all at Better Family Life Cultural, Education Center.   Also from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Missouri man is suing the City of Ellisville in a class action lawsuit for a ticket he received due to warning of an upcoming speed trap.
  • Municipal Courts are supposed to be collecting an additional $3 fee for those convicted
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Black boxes for car crashes

Everyone knows about the black box used in airplanes. The boxes are essential in investigating what actually happened after a plane crash. Lesser know is that fact that most new cars have black boxes installed by the manufacturer.

Originally introduced by General Motors in the 1990 model year, black boxes were originally used for quality studies. They are located under the central console and are about the size of 2 decks of cards. Approximately 96% of all new cars have the black boxes today. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) would like for all vehicles to have the black boxes by September 2014.

The black boxes of today can monitor seat belt usage, speed, brake position and numerous other data. This information could be essential in determining what actually happened in a crash. However, this data could then be used against the car owner to find fault in … Read the rest

New ignition interlock requirements for Missouri DWI offenders

The Missouri Lawmakers government passed a law last July heavily revising Missouri Statute 302.060 and now requiring stricter ignition interlock standards for DWI offenders. This law goes into effect in October of 2013.

Under current law those serving 5 0r 10 year revocations due to multiple DWI infractions would have to serve 2-3 years of the revocation before being eligible to seek a limited driving privilege. Also those who have a one year revocation due to two alcohol related contacts within 5 years would not be eligible for a limited driving privilege. Under the new law scheduled to go into effect soon, offenders would be eligible to seek a limited driving privilege after only serving 45 days.

While the timeframe for eligibility for a limited driving privilege has been drastically lowered, other requirements have become harsher. Those with 5 or 10 year denials must have an ignition interlock device that … Read the rest

This Week’s Traffic and DWI News

  • Missouri State Highway patrol must get prior approval before spending over $100,000 on any vehicle. This occurred after lawmakers were not notified about the purchase of a $5.6 million plane.
  • St. Louis Cabdrivers want to charge a fee for people who vomit or otherwise soil their cabs.
  • The DWI checkpoint in Lincoln County over the weekend resulted in a total of 524 vehicles were stopped during the five-hour operation. Members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol made the following enforcement contacts:
    10 — DWI arrests,   1 — uninsured motorist summons,   2 — driver’s license summonses,   6 — non-moving summonses,   3 — warrant arrests,   1 — drug arrest   83 — warnings issued

 … Read the rest

Missouri DMVs will no longer print your license while you wait

If you have been in to renew your license within the last six months, you may have been surprised when the government employees scanned in your personal documents (social security card, passport, birth certificate, etc). That has changed thanks to new legislation recently signed by Governor Jay Nixon.

Department of Revenue officials defended the scanning as an attempt to make Missouri licenses more secure.  The DOR recently switched to using a centralized vendor in Georgia to print Missouri licenses. This is supposed to be a cheaper alternative to having printers in every office. Under the old policy, electronic copies were kept in a state database in Jefferson City.

The DOR indicates they can still continue to issue drivers licenses without scanning documents, but residents must bring in Social Security numbers, provide proof of residence and present proof of citizenship. The applicant will receive a paper license and the permanent license … Read the rest

Blood testing lab in Colorado found to have many problems with training of staff.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) requested a workplace investigation that resulting a report that could be considered mitigating evidence in criminal trials where the CDPHE was involved. This report issued on March 18, 2013 was not released to the Criminal Defense Bar in Colorado by the Colorado Attorney General until June 7, 2013, almost three months after it was issued. The full report can be found here.

The report was initiated after an employee quit and contacted the Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs making several allegations with regard to training, security of samples and unprofessionalism. Additional issues were discovered during the course of the investigation.

The investigator found that the blood alcohol training protocols for toxicology lab analysts were inadequate. This was due to a non-standardized system of training, lack of follow up and not training employees on how to train their peers. The … Read the rest

Man “Fails” Sobriety Test, Blows .000 after DUI Arrest

In Surprise, Arizona an Ohio native who was initially charged with a DUI later blew a .000.

Jessie Thornton a 64 year old man was pulled over after swimming at the gym. He tried to explain to the officer that his blood shot eyes were due to the pool. He also told the officer that he could not perform the field sobriety tests as he had bad knees and was scheduled to have hip replacement surgery in two days.

He failed the field tests and was handcuffed and taken to the station. At the station he blew a .000 and passed all tests done by a drug recognition expert. According the Thornton, the drug recognition expert indicated he showed no signs of impairment and he (the expert) would have never arrested him. The DUI was dropped, but his car was impounded.

He is suing the City of Surprise for half … Read the rest

Appeals Court Upholds St. Louis City Red Light Cameras

On Tuesday this week, the Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals upheld St. Louis City’s red-light cameras.

This ruling was a result of the City of St. Louis appealing the decision made by St. Louis City Circuit Court Judge Mark Neill from February of 2012. Judge Neill ruled that the city lacked the authority to enact such an ordinance which voided the law.

Even though Judge Neill’s ruling was over a year ago, St. Louis City has continued to ticket red-light runners caught on camera. Appellate Judge Kurt S. Odenwald wrote: “As disconcerting as it may seem, the financial windfall enjoyed by municipalities implementing the automated camera system does not diminish the benefits to public safety occasioned by any potential reduction in traffic accidents within their municipal boundaries.”

Mayor Francis Slay’s spokeswoman has indicated that any problems with the notification wording sent to violators was remedied last year.

The appeals … Read the rest

Tips for Dealing with a Police Officer that Pulls You Over.

Police Officers are people too. It is important to remember that when you encounter an officer even for something as simple as a traffic stop. It is imperative that you are nice to the officer. Being nice doesn’t mean not asserting your rights, but the fastest way to a ticket is to belittle and/or berate an officer. Here are some more tips for dealing with a police officer.

  1. Do not get hostile
  2. Do not talk back
  3. Do not raise your voice
  4. Do not use profanity
  5. Pull over immediately
  6. Turn off your car
  7. Place your hands on the steering wheel (Do not reach for your paperwork until the officer asks you to do so.)
  8. At night, turn on your interior light.

An officer may order you to exit the vehicle; you will need to comply with this order.

You can refuse a search. Do so calmly. Stating that you know your … Read the rest

Share the Road with Motorcyclists

The National Motorist Association has provided a set of safety tips for drivers and motorcyclists. As the weather gets warmer, there will be more and more bikers on the road. Also please note that June 17, 2013 is National Ride to Work Day.

The safety list from the NMA is below in its entirity:

  1. “A motorcycle has the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle on the roadway.
  2. Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width. Although it may seem that there is enough room in the traffic lane for a motor vehicle and a motorcycle, the motorcycle needs the room to maneuver safely. Do not share the lane.
  3. Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic. This allows motorcyclists to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
  4. Because of their smaller size, motorcycles may look farther away than they really are. This may also
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NTSB is recommending lowering the legal limit to .05

Last week the National Transit Safety Board (NTSB) recommended lowering the legal limit for drunken driving from .08 to .05. According to NTSB, more than 100 other countries have reduced the limit to .05. They reported that this reduction has lowered traffic deaths attributable to drunken driving by more than half within 10 years.

For the average individual .05 would be no more than one or two drinks.

“Our goal is to get zero related deaths because each alcohol-impaired death is preventable,” stated NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman.

An official with the Governers Highway Safety Association feels that it will be difficult to get states to lower the threshold. Further MADD nd AAA declined to endorse NTSB’s suggestion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also did not endorse the suggestion.

NTSB also made several other recommendations including more frequent used of Ignition Interlock Devices (IID) for those convicted. 17 states require … Read the rest

St. Louis City Marijuana Penalty Reduction Goes Into Effect in June

Mayor Francis Slay signed into law a bill which allows St. Louis City Police Officers the ability to issue marijuana cases to municipal court.

Currently, under state law, a first time offense for under 35 grams is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1000 fine. This new law makes the offense a criminal infraction under the municipal code. The new penalty under the city ordinance would be a fine of $100-$500.

The law will go into effect on June 1, 2013.… Read the rest

Catholic Bishop Arrested For Drunk Driving After Hit and Run

Catholic Bishop Robert J. McManus was arrested in early May for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol in Narraganset, Rhode Island. Police indicate that McManus was involved in an accident with another motorist and drove off. The other driver followed him and called the police. McManus was arrested approximately 2 miles from the accident.

In a statement McManus said, ‘”I made a terrible error in judgment by driving after having consumed alcohol with dinner. There is no excuse for the mistake I made, only a commitment to make amends and accept the consequences of my actions.”

McManus received charges for drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident and resisting arrest.… Read the rest

Illinois Woman Arrested For DUI Was Celebrating Getting License Back

Illinois woman, Erin James, was arrested last week. The officer initially pulled her over for speeding. The officer ended up arresting Ms. James for a DUI. She blew a .155.

Ms. James told officers that she had been out celebrating getting her license back after a 2012 DUI conviction. The reports indicate that purposely drove someone else’s car to avoid the ignition interlock device on her vehicle.… Read the rest

Missouri May Ban Motorcyle Only Checkpoints.

Missouri legislature is currently considering a new bill that would withhold federal funds and grants to municipalities that engage in motorcycle only checkpoints. These checkpoints focus only on individuals on motorcycles and their passengers.

In support of his bill banning officers from stopping all motorcycles. Senator Kurt Schaefer states:
“They say they’re safety checkpoints but then they run full warrant searches and everything else on everyone they stop.”  He indicates that these stops are a form of profiling and should be eliminated.

The House has approved a version of the bill as has the Senate. However, the same measure must pass both houses in order to become law. The Missouri State Highway Patrol and Governer Jay Nixon have remained silent on this bill.  Each version of the bill prohibits checkpoints based on vehicle type. However, they do exempt measures aimed at commercial vehicles.

Motorcycle only checkpoints first appeared in New … Read the rest

US Supreme Court DWI Ruling Could Effect Warrantless Blood Tests

In April the United States Supreme Court handed down a 5-4 decision holding: In drunk-driving investigations, the natural dissipation of alcohol in the bloodstream does not constitute an exigency in every case sufficient to justify conducting a blood test without a warrant.

This case resulted in four separate opinions. The concurring and dissenting opinions focused on the loss of evidence due to the alcohol in the bloodstream being absorbed in the time that it takes a warrant. However, concurring and dissenting opinions provide guidelines and not law.

This holding doesn’t set forth any standards. Every case will be judged by its own facts and a warrant blood draw could be cause for dismissal depending on those facts. The majority opinion written by Judge Sotomayor stressed that getting a warrant should be the default protocol in drunk-driving cases where officers decide to have a blood test made.

What this means for … Read the rest

Woman Faces Third DWI Charge

A 23 year old St. Charles woman was charged as a persistent offender a Class D felony resulting from a DWI arrest in Town & Country on August 26, 2012. According to reports, she was convicted of a DWI in 2009 and 2011. Her BAC was .159.… Read the rest

Municipalities Are Using Fake Speed Cameras

While it isn’t happening in the St. Louis area, it is important to note that some municipalities are experimenting with fake speed cameras. The City of Laurel in Maryland has recently purchased “decoy” boxes that do not contain cameras. The city incorporated the “decoy” boxes in with the existing speed cameras with the hope that the mere presence of the box with encourage drivers to slow down. The police pull the cameras nightly and then instruct the vendor where to place the cameras the following day changing the location of the decoy boxes. Other nearby municipalities are contemplating whether to use this system.… Read the rest

St. Louis City Reduces Penalties for Pot Possession

On June 1, 2013, a new law will go in effect in St. Louis City allowing Police Officers to charge individuals with 35 grams or less of marijuana with a municipal ordinance violation instead of it being a criminal infraction. Under the current laws in effect, a first offense is Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a $1000 fine and 1 year in jail. The new penalty will be a fine of $100-$500 and up to 90 days in jail. Instead of being handcuffed and arrested, violators will likely get a summons to appear in municipal court.

For more information you can read this article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.… Read the rest

Kirkwood Woman Receives Three Years After Killing Cyclist

Kirkwood woman, Emily Hagan, received three years in prison resulting from an accident last year in University City. Hagan rear-ended cyclist, Samuel Scott on Delmar around 11:20 in the evening. Scott later died at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. According to reports, Hagan’s blood alcohol content was 0.262. This sentencing is the result of a plea agreement between Prosecutors and Hagan’s defense attorney. Pursuant to the sentencing, the charge was lowered from a Class B felony to a Class C felony. Hagan will be eligible for parole in one year.

 

 … Read the rest

Rams Cornerback Arrested in Montana on Suspicion of DWI

Rams Cornerback Trumaine Johnson was arrested in Missoula, Montana on a misdemeanor DWI charge. Johnson was pullled  over because his headlights were not one. He refused the breath test. Johnson was drafted by the Rams in 2012. The Rams are currently investigating the matter and have no comment at this time.

 … Read the rest

Drunk Driver Charged With 2nd Degree Assault After Accident

Driver charged and arrested for 2nd Degree Assault resulting from an accident in Bridgeton from November 27. Police investigation shows that the man ran a red light and struck another driver causing multiple injuries including a broken collarbone. The driver has posted a bond and has been released. 2nd Degree Assault is a Class C felony punishable up to 7 years in prison.

Read the full article here.

 … Read the rest

Distracted Driving Laws Differ Between Missouri and Illinois

Missouri has few laws on distracted driving. There is a ban on texting, however this ban only applies to motor vehicle operators that are under the age of 21. This law became effective in 2009. Pursuant to recent report from the Columbia Missourian, very few drivers have been issued tickets for violation of this statute. It is important to note that currently, Missouri has no ban on handheld devices for phone calls. In fact, the statute specifically states that it is not meant to prevent drivers from answering phone calls in the car whether it is on a handheld device or not.

Neighboring state Illinois, has much stricter laws regarding distracted driving with stricter laws recently passing the House on March 1. Currently, all drivers are prohibited from texting/emailing while driving. Drivers under 18 are prohibited from any type of using any type of wireless device and all … Read the rest

Providing alcohol to a minor can result in a felony in MO

In July of 2012, Stephen Labruyere was in custody after police say he provided vodka to a neighbor teen approximately 16 years old that nearly died of alcohol poisoning after being sent by ambulance to the hospital. The boy had a BAC of approximately .349 percent. Original story available here.

He was charged with of Endangering the Welfare of a Child in the 1st Degree in violation of Missouri Statute 568.050. In Missouri, this is a Class C Felony. The punishment for a Class C felony is a maximum of 7 years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000.00, a term of 1 year in the county jail, or any combination of fine and imprisonment.

In February, Mr. Labruyer plead guilty to the charges and received a Suspended Execution of Sentence and probation. Under a Suspended Execution of Sentence, Mr. Labruyer will have a felony on his … Read the rest

Make sure your attorney knows the law.

In Missouri there in no constitutional right under Missouri Implied Consent law to speak with an attorney, but there is a limited right to seek the advice of an attorney. If you request to speak with an attorney, the officer is required to give you 20 minutes within which to contact one. This applies either before or after you are given the Implied Consent Warning. If you are not given 20 minutes without abandoning your search, the breath or blood results are inadmissible.

The Western District recently handed down an opinion regarding this issue in Sless Shaleen Riley vs. Director of Revenue, WD73956. In Riley vs. DOR, Riley requested to speak with an attorney several times but did not reaffirm her request after the Implied Consent Warning was read to her. The officer did not permit her to consult with an attorney and had her blood tested for alcohol.  The … Read the rest