A juror’s lapsed attention not a mistrial

Juror’s whose attention lapsed during a trial is not enough to have a criminal conviction overturned. Also, evidence that two alternate jurors did fall asleep was not enough to declare a mistrial.

The Appellant (Defendant) appealed his convictions to the Court of Appeals, Western District of Missouri. He was convicted of one count of kidnapping in the first degree, two counts of rape in the first degree, and one count of sodomy in the first degree following a jury trial.

Appellant argued two points on appeal, the first of which was that the trial court erred in overruling his motion for a mistrial based on alleged juror misconduct.

Appellant claimed that four jurors should have been discharged for falling asleep during trial.  However, the record showed that two of those jurors did not participate in deliberations; therefore, the appellate court stated that the appellant could not have suffered prejudice.

And … Read the rest

Wrong jurisdiction argument fails in DWI case

A Missouri man loses appeal of his license revocation after arguing that the officer, who was outside his county and jurisdiction when he demanded a chemical test, was not legally an officer per statutory requirement to make an arrest for his refusal.

The man had refused a DWI chemical test after the arresting deputy officer visited him in a hospital outside his county. Appellate argued that his situation was similar to a criminal case that would prohibit an arrest outside of an officer’s jurisdiction. However, the Western District Court of Appeals stated that such fresh pursuit doctrine only applies to a criminal case, not a civil driver’s license revocation case by the Department of Revenue. In the end, the court rejected his appeal, and the revocation of his driver’s license was upheld.

The man also had raised a second question on appeal about whether his account of what happened that Read the rest

Missouri Real ID

Updates on Mo. REAL ID compliant driver’s license

For those of you having to get your driver’s license renewed or a license for the first time, be ready for what may seem to you as a trick question. Do you want a driver’s license or ID card marked as compliant REAL ID or a regular license marked non-compliant?

Those of you who have recently visited your local Department of Motor Vehicle licensing office know what we’re talking about.  But if you don’t have any idea as to what the choice is all about, you may be wondering what to do.

The Missouri Department of Revenue has a great resource on its Website that breaks down the information surrounding the new licenses. But below we summarized the Website’s more salient points on the REAL ID.

So what is the “REAL ID”?

“REAL ID” comes from the REAL ID Act of 2005.  … Read the rest

Enhancing DWI sentences with prior convictions

In this case, Defendant/Appellant was convicted of driving while intoxicated following a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Platte County. The trial court found that Defendant was a habitual offender due to six prior intoxication-related traffic offenses. The Court entered a conviction for the class B felony of driving while intoxicated and sentenced him accordingly. Defendant appealed.

While he argued three points, only one is covered in this post. Specifically,  the trial court erred in finding he was a habitual offender because the State’s evidence was insufficient to prove two of his prior convictions qualify as intoxication-related traffic offenses(“IRTOs”).  He argued a 1996 amendment narrowed the definition of “driving” such that it no longer includes “being in actual physical control” of a vehicle.

He argued that two of his convictions from 1993 may have involved only being in physical control of the vehicle rather than physically driving or operating … Read the rest

Probable cause not needed for traffic stop

In this DWI appeal of an administrative license suspension, probable cause is not necessary for a traffic stop. However, probable cause is needed to arrest a driver for an alcohol-related offense. Furthermore, probable cause to arrest a driver for an alcohol-related offense does not require field sobriety tests. Instead, other indicia of intoxication—like refusal to take a field sobriety test—are sufficient.

In this case, the Director of the Department of Revenue appeals the trial court’s judgment setting aside the suspension of Defendant’s driving privileges pursuant to section 302.505, RSMo. The Director argued the trial court committed legal error by requiring field sobriety tests and evidence of criminal activity before a traffic stop.

In the first point on appeal, the Director challenges the trial court’s conclusion that the Director did not meet its burden to establish probable cause to arrest Defendant because no field sobriety tests were performed. The Director … Read the rest

Source of Breath Analyzer Not Relevant in DWI Case

When it comes to DWI cases, the use of breath analyzer equipment is important but the source of its manufacturer is not.

At least that is what a recent Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District case decided.

The Director of Revenue was appealing the judgment of a trial court in St. Charles County.  The judgment reinstated the driver’s driving privileges after the Director had suspended them after driver’s arrest for DWI.

The Director’s argument was that the trial court improperly excluded evidence of the Driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The court’s decision was based on the Director failing to establish that the Intox EC/IR II breath analyzer used to determine the Driver’s BAC was not manufactured or supplied by a certain company, namely Intoximeters, Inc. of St. Louis.

The appellate court ended up reversing and remanding the decision of the trial court, essentially holding that the source of a breath … Read the rest

Don’t be an idiot driver like this guy

A post on the Alpharetta, Georgia Police Department’s Facebook page said that when law enforcement clocked a speeding vehicle recently, it wasn’t worth even chasing him down the highway. 

That’s right.  The officer did not attempt to stop the driver of a sportbike motorcycle.  Why is that? The driver was clocked at 176 mph.  Instead, the Alpharetta police passed along a description of the motorcyclist to agencies farther south on Ga. 400.

“Hopefully, the driver of the sportbike matures a little before a tragedy happens,” the agency said.

A sportbike is a motorcycle optimized for speed, acceleration, braking, and cornering on paved roads.  Apparently high speed vehicles like sportbikes have been a growing fad recently. With fewer people on the road due to the coronavirus pandemic, motorists have been putting the pedal to the metal.

Statistics are showing a big increase in speeding tickets in Georgia.  In late April, tickets … Read the rest

Shrewsbury Municipal Court

Located in St. Louis County

Shrewsbury Municipal Court
Mike Pauley, Court Administrator
4400 Shrewsbury Ave
St. Louis County, MO 63119
(314) 647-8634 ext 5

Please check the court website for COVID Procedures

Municipal Judge
Hon. A. Gentry Smith

Prosecuting Attorney

John Bouhasin

Court Dates and Docket Dates
Doors open at 5:30 on Court dates, Court begins at 6:30pm. Court is on the 2nd and 3rd Tuesdays.

Did you get a ticket in the municipality of Shrewsbury? What should you do?

If you received a moving violation you have 3 options:

  1. Pay it
  2. Go to court and try to fight it yourself
  3. Hire an attorney.

If you pay it, there will be points assessed to your license. This can cause your insurance rates to go up and/or cause your license to be suspended. Eight points in 18 months can result in a license suspension.

If you try to fight it yourself, the first … Read the rest

Reasonable grounds found to prove intoxication

A recent Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District case shows law enforcement or witnesses do not need to observe a driver weaving between lanes or actually crashing to prove a person intoxicated. Instead, it can be a combination of facts indicating he was drinking and driving, along with failing fielding sobriety tests, and witness statements. All that qualifies as reasonable grounds to charge a driver with driving while intoxicated.

The Appellant/Defendant appealed the trial court’s judgment upholding the Director of Revenue’s (Director) revocation of his driving privileges for refusing to submit to a breath test, claiming the trial court erred because there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of probable cause to believe Appellant drove while intoxicated.

The Appellate court held that Trial Court had substantial evidence before it to support its finding that the law enforcement officer (Officer) had probable cause to believe Appellant was driving while intoxicated. … Read the rest

Restraint or compliance with authority is an arrest

Being physically restrained by an officer and submitting to officer’s authority constitutes an arrest for purposes of determining whether or not a blood alcohol test was legally conducted.

That’s all an appellate court needed to reverse and remand a lower court’s decision to rescind a driver’s suspension in a DWI case involving an accident.


This case began roughly at 2 a.m. on November 12, 2016. Respondent (who is the Driver and Defendant) was driving home on Interstate 44 after meeting friends at a local restaurant. Evidence at trial later showed that she was driving with a blood alcohol content of .175%. Respondent struck another vehicle from behind, causing both drivers to lose control. Respondent’s car hit an abandoned vehicle parked on the shoulder, flipped, landed on its roof, and slid across four lanes of traffic before coming to rest in the middle of the highway. The Officer at the … Read the rest

DWI defense win turns on credibility of officer

This win for the Defendant/Driver boiled down to the credibility of the witness and whether or not he met the legal standard to have stopped the Defendant in the first place.

In this DWI case, an Officer approached a driver based on what is referred to as a community caretaker check (Terry Stop). He claimed in his probable cause statement that he was just checking on the driver to see if he was okay. However, the law states that community caretaker function requires more than speculation, it requires specific and articulable facts, which when asked at trial, the officer said were absent.

Next, at trial, he seems to change his reasoning for approaching and stopping the man, stating that the Driver had parked his car in the entrance to a restaurant in violation of the law. However, there must be specific and articulable facts from the totality of the circumstances … Read the rest

Driver needs to subpoena arresting officer in order to cross examine

Man argues in his DWI license revocation case that his request to speak first with his attorney should not have been considered by an officer to be a refusal to submit to a chemical test.

In this Western District of Missouri case, Defendant/Appellant appealed his judgment of the Circuit Court of Jackson County that had sustained the revocation of his driving privilege.

He raised one point on appeal that alleged there was insufficient evidence to establish that he had refused to submit to a chemical test because he requested to speak to an attorney, and the arresting officer improperly considered that a refusal.


A Kansas City Police Department Officer observed Appellant commit multiple traffic violations, including running a stop sign and striking a curb. Officer activated his lights and siren. Appellant was slow to respond but eventually pulled over and stopped. Officer immediately detected the strong odor of alcohol … Read the rest

Probable cause is a fluid concept

The Eastern District of Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that absence of some signs of intoxication does not negate the presence of other evidence of intoxication, and innocent explanations for a driver’s behavior do not negate the facts that establish probable cause.

This was a case on judicial review of a license suspension by the Director of Revenue (DOR).  The Trial Court reversed the suspension of the Driver’s license stating there was no probable cause to arrest the Driver/Defendant. The appellate court, however, disagreed and stated that the judgment restoring driving privileges was reversed with directions to affirm the suspension.


The Appellate Court reviewed the following facts:  On September 6, 2018, at approximately 8:01 p.m., the law enforcement officer (Trooper), received a complaint of careless and imprudent driving on Interstate 44 near the eastbound 205 mile marker. The report referenced a vehicle that was described as a black Jeep … Read the rest

Approaching police when drunk can get you a DWI

Recent case from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, holds that consensual contact with police can result in arrest and although a portable breath test (PBT) may not get used for proof of blood alcohol content (BAC) it can be used for proof of probable cause.

The Defendant argued the following on appeal: (1) the arresting officer had “no reasonable suspicion to detain” Defendant; (2) the arresting officer had “no reasonable suspicion to extend his nonconsensual detention” of Defendant; (3) there was “no probable cause to arrest” Defendant; (4) the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test “should not have [been] admitted” because “the test was not performed properly”; and (5) the Portable Breath Test (PBT) “should not have [been] considered” because “law enforcement had wrongly assured [Defendant] the PBT would not be used against him[.]”  Finding no merit in any of these points, appellate court affirmed the lower court.

The … Read the rest

Waiting to apply for reinstatement results in denial.

Here is an Eastern District Court of Appeals case where a man’s later felony conviction prevented him from getting his license reinstated.  The later felony conviction had occurred after his five-year DWI suspension had expired. However, Defendant did not apply for reinstatement at the 5 year mark and instead waited until 2019, almost 5 years later.

The trial court granted the man’s petition to reinstate his driver’s license which had been suspended for five years after he was convicted in 2009 for a DWI. 

The Department of Revenue (DOR), which regulates issuance of driver’s licenses, argued that the circuit court erred in reinstating the Defendant’s driving privileges because the man was convicted of possession of a controlled substance within the preceding five years of his petition being filed, and that based on statute it makes him ineligible for reinstatement. Specifically, the DOR cited Section 302.060.1(10). It states that there are … Read the rest

Man gets DWI despite never being pulled over.

The Southern District held that the prosecutor’s mention of consuming 12 bottles of beer was not prejudicial, and that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable juror to conclude the Defendant was guilty of a DWI, even if he was never pulled over in the act of driving.

That’s right. The man was not stopped by police. Testimonial evidence that he had consumed 13 bottles of beer presented at trial and that he got in his car and drove away was enough to show that he was driving while intoxicated. Even if there was no evidence of intoxication from a breathalyzer or from drawing his blood of his blood alcohol content.

Defendant appealed on two grounds. First, was that the Trial Court abused its discretion in deny his motion for judgment of acquittal because the State presented insufficient evidence for a reasonable juror to find him guilty of a charge … Read the rest

New rules change how Missouri traffic tickets processed

Your ability to get your tickets taken care of by going through the Fine Collection Center in Jefferson City has changed and appears to be causing extra work for local counties at the circuit court level.

In the past, when the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) issued tickets for traffic violations, you were allowed to simply plead guilty and send your fine to the fine collection center (a.k.a. FCC) located in Jefferson City.

But if you wanted to fight the ticket the ticket offense would be sent to the circuit court level in the county where the offense occurred.

However, there was a recent en banc ruling by the court that effectively closed down the FCC by redirecting the process of all tickets to the local prosecuting attorney’s office and circuit court.

Some judges around the state have noted that this will likely increase the workload for local officials.

The … Read the rest

Affirmed: Probable cause of intoxicated driver

It can be difficult to overcome probable cause to be pulled over for a DWI, at least that’s what one Lafayette County, Missouri, man learned.

He set out to appeal a circuit court judgment which sustained revocation of his driving privileges. He claimed the arresting officer did not have probable cause to believe he was driving intoxicated when he was pulled over for speeding.

The appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision when there was evidence the man had delayed pulling over without any good cause.  Furthermore, the court pointed out that the Defendant admitted to significant alcohol consumption; had difficulty walking and maintaining balance; had watery and bloodshot eyes; and the arresting officer testified that in his professional opinion he believed Defendant to be impaired.

The facts of the case are that on November 8, 2018, at 10:49 p.m., a law enforcement officer observed the Defendant driving 47 miles … Read the rest

Argument of error of breath testing machine fails

Defendant argued before the Western District Court of Appeals that the breath test results used to suspend his license were not admissible because the breath testing machine was not subjected to proper maintenance and reporting.  In the end, his suspension from Lafayette County is upheld and judgment affirmed. 

The issue centered around 19 C.S.R. 25-30.031(3) which states maintenance checks shall be completed when a new instrument is placed into service or when the instrument has been serviced, repaired, or recalibrated.  And in this case, was it an error to complete a maintenance check when an instrument was serviced and sometime thereafter a separate maintenance check of the instrument was done when the instrument was placed back into service?

To admit blood alcohol test results the following foundation requirements must be met: (1) the test was performed by following the approved techniques and methods of the Department of Health; (2) the … Read the rest

Implied consent law was triggered in DWI case

We have yet another case where a driver who admits to having driven the car he was found parked in and visibly intoxicated is trying to argue that there was insufficient proof that he had used a public roadway; therefore, there was no implied consent to chemical testing.

Why is implied consent important? Refusal to submit to chemical testing is not valid for the purposes of revoking a driver’s license unless the driver has impliedly consented to chemical testing.  Pursuant to section 577.020, consent to submit to chemical testing cannot be implied unless the evidence supports an inference that a driver operated a vehicle on the public highways in Missouri.

The defendant’s argument before the Western District Court of Appeals essentially was that refusal to submit to a chemical test is not valid unless it is established that a driver impliedly consented to submit to chemical testing by “operat[ing] a … Read the rest

MO traffic fatalities down for third year in row

MO traffic fatalities down for third year in row

Description: Missouri related traffic deaths are down five percent for 2019, representing the third year in a row that traffic fatalities have declined.

Good news. Missouri traffic deaths are down five percent for 2019, making it a decline for the third year in row. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that 876 lives were lost in traffic crashes in 2019, down from 921 in 2018.

The MoDOT tempered its good news with the fact that 876 lives is still too much, with their ultimate goal to be zero traffic fatalities.

Statistics, however, did see an increase in motorcycle fatalities and pedestrian fatalities. In 2019, there were 118 motorcyclists killed, a 10 percent increase from the previous year. As for pedestrians, there were 108 pedestrians killed in 2019, making it the largest number of pedestrian fatalities in Missouri in the last 10 … Read the rest

Intoxicated man gets DWI driving ATV on public road

This case goes to show that driving an ATV on a public road makes it a vehicle and if you are intoxicated, it can get you jammed up for a DWI

That was the situation for a driver in the Southern District of Missouri who found himself riding his ATV on a public road. An ATV is not normally considered a “motor vehicle” if being driven in a field or on a farm away from publicly travelled roads. But once the ATV uses a “thoroughfare or a way for travel” used by the public, the ATV becomes a motor vehicle for the sake of DWI laws.

In this case, a teenager (“Victim”) wearing music head phones was walking his dog at night

through a residential subdivision on graveled, unlighted path (The “Road”).  It was at that moment when the Defendant was driving his ATV without operable headlights, struck the Victim … Read the rest

No printout does not rule out Breathalyzer results

A technical glitch in a breathalyzer machine, as long as it didn’t impair the results of the test, is not enough to throw out the blood alcohol content (BAC) result showing intoxication over the limit, according to the appellate court in the Eastern District of Missouri.

In a recent case where a driver’s license was suspended, the court was asked to determine whether the results of a BAC breathalyzer test are admissible.  In that case, the printer connected to the machine lost power before it could print a ticket. The lower circuit court judge determined the results were inadmissible and therefore reinstated the defendant’s driving privileges.

The Director of Revenue appealed the judgment of the circuit court which concluded that the Director failed to make a prima facie case for the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license.

The actual finding of the court was that although the breathalyzer test given … Read the rest

Mo. Gov. wants money for roads, bridges

Looks like Missouri might be getting some new road and bridge improvements.

Gov. Mike Parson wants state lawmakers to fund another year for a program that helped cities and counties with infrastructure improvements for roads and bridges.

The governor pointed out that the program lawmakers passed last year was a legislative success and it should be funded again for this year. The governor was speaking at a meeting of the Missouri Asphalt and Pavement Association.

That deal included $50 million in matching state funds for cities and counties that share the cost of improving their roads and bridges.

More details on the dollar amount are expected in Parson’s State of the State speech.

In December, the governor’s office announced $50 million in matching state funds for some 20 projects.  This would amount to a total of $131 million in upgrades to roads, bridges and intersections.

Last year’s deal saw the … Read the rest

Jury doesn’t believe story witness was driving

A man was found guilty of driving while intoxicated by a Maries County jury.  The jury felt that there was enough evidence to support a DWI conviction.

In this Southern District of Missouri appellate case, the appellate court stated that a jury may believe all, some, or none, of any witness’s testimony. The testimony of the Defendant’s girlfriend was that she was doing the driving while he was sick and laying down in the car.  The man appealed his DWI conviction. Appellant argued that although there was evidence of his intoxication six hours after his car was seen, there was not sufficient evidence that he was driving at the time that he was intoxicated.

However, the following evidence as listed out in the Appellate Court’s opinion tells another story that was more believable for the jury:

*There was a 12-pack of beer in Appellant’s fridge and he “drank before [he] … Read the rest

Proposed Bill to block CaseNet access to misdemeanor crimes

There is a new proposed bill that would limit the public’s access to CaseNet as a move to protect the privacy of Missourians.

For those who don’t know, CaseNet is Missouri’s online database which allows the general public to search most court records, exceptions include juvenile records and paternity cases.

The searches will provide information on docket entries to judgments, charges, court dates, appearances, names of lawyers and prosecutor’s on those cases, the defendant’s name and date of birth, etc. This information is recorded when clerks and lawyers make filing and updates utilizing the Missouri Court Automation Program’s case management software.

The politician behind the movement to close some of the public’s online access to information is Rep. Bruce DeGroot.

DeGroot recently filed legislation to prevent nonviolent misdemeanor and traffic offenses from being publicly available. However, that information would still be accessible by law enforcement agencies, judges, prosecutors, … Read the rest

AG sues Marshfield for issuing too many tickets

The St. Louis community is not the only place that has raised red flags when it comes to issuing too many traffic tickets.  The state attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the City of Marshfield for doing just that.

AG Eric Schmitt announced a lawsuit in early December against the city of Marshfield for enforcing a ticket quota on police officers. The suit also alleges that the town’s police chief attempted to intimidate potential whistleblowers.

The suit says that the police chief began in January 2019 posting monthly citation numbers on a department bulletin board and stopped after the city of Diamond, Missouri was sued for illegally putting ticket quotas on officers.

The suit outlines that if an officer wrote less than 16 tickets in a month, they would have to face the Chief to discuss performance issues.

To support the lawsuit, the AG states that citations from officers … Read the rest

New temporary license plate issued for MO drivers

Starting in early 2020, Missouri temporary license plates will have a new look designed to prevent forged versions costing the state millions.

The new temporary license plate is designed to deter car owners from making fake tags. The new tags will have several updated security features.

There is an anti-copying feature in which the word “VOID” will appear if a person tries to reproduce an existing license. But the main new feature will be a reflective, holographic image that can be seen day and night.  These new tags are expected to cost the same to produce as the current paper ones.

The problem of fake temporary plates is not new for the state.  The Missouri Department of Revenue  estimated that there are 32,000 license plate scofflaws which end up costing the state $26 million in unpaid sales tax revenue.

These fake temporary license plates became a focus for the City … Read the rest

Elements from prior out of state DWI not enough to charge a felony

If you have been charged with DWI, and you had prior DWIs in another state, you need to know that those previous guilty pleas cannot be used against you in some cases to enhance your penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony.

A recent case from Johnson County illustrated this point.

The Appellant Defendant was arrested for driving while intoxicated, and for driving while his license was revoked, following a traffic stop in 2016.

The State argued that Defendant was a “persistent offender” based on his convictions in 2005 and 2006 of two “intoxication-related traffic offenses” in Illinois. And based on his status as a “persistent offender,” the State alleged that the Defendant’s driving while intoxicated offense was enhanced from a class B misdemeanor to a class D felony.

At trial, the State presented evidence of his two Illinois convictions. Then the court found Defendant to be a persistent offender … Read the rest

An old expungement can’t be used to bar a second one

If you had your criminal record expunged, it can’t be used against you at a later date to bar you from getting a new criminal record expunged, according to a recent Western District Court of Appeals decision.

For those who don’t know, an expungement means restoring all rights as if the event had never occurred. Statutes governing expungement of arrest records require that the petitioner has no criminal convictions before or after the relevant arrest.  In this recent case, the Highway Patrol’s Central Repository was trying to block a person who had a prior conviction expunged from getting another expungement on a recent conviction.

The debate centered around the present tense of the verb “has.”  The word “has” instructs the court to look at the facts of the case as of the filing date of the petition for expungement. And if as of the filing date of the petition, if Read the rest

Sheriff Pension Fund court fee is in litigation

The controversy about a $3.00 assessed court fee continues to linger. The approximate $3 million generated from the fee goes to reimburse the Sheriff’s Retirement Fund fee. However, opponents of it say it may be unconstitutional.  Now the issue is being heard in court.

Columnist Tony Messenger of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently wrote an interesting piece on this controversy. This fee has been charged since 2013 by municipal courts, including traffic tickets in Missouri. However, the original statute from 1983 was only applied to the circuit court when it was originally introduced. And the law never changed since then. Yet municipal courts started to charge it.

Messenger says several big political players played some role in getting the fee established, including the following: Gov. Mike Parson; Former state Rep. Caleb Jones; Former Attorney General Chris Koster; and several of the sitting members of the current Missouri Supreme Court.

This … Read the rest

Warrantless blood draw of DWI defendant upheld

The Eastern District of Missouri Court of Appeals upheld a first-degree manslaughter conviction involving a warrantless blood draw while Defendant was unconscious, in addition to allowing his statements into evidence despite possible evidence of a traumatic brain injury.

Defendant and friends had been drinking. Defendant was driving vehicle with his friends when the car slid off the road and overturned.  Officer arrived at scene and saw two in the vehicle. The two were transported to a hospital.  One of the occupants of the car died. Defendant was charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault. He was released to the St. Francois County jail after a lengthy stay in a rehabilitation center.

Law enforcement officer would later meet Defendant at the jail. Defendant gave conflicting reports about whether he was driving. Initially, Defendant told Officer the passenger was driving the van. He also stated, “It wasn’t me. I ain’t going … Read the rest

Trial de novo is not an appeal

Defendant in this Clay County case thought her due process rights had been violated at her administrative hearing with the Department of Revenue. The DOR won and the Defendant had her driving privileges suspended. So she had the case reviewed by the trial court which refused to consider the issues of due process rights. Defendant appealed that decision and the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision.

This all began after the Defendant lost her administrative case to the DOR. The Defendant sought what is called a de novo review at the trial court level. And it was at this level that the trial court said it did not have the authority to hear and determine due process violations that allegedly took place at the administrative hearing.  

So the Defendant appealed and the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District went on to affirm and uphold the trial court’s decision saying … Read the rest

Rolla updates its law to allow medical cannabis

The City of Rolla, Missouri, is on its way to passing an ordinance that will no longer conflict with recent medical marijuana possession.

The city held its first reading of an ordinance that will amend the city code to allow medicinal marijuana. Under current city law, possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana is illegal with no exception for medical marijuana applicants approved by the state for legal possession.

The proposed ordinance was drafted after Rolla Police Chief Sean Fagan notified the city that the marijuana possession law on the books doesn’t allow medical marijuana.

This new ordinance amends Rolla’s cannabis possession law with language making it an exception for individuals who have patient or caregiver medical cannabis cards approved by Missouri’s Department of Health.  The Missouri’s Department of Health has approved more than 10,000 patient and caregiver applications already. The new statewide medical cannabis laws are expected to … Read the rest

Appellate Court rules against DWI defendant on Miranda issue

Defendant appealed his conviction following a bench trial of the class B misdemeanor of driving while intoxicated.  The appellant’s sole point on appeal was that the trial court erred in overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress his statement that he had “a couple” or “a few” drinks.  The defendant/appellant argued that the statement was elicited without a Miranda warning.

The defendant was found by the officer on the scene in his vehicle, which was turned upside down along the road. He was removed by first responders. While in an ambulance and restrained by EMS, the officer asked the Defendant about whether he was drinking prior to the accident, to which the Defendant had replied “a couple” and “a few” drinks. The officer also stated that he smelled alcohol on his breath, the man slurred his speech, and beer cans some used and some full (and still cold) were found outside where … Read the rest

Richmond Heights Municipal Court

Located in St. Louis County

Richmond Heights Municipal Court
Laurie Beeko, Court Clerk
7447 Dale Ave
St. Louis County, MO 63117
(314) 645-1982 ext 3
(314) 655-3546 (facsimile)

Municipal Judge
Hon. Stephen O’Brien

John Lally, Esq.

Court Dates and Docket Dates
Doors open at 5:30 on Court dates, Court begins at 6:00pm. There are 3 court sessions each month.

In 2017, the Municipality of Richmond Heights filed over 948 tickets. Did you get a ticket in the municipality of Richmond Heights? What should you do?

If you received a moving violation you have 3 options:

  1. Pay it
  2. Go to court and try to fight it yourself
  3. Hire an attorney.

If you pay it, there will be points assessed to your license. This can cause your insurance rates to go up and/or cause your license to be suspended. Eight points in 18 months can result in a license suspension.

If you try … Read the rest

The meaning of ‘driving’ plays role in DWI appeal

The Director of Revenue (Director) appealed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Respondent (Defendant), which reinstated Defendant’s license because it found the Director failed to establish there was probable cause to believe the Defendant operated his vehicle while intoxicated.  The Director argued the trial court erroneously applied Missouri law regarding what constitutes “driving.”  

 The appellate court said that the Missouri Supreme Court has held that “the bright-line test to operate a car [is] caus[ing] its motor to function.  Once the key is in the ignition, and the engine is running, an officer may have probable cause to believe that the person sitting behind the steering wheel is operating the vehicle[,] even if that person is sleeping or unconscious.”  Cox v. Director of Revenue, 98 S.W.3d 548, 550 (Mo. banc 2003).

In the case at hand, Defendant was found passed out in a running car, which was unusually … Read the rest

Law tougher on drivers who hit a first responder

A recently signed new law will make it more financially painful for drivers who hit a first responder pulled over on the side of the road.

The law is called Lyndon’s Law. It can mean losing your license for hitting a worker or responder working along the side of the road.  The law was named after MoDot employee Lyndon Ebker, who was hit and killed in Franklin County, Mo in 2016

Before the new law, a driver was charged with endangerment of a highway or emergency worker if they were hit but not injured.  If the worker was injured or killed, they would be charged with aggravated endangerment of a highway or emergency worker. The penalty for the latter charge was 12 points on your license, which would be a suspension, and a significant fine.

Under Lyndon’s Law, the penalty now applied to a responder or worker injured or killed … Read the rest

City of Diamond settles suit over its traffic ticket policy

Changes to how Missouri municipals conduct their traffic ticket policy continues to move forward. Most recently the City of Diamond agreed to stop its practice that critics said was the using of traffic ticket quotas to generate revenue. The decision was part of a settlement announced by the state’s attorney general last recently.

Additionally, the city agreed to mandatory training for top city officials on compliance with Missouri laws against traffic quotas.

The City of Diamond had been sued by Attorney General Eric Schmitt in April 2019.  The allegations were that the City’s Police Chief wrote on a white board that the city was $5,000 behind and instructed officers to issue tickets “RFN.”

Schmitt’s Office alleged in the lawsuit that a whistleblower said RFN is an acronym for a phrase that means immediately, The lawsuit also contended that the police chief sent the town’s mayor and Board of Aldermen regular … Read the rest

Intoxication not a mental condition

A recent appellate decision out of Kansas City ruled to reject a defendant’s argument that intoxication qualified as a mental condition and therefore exclude testimony regarding her intoxicated state. The court ruled intoxication is a physical condition not mental.

The defendant based her appeal upon the argument that the Cole County judge allowed three witnesses to testify about defendant’s intoxication despite a change in state law approved earlier in the year by the legislature.

The defendant was arrested on December 15, 2015 by Jefferson City police.

The police officer observed the defendant stopped at a green light in the fast lane of traffic with her high beams on.  She did not dim them for approaching vehicles when she started to drive.  The officer followed the defendant’s car and saw her turn her headlights off while driving. The car also wove back and forth in its lane. The officer turned on … Read the rest

The word immediate does not invalidate notice

When an officer informs a DWI suspect that he will “immediately” lose his license if he does not submit to a breath test, even though technically he may have several days before his license is revoked, that technicality is not misleading and is not violating the Defendant’s due process rights.

A recent case from the Eastern District of Missouri Court of Appeals overturned a lower court that had held in favor of the DWI Defendant.  The appellate court held that the trial court erred in concluding that the Defendant’s breath test result was obtained in violation of his due process rights because the warning that Defendant’s license would be “immediately” revoked, which is required by Section 577.041.1, did not mislead Mr. Thomas as to the consequences of refusing to submit to a breath test.   The appellate court reversed and remanded the case.

 The Director of Revenue (“Director”) had appealed the … Read the rest

Inmates cannot be held because they can’t pay bail

St. Louis jails cannot hold inmates simply because they can’t pay bail, according to a recent ruling by a federal judge who also granted inmates class action status to sue.

The decision was made by U.S. District Judge Audrey Fleissig’s. The ruling gives officials a week to hold new detention hearings for current inmates in the city’s two jails.  It also says new arrestees must have a hearing within 48 hours of their arrest. However, inmates can still be held if they are a deemed a danger to the community or if there is no other way to ensure they show up for court. 

As to how many inmates this may affect, it could be hundreds who will be granted new hearings or possibly even released. The judge’s decision comes amid a trend to re-examine bail practices in Missouri and the rest of the nation.

Attorneys for the City are … Read the rest

State wins Dept. of Revenue DWI suspension/revocation case

A recent decision by the Missouri Eastern District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Department of Revenue holding that a judge misapplied the law when it made a credibility determination on uncontested evidence after the judge admitted the Department’s records for limited purpose under Section 302.312 RSMo.

The case centered around a state trooper who was never successfully served after several attempts to get him to testify regarding his actions surrounding a DWI stop.

The Court reasoned that because the Trooper was equally available to both parties and never served valid process, the Defendant’s right to due process of law was not violated and the trial court lacked authority to impose a sanction or remedy for non-attendance of a witness without a determination that witness was duly summoned and served a validly executed subpoena to appear before the trial court.  

 The Missouri Department of Revenue had appealed the … Read the rest

Mo legislature passes bill requiring treatment courts

A bill that requires treatment courts in all state circuit courts has made its way to the Missouri Governor’s desk for signing.

House Bill 547, sponsored by state Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City.  The bill allows prosecutors to refer not only veterans, but other offenders to treatment courts.  Presently, circuit courts aren’t required to provide treatment courts such as veterans’ treatment courts, adult treatment courts, DWI courts, family treatment courts and juvenile treatment courts.

This bill, however, would require each circuit court to establish a treatment court division before Aug. 28, 2021.  It would also provide additional training for both court officials and prosecutors.

Preference is to be given to combat veterans.  Veterans would be those who can show military service documentation of combat theater, receipt of combat service medals, receipt of imminent danger or hostile fire pay or tax benefits.

The bill would make the veterans treatment courts focus … Read the rest

Man can’t be denied privacy for call to lawyer

Supreme Court case determines a DWI suspect is entitled to a private consultation with his attorney under Missouri’s implied consent law, assuming the suspect requests a chance to call his lawyer.

Hearing this issued for the first time, the state high court reviewed Jereme Roesing v. Director of Revenue, an appeal from Jackson County circuit court. By a decision of 4-3, the Court reversed the decision and remanded the case (sends it back) to the trial court. The Court ruled that because law enforcement deprived the man of his right to confer privately with his attorney, and the Director of Revenue failed to show the man was not prejudiced as a result, his refusal to consent to the chemical test was not voluntary and unequivocal, and the circuit court erred in sustaining the revocation of his driving privileges.

The facts of the case are as follows:

The Defendant was arrested … Read the rest

Man gets new DWI trial after blood drawn without warrant

A recent appellate decision has given a Columbia, Missouri man a new trial after it was determined that his blood was withdrawn without a warrant and later used as evidence in his jury trial.

A police officer from the City of Columbia was called to the scene and asked the man if he would consent to a preliminary breath test, to which the man gave a thumbs up sign. The man also allegedly indicated he had been drinking a little.

When the man got to the hospital, the officer placed the man under arrest for drinking while intoxicated. According to court records, before he could read him the implied consent law that requests a blood sample, the man became unresponsive to the officer and the medical staff treating him. The officer then instructed the nurse to take his blood.

The test indicated the man’s blood alcohol content (“BAC”) was .161. … Read the rest

Up with smoke: Proposed Bill reduces penalty for marijuana possession

The Missouri House Special Committee on Criminal Justice voted 7-0 to approve legislation that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.  The bill proposes to reduce the penalty for marijuana possession of less than 36 grams from a felony to a class D misdemeanor.  The bill further would make possession of 10 grams or fewer from a misdemeanor to an infraction.

The idea behind the bill, according to its sponsor Rep. Shamed Dogan, is to allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes other than marijuana possession arrests. Reportedly, marijuana possession is the second most common arrest behind DWI in Missouri, whereas there continues to be large number of opiate related deaths.

This bill is just one of several related to marijuana possession crimes.  A bill that expunges certain prior marijuana conviction records for patients covered under the state’s new medical cannabis law was passed by  the full House just … Read the rest

Proposed bill attempts to curtail expired tags, plates

A great article recently in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch talked about the problem in the City of St. Louis with drivers continuing to drive with expired temporary tags and license plates. 

Anecdotally, the problem appears to be growing in the City. When Jimmie Edwards became the public safety director for the City of St. Louis in 2017, he apparently made it known to police officers to be on the lookout for expired temporary tags and license plates, and then to issue the drivers tickets.

It can be difficult to measure just how much of a problem there really is and how much money is lost in unpaid registration fees and sales taxes.

The Post-Dispatch article stated that St. Louis County police officers last year issued more than 10,000 tickets, including for expired plates.  And that total doesn’t include tickets that were voided, that prosecutors declined to pursue, or were issued … Read the rest

Appellate Decision goes to State in DWI conviction case

State’s conviction upheld of DWI defendant who argued there was not enough evidence to show he was intoxicated while driving. His admissions cost him.

Festus Municipal Court

Festus Municipal Court Traffic Attorneys
Festus, MO Traffic Court
Festus Traffic Lawyers

In 2018, Festus Police issued 1256 citations.

Did you get a ticket in Festus, Missouri?
Stop Sign, Electric Signal Violation, Driving While Suspended, Possession of Marijuana, or any other ticket, our Festus traffic lawyers can handle it where “no points” is the goal.

Festus Speeding Ticket Traffic Law Defense
Did you receive a Speeding ticket in Festus?

This page contains Court information and links for Festus, Missouri.

Festus Municipal Court
711 W. Main St.

Festus, MO 63028

Phone: 636-937-1282

Fax:  636-937-5999

City of Festus, MO website. Check the website to find a list of fines.

Presiding Judge

Hon. Laurence Schmidt

Court Administrator

Adrienne Navarro

Court Hours

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

8:00 AM to 4:00 PM


8:00 am – 1:00 p.m.

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Court is the 2nd Thursday of the Month starting at … Read the rest

DWI expungement

Cleaning your record of that first DWI

Description: Missouri law allows individuals to have their first and only DWI expunged from their records. 

If you have a 10-year-old 1st time offense for a DWI, you have the chance to have it expunged which erases it from the record as if it never existed.  Recent changes in Missouri law under Section 610.140 make it highly advantageous to get this process done.

How do you qualify?

*You pled guilty at least 10 years ago;

*You pled guilty or were convicted for a first alcohol-related driving offense (misdemeanor or  county or city ordinance violation);

*You did not receive DWI while driving a commercial vehicle;

*You have not been convicted of any other alcohol-related driving offense.

If you meet this criterion, you may apply to the county court  – the one in which you pled guilty or were sentenced — for an order … Read the rest

New bill seeks to consolidate small police departments

Jefferson City has become the showdown which will likely determine the fate of small town police departments in St. Louis County.

Politicians in Missouri’s state capital have proposed a bill in the House to merge municipalities with fewer than 5,000 residents and spanning no more than two square miles. The cities would be expected to merge within five years.  If they do not merge, then they will be expected to contract with the St. Louis County police force for law enforcement.

Altogether, there are almost 24 police departments that would be required to combine with neighboring cities or have to pay St. Louis County for its policing services.

The proposal is designed to address concerns that small cities may have been relying upon questionable traffic related tickets to generate revenue.  This policy of generating revenue from excessive ticketing came to light in the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown … Read the rest

Court says: No Hearing, No Denial of Probation

The Missouri appellate court in the Western District issued an opinion stating that a circuit court has authority after sentencing only as provided by statute. In this case, it said that to deny statutes governing a 120-day shock incarceration program by not listening to the Department of Corrections’ recommendation for probation, the circuit court must first hold a hearing within a certain time period. If the circuit court fails to do so, the defendant must be released on probation.

This case is about a defendant who was convicted of felony driving while intoxicated in the Circuit Court of Livingston County.  The defendant was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment. He was ordered to participate in a 120-day institutional treatment program pursuant to § 559.115.3. When the court recommends and receives placement of an offender in a department of corrections 120-day program, the offender shall be released on probation if the Department … Read the rest

New St. Louis Prosecutor makes changes in policy

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell took office at the beginning of the year. The County will no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases of fewer than 100 grams. Prosecution of more than 100 grams will be pursued only if evidence suggests the sale or distribution of marijuana. In comparison, the City of St. Louis announced in June that possession of fewer than 100 grams would not be prosecuted unless there are aggravating circumstances.

The County will no longer prosecute people who fail to pay child support.  However, current cases will not be dropped. Those cases will be placed on hold. The idea is to not revoke probation purely upon the failure to pay child support. Similarly, the County will not press charges against those who do not pay restitution unless there is a court order that establishes a person’s “willful nonpayment” of child support. 

The County will no longer be … Read the rest

Audit of Lewis County questions prosecutor and sheriff policies

A recent audit of Lewis County addressed some irregularities in the prosecutor’s office there.

According to an audit report of Lewis County released last Friday by Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, several recommendations were made for the Prosecuting Attorney, Sherriff, Public Administrator, and others.  The overall rating given the County was “fair.”

One recommendation was a need for accounting controls and procedures for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office when it comes to their policies for amending traffic tickets.  Prosecutors are allowed to amend charges to if the person is willing to perform community service or make a contribution to a not-for-profit organization.  For example, in 2017, some 400 traffic tickets were amended to less severe or non-moving violations.  From those tickets, some $52,000 was given to not-for-profits, which included more than $44,000 given to a not-for-profit founded by the Prosecuting Attorney.

The audit indicated that Missouri’s constitution only allows proceeds of … Read the rest

MO Supreme Court hears case challenging DWI conviction

An interesting case was just heard before the Missouri Supreme Court that challenges a defendant’s drunk driving conviction.

The defendant’s attorneys argued before the seven judge panel that his breathalyzer results should not be admitted and that certain notices send out when a driver’s license is suspended are actually a violation of due process.

The defendant was arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.  While at the police station, an officer asked him to submit to a breath test. The defendant initially declined.  Then he was told his license would be automatically revoked for one year for refusing the test. He also spoke to his attorney.  He then consented to the test, which showed his blood alcohol content was 0.087, which exceeded the legal limit. The officer gave him a notice of suspension and took his driving license.

The defendant asked for an administrative hearing, which ended up upholding his … Read the rest

MO law expands drug treatment court to more of the state

A bill that expands the reach of drug treatment courts in the state of Missouri recently was passed in the State General Assembly. Now those who suffer from substance abuse will have more options.

The bill was passed by the lawmakers and signed by the governor. It consolidates Missouri’s treatment courts – adult treatment court, DWI court, family treatment court, juvenile treatment court, and veterans treatment court. It also updates state statute to reflect the reality of the treatment court system today.

One important part of the bill is that it expands treatment courts to counties that don’t have them because of the cost to operate them. Now, a person in a county that does not have treatment court can be transferred to a court that offers treatment court as long as all parties agree to the transfer. The bill also sets standards of best practices for treatment courts throughout … Read the rest

Driving, texting, under 21 do not mix in MO

Driving while drinking alcohol isn’t the only thing that can get you in trouble for being a driver under the age 21. The other activity that can get you is what you probably do more than a dozen times a day – texting.

The Missouri law, RSMo. Sec. 304.820, deals with texting while driving. Sorry guys, but the use of a hand-held electronic wireless communications device, whether sending, reading, or writing a text message or electronic message is against the law and will get you a ticket if you are caught and under age 21. And this ticket will be considered a moving violation, therefore, there will be points on your driver’s license if you don’t get an attorney to amend the ticket to a non-moving violation.

However, there are exceptions. The provisions of subsection 1 through subsection 3 of this section shall not apply to a person operating:
(1) … Read the rest

Blood shot eyes, alcohol breath not enough for intoxication

A Missouri Western District appellate court recently ruled in favor of a driver charged with a DWI. Basically it said law enforcement use of evidence of the smell of intoxicants from Defendant’s breath and observing the driver’s bloodshot eyes was insufficient in of itself to show intoxication.

In this case, Defendant was pulled over by a state trooper for expired tags, not because of erratic driving. Defendant refused to blow. Defendant is appealing the circuit court’s judgment affirming the Director of Revenue’s decision to revoke his driving privilege for one year for refusing to take a chemical test pursuant to Section 302.574.

The defendant contends that the circuit court’s finding that there were reasonable grounds to believe the defendant was driving a motor vehicle in an intoxicated or drugged condition was not supported by substantial evidence.

The appellate court said that after reviewing the record, there was no indicia of … Read the rest

Safety reasons can be probable cause for a stop

In a recent appellate court decision, the court found a police officer had enough reasonable suspicion to pull over the defendant because of the totality of the circumstances he observed. Specifically, the need for medical attention as the reason for a traffic stop.

In this case, the officer observed Defendant enter his vehicle and vomit out the driver’s side window, which would have given the officer grounds to investigate whether Defendant needed medical attention. Defendant drove away immediately, and the officer then observed Defendant drive over a curb, and then take actions in what the officer suspected was an attempt to evade law enforcement.

Under the Fourth Amendment, an officer may approach a vehicle for safety reasons or to assist a motorist, or if the officer has reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, so long as in either case the officer can point to reasonable, articulable facts upon which to base … Read the rest

Literal compliance with filing rules for Breathalyzer unnecessary

A recent Eastern District of Missouri appellate decision appears to be pro-law enforcement.

The trial court concluded the blood alcohol content results were inadmissible because the officer had not filed a copy of the maintenance report of the breathalyzer with the DHSS, as it is required under 19 CSR 25-30.031(3). The breathalyzer determines whether someone exceeded the allowed drinking amount by taking the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The trial court thereby reinstated the driving privileges of a man in St. Charles County. The Department of Revenue then appealed the decision.

The appellate court reversed and remanded, stating that the trial court was in error, and that absolute and literal compliance with the filing requirement in that regulation is not required because it was a collateral issue that did not affect the performance or validity of the breath test. As a maintenance report was done, the fact that it wasn’t … Read the rest

A call to put teeth back into enforcing traffic violations

Did the 2015 municipal court reforms for traffic violations go too far?

That is the subject of a great editorial by the Kansas City Star a few weeks ago talking about how too many people with traffic tickets are not paying their fines and are getting away with it. Since the state-wide municipal court reform after the Ferguson uprising, there doesn’t seem to be any punishment for not paying fines and not showing up to court.

In many communities, traffic violators have figured out that they don’t need to show up to court because the effective tools of punishment such as higher fines, warrants for not showing up to court, or suspending a person’s license is not an option.

Maximum fines were lowered from $500 to $225. Many cities coffers are severely depleted and are finding it difficult to impossible to enforce law violators without an adequate budget. This has … Read the rest

Out-of-state DWI’s can be used to elevate a DWI to a felony

Interesting case here from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District. It is a good example of how the court analyzes out of state DWI related convictions to determine whether they are the equivalent of a Missouri DWI conviction. This is important when it comes to using the out of state DWI convictions to charge an individual with a higher charge under the Chronic Offender statute.

In Missouri, four prior of intoxication-related traffic offenses (“IRTOs”) means the state can charge you with chronic offender status, thereby making it a felony a Class B felony.

The Prosecution admitted evidence of six previous occasions of IRTOs from Arkansas. Defendant appeals the admission of four of these previous IRTOs.

The court found two of the underlying charges to be distinguishable from the ruling in the case of State v. Coday, 496 S.W.3d 572 (Mo. App. 2016), which did not find IRTO convictions in … Read the rest

MO AG data finds black population more likely to be stopped

The Missouri state attorney general’s office issued a report on the number of traffic stops made in the state and of the racial/ethnic background of the people pulled over.

This report summarizes the data from 606 law enforcement agencies in Missouri for calendar year 2017.

The data represents 97.6% of the 677 law enforcement agencies in the state. The agencies filing reports recorded a total of 1,541,755 vehicle stops, resulting in 99,441 searches and 73,193 arrests.

The analysis of data uses a disparity-index. According to the report, a disparity index value above 1 indicates that a group accounts for a higher proportion of traffic stops than its percentage of the population alone would predict. And a disparity-index value below 1 indicates that a group accounts for a lower proportion of traffic stops than its percentage of the population alone would predict. For example, the 1,189,744 Whites drivers who were stopped … Read the rest

Overturned DWI based on time between accident/blood drawn

A recent Missouri Western District Court of Appeals decision says a guilty verdict failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver was drunk at the time of the accident.
The appellate court essentially determined that too much time had transpired between an accident and when blood was drawn. That fact, plus that there was no evidence that the man had been driving his vehicle when it was driven off the road or evidence of when he became intoxicated led them to overturn the trial court.

The man was clearly drunk according to witnesses but they never observed him driving his vehicle or drinking. Witnesses drove him home and later went back to the scene and called the police. Police found empty beer cans in the vehicle and went to visit the man at his home. He clearly was intoxicated and could not stand to perform a walk and … Read the rest

Kansas City drivers be on the lookout for police

The trick to avoid speeding crack downs is to hear about them first before you hit the road.  So, drivers around Kansas City, this is for you.

For those Kansas City drivers on Interstate 29 and Barry Road area, slow it down and obey speed signs. Starting May 25, the Missouri Highway Patrol along with the Kansas City Police Department and the Platte County Sheriff’s Office started a strategic traffic enforcement effort targeting unsafe driving in this area.  Their hope is to curtail the number of crashes by going after every moving violation they can. According to news reports, the crack down on speeding and unsafe driving will last for several months. This area of Kansas City had seen a high number of crashes this last year.… Read the rest

Cities causing home owners to make up for traffic ticket revenue drops

Drivers are no longer the only people that need to watch out for overzealous small cities seeking to raise money instead of raising taxes. Now homeowners are being aggressively targeted to pay fines related to housing violations.

Apparently, the use of traffic violations is not the only way small cities are raising money to run their towns. A recent trend, especially in the St. Louis region since the post-Ferguson Court Reform that capped the amount of revenue raised from traffic tickets, is for cities to pursue neighborhood ordinance nuisance violations.

What we saw in the St. Louis metro area since post Ferguson also takes place around the country. New stats compiled shows that many cities are using these tactics to raise money and that several St. Louis area municipals remain among the top practitioners.

Cash-strapped towns and cities across the nation don’t want to raise taxes to pay the costs … Read the rest

Court privacy ruling protects driver of borrowed rental car

Picture yourself driving a rental car that was rented by your friend or a family member. You are then pulled over by the police. The police want to search the vehicle. Do you let them? Do you even have a choice?

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week gave us clear answers. This Country’s high court said that people who borrow rental cars from family or friends are generally entitled to the same protections against police searches as the actual authorized driver who rented the vehicle.

The decision was unanimous. If a person is in lawful possession and control of the rental car they are deemed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car, even if the rental agreement doesn’t list them as an authorized driver. Therefore, the police will have to have probable cause of a crime committed or a warrant to search the car.

The … Read the rest

Municipal Court not immune from suit

Local municipal courts do not hold sovereign immunity against claims that its practices of traffic and vehicle violations were unconstitutional.

In November 2016, six motorists filed federal claims against a traffic and ticketing practice by the City of Maplewood did not hold constitutional muster.

The Plaintiff’s argument as described in the opinion: “They assert the City automatically issues an arrest warrant whenever someone ticketed for violating its traffic and vehicle laws fails to pay a fine or appear in court. Once arrested, the motorist is allegedly presented with a Hobson’s choice: Either pay a bond the amount of which was set in advance without any determination of his ability to pay it, or sit in jail possibly for days. The plaintiffs further contend that once a warrant has been issued, a motorist cannot avoid it by voluntarily returning to the municipal court or paying the outstanding fine, but must either … Read the rest

Cops need a warrant to get your vehicle’s black box data

Missouri cops will need to get a search warrant before they can access data from your automobile’s black box.

A recent decision in the Western District of Missouri basically blocks law enforcement from obtaining your black box data after an accident, unless you either consent or they get a warrant.

The appellate court took up the case of a man that had been stopped at traffic and was struck by a semi from behind. The Missouri Highway Patrol then downloaded the data stored on the semi’s electronic control module (ECM). Officers did not use a warrant and argued that there were exigent circumstances, therefore, the semi driver had no expectation of privacy of the data. Up to then, obtaining the black box data had been standard procedure for the highway patrol.

The patrol officer claimed that the driver had given him consent, but that box had not been checked off … Read the rest

Watch out for police hotspots when speeding in Kansas City

If you tend to drive fast around the Kansas City area, you may want to check out a listing of traffic hotspots that the Kansas City Star compiled.

The Kansas City Star stated that in 2017 more than 118,000 traffic and parking tickets were issued by the Kansas City Police Department and processed through the municipal court. A good majority of them were on highways Interstate 435 and U.S. 71.

The newspaper took traffic and parking ticketing data from Kansas City Municipal Court for all of last year. They were able to identify where the most tickets were given, who is getting them, and what infractions are producing the most tickets.

Police broke down the locations where tickets were issued two ways: intersections and specific addresses. Intersections were primarily for traffic tickets such as speeding and improper lane change. Specific addresses were primarily for parking tickets.

In descending order, each … Read the rest

Tips on sharing the road with motorcycles

Driving safety awareness can vary on our roads and highways depending on what you are driving, whether it’s an automobile, commercial truck or motorcycle. Each type of vehicle requires special awareness. Today, we are talking about motorcycles.

Here are a few tips that the Missouri Department of Revenue’s driving guide suggests when you are sharing the road with motorcycles. Be aware of the following about motorcyclists:
• When you are passing, give motorcycles a full lane width. Do not squeeze past these road users. Wait for a clear stretch of road before passing a cyclist in a lane too narrow to share.
• Motorcyclists change speed and lane position when encountering bad road conditions, such as manhole covers, diagonal railroad tracks, road debris, or in strong winds. So be ready to react.
• Motorcycles are often overlooked by motorists. It is not always easy to judge the speed or distance … Read the rest

Legislature proposes a bill to curb racial profiling by law enforcement

Lawmakers in Missouri are reviewing a bill that is designed to curb discriminatory policing among law enforcement agencies. The bill, which recently had a hearing before a legislative committee, calls for disciplinary options and procedures that would be a check on discriminatory practices.

The bill places penalties on both individual law enforcement and on their agency when they are found engaging in discriminatory policing or racial profiling. Discipline could include counseling, termination, or training of any officer found to have engaged in discriminatory policing.

If a law enforcement department is found to have a disproportionate number of minority drivers stopped compared to the state average, the attorney general can provide resources to address it. If the problem continues for another three years, the attorney general could remove the agency’s funding by directing the local governing body to forfeit 25% of the police department’s revenue received from court costs, bond forfeitures, … Read the rest

MO Vehicle liability insurance coverage explained

PulledOver.com Traffic Law Resource Center

Insurance. It’s something we hate to pay for until we need it.

Mandatory Car Insurance

Each state has different requirements for automobile insurance. In Missouri, all motor vehicle operators and owners are required to have liability insurance, which covers the policyholder’s legal liability from injuries to others and damages to their property. The technical term for this is Financial Responsibility. Failure to have Proof of Insurance can result in a ticket and four points on your license. 

Minimum Insurance Coverage

Missouri has a minimum coverage requirement when it comes to liability insurance. Liability insurance covers you when injuries or property damage to others are a result of your actions and negligence. The minimum level of coverage required is $25,000 per person for bodily injury; $50,000 per crash for bodily injury; and $10,000 per crash for property damage. You also are required to have uninsured motorist coverage of $25,000 for bodily injury per person … Read the rest

MO flunks traffic safety: texting, open container laws cited

Missouri needs to evaluate its traffic safety laws. A recent report by a coalition of safety and health groups rated Missouri’s traffic laws towards the bottom of all 50 states.

According to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS), a Washington D.C. group of health companies, insurance agencies and safety companies that encourages the enactment of federal and state laws, the state of Missouri tied for fourth worst in the nation when it comes to safety laws.

The low grading stems from Missouri’s legal code only containing four of the 16 laws the AHAS considers essential for driving and safety.


The AHAS dings Missouri for its open container laws. The state is one of only six states without a statewide open container law. Strict open container laws are said to be helping other states reduce fatal auto accidents.

Although St. Louis and Kansas City do not have … Read the rest

Rehabilitation specialists help extend your ability to drive

As you get older and into your Golden Years, your driving skills begin to deteriorate. Your ability to respond as quickly as you did compared to just 5 years before is noticeable not only to your friends and family but to you. Your confidence to drive at night is diminished. If this is a scenario for you or a loved one, then you may want to consider having a driving evaluation done by a certified driving rehabilitation specialist. This person can help you to adapt new technology to extend your driving years.

Because of new technology, your ability to drive into later years of your life has been extended. Some of these adaptive technologies are as simple as swivel seats for more convenient access or hand controls for a driver to safely operate a vehicle.

But each person and their skill and physical levels are different and require different forms … Read the rest

FAQs about Missouri’s Chemical Revocation Laws

You are driving home from a party. In your rear view mirror you see the red lights and hear the siren of police car pulling you over. The problem is you had a few drinks, but you’re not sure just how much alcohol you have had. Questions race through your mind. Do I blow in a machine that tests my alcohol content?

You are now being arrested for driving while intoxicated. The police officer asks you to submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol content or drug level.

While you have 20 minutes to contact an attorney to ask what to do, sometimes you simply aren’t able to get in touch with an attorney. You are confused on whether to say “Yes” or “No.” If you say, “No,” and refuse to blow, the State of Missouri deems you to have consented to such testing under its “implied … Read the rest

Missouri’s license suspension process can be confusing

In a previous blog, we discussed how accumulating too many points within a short period of time can lead to a suspension of your driving privileges.

We talked about how every year you drive without getting new points on your record, the points will be reduced. For example, 1 year — total remaining points reduced by one-third; 2 years — remaining points reduced by one-half; and 3 years — points reduced to zero. Please note that although your points may be reduced to zero, certain types of convictions must remain listed permanently on your Missouri driver record.

During the point suspension process and after, you may have a few questions. The Department of Revenue offers information on its website that answer some of those questions.

Why is my driving privilege suspended, revoked, or denied?

There are a number of reasons why your driver license may be suspended, revoked, or denied. … Read the rest

Winter snow and ice driving calls for a cautious mindset

Winter is now upon us. Very soon this season, there inevitably will be snow, ice or some combination of the two. Snow and ice can play havoc upon drivers, often causing travel delays and lots of accidents, many of which can be avoided.

When driving through a snowing or ice condition, it is important to change your attitude about travel. Your number one concern should be safety and not getting home or to the party on time. In fact, it is often better to cancel your plans if you don’t have to be out on the road.

Nevertheless, there will always be times when despite the difficult conditions, you will have to venture out on snow and ice to get somewhere. If that is the case, the Department of Revenue’s Safe Travel Guide offers several tips. Just remember the following rhyme: “Ice and Snow — Take it slow!”

Here are … Read the rest

Nighttime driving safety tips to help you Arrive Alive

There are hundreds of traffic accidents every year in the state of Missouri. Some even resulting in deaths. Most of the time the accidents are a result of careless driving from not using common sense or defensive driving techniques.
The Missouri Department of Revenue has published a small book called the Safe Driver Guide. One chapter deals solely with driver safety during special driving conditions.
For example, night driving increases the chance of an accident for many reasons, one of which is simply the glare of oncoming headlights that make it more difficult to see the road ahead of you, not to mention the impact that darkness surrounding you limits what you can see. Please be aware that you must use your headlights any time weather conditions require the use of your windshield wipers.
Here are a few tips for night driving:
• Make sure your windows are clean.
• … Read the rest

Missouri given “F” grade for driving safety

Have you heard Missouri is considered one of the worst states for road safety? That’s according to a recent report from the National Safety Commission.

Missouri received a grade of an “F” for road safety, which was one of nine states to receive the lowest grade. Overall the state was ranked 49th. The grades were based on each state’s statistics related to failure to wear seatbelts, distracted driving incidents, speeding tickets, and alcohol-impaired driving (DWI’s).

Partly resulting in such a low grade is Missouri’s seatbelt and texting laws. In Missouri, a driver cannot be pulled over just for not wearing a seatbelt. There must be a secondary offense observed, such as speeding, following too close, erratic driving, invalid license, etc. Therefore, many drivers are not buckled up and pay the price in injuries or even death. As to texting, only drivers under age 21 and commercial drivers can be ticketed … Read the rest

Missouri task force looks to strengthen driving safety laws

Safety was the key word in discussions at a recent task force meeting in Jefferson City, Mo., that discussed Missouri’s transportation system.

The task force, named Missouri’s 21st Century Transportation System task force, is charged with reviewing the funding of the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).

Between 1999-2016, MoDOT installed 800 miles of guard cable on Missouri interstates. According to MoDOT representatives, the guard cable has saved more than 500 lives. The cost of the safety cables, approximately $125,000 per mile. And another $10,000 per mile is needed to maintain annually.

Missouri has the seventh-largest state highway system, with 33,884 miles of roadway.

MoDOT says fatality crashes increased nine percent in 2016. Hood testifies 950 people died in Missouri traffic crashes in 2016.

Deaths continue to occur as motorists continue to drive without buckling up, driving intoxicated, texting while driving, and speeding. Sometimes deaths result because all of these factors. … Read the rest

Missouri DWI laws and treatment courts

Ever wonder about the underlying mechanics of how Missouri’s DWI laws have been put together? For the answer to that question, you need to look at House Bill 1695 that went into effect August 28, 2010.

The bill changed the laws for repeat alcohol offenders and drivers with high blood-alcohol levels. It also affected how a person qualifies for driving privileges. Other changes included the following:

• Creation of a centralized reporting database that tracks all driving-while-impaired offenses, from arrest to disposition.

• Prevents municipal courts from hearing an intoxication-related case if the offender has two or more “intoxicated-related” offenses, or two or more “alcohol-related” offenses.

• DWI courts were established to facilitate treatment for repeat offenders and drivers with high blood-alcohol levels.

• Establishes criteria for qualifying participants and graduates of a DWI court program to obtain a court-ordered limited driving privilege.

• Prohibits a first alcohol-related driving offense … Read the rest

The law balancing safety v. excessive regulation-punishment

Ever wonder where cities get their authority to implement traffic laws? In Missouri, the state legislature has passed multiple statutes related to traffic. One statute, 304.010, sets out maximum speed limits and penalties, and grants authority to cities to set those limits.

One provision, states that cities, towns and villages may regulate the speed of vehicles on state roads and highways within their cities’, towns’ or villages’ corporate limits. To do so, they must pass an ordinance with the approval of the state highways and transportation commission.

The statute says that if there is any reduction of speed in these cities, towns or villages, they must be designed to expedite the flow of traffic on state roads or highways to be consistent with public safety. That basically means the commission can declare any cities’ ordinance void if it finds that such ordinance is not designed to expedite traffic flow, and … Read the rest

Missouri’s open container law diverts funds to road safety

Since 2001, Missouri has been paying millions in penalties for its refusal to obey a federal law prohibiting passengers in moving vehicles from drinking alcohol. The state’s open container law has cost Missouri $275 million that could have been used to road and bridge construction.

Never mind, the Missouri Department of Transportation says, it needs $825 million to maintain its roads. Though this sounds counterintuitive, Missouri’s non-compliance with the law is a good thing because it is inadvertently saving lives. How is that?

Due to the federal penalties, the money has had to be spent elsewhere, such as on small engineering projects and alcohol awareness programs and measures. Although MoDOT needs the funds, they are quick to concede the penalties that have led to the loss of the designated funds have been a blessing for the state’s transportation system.

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century mandates that states … Read the rest

Columbia bill makes texting and driving an offense for all ages

The City of Columbia, Missouri, is considering passing a bill that will ban texting while driving for drivers of all ages.

Currently, there is a statewide rule that prohibits texting for drivers 21 years old and younger. If passed, the ordinance would make Columbia one of the few Missouri towns that bans texting for all ages.

However, the legal grounds to pass such a regulation is questionable. 

Supporters of the bill argue that they will have different approach for violators 22 years and older. Columbia police will be directed to issue tickets to the older adults only after another primary traffic offense has happened. The current state law for 21 and younger makes driving while texting a primary offense that police can pull the younger drivers over. The law prohibits the use of a cell phone to “send, read or write a text message or electronic message.” The older drivers Read the rest

Appellate Court allows Portable Breath Test results for probable cause

A recent Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District opinion held that the state statute provides that a portable breath test result is admissible to show probable cause of a driver’s intoxication, but that it depended on the test’s numerical reading, which is therefore admissible for that purpose.

The case was an appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District from Greene County. Judge Mary W. Sheffield, P.J., authored the opinion, with Judges Gary W. Lynch and Don E. Burrell concurring.

The Defendant, Charles Hollis Roux, was charged with driving while intoxicated. The defendant filed motion to suppress all evidence in the case. The trial court granted the motion and the State appealed. The state raised two points of alleged error. First, State argued that trial court’s decision was not supported by substantial evidenced, and, second, that the trial court erred in refusing to admit the result of the portable … Read the rest

Missouri appellate court rules on DWI probable cause standard

A recent Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District decision continues to give law enforcement a low burden to show probable cause to pull a DWI suspect over.

The case is Brian Charles Srader v. the Department of Revenue.  Srader was arrested for driving while intoxicated on February 15, 2015.  A breath test was performed on Srader at the police station.  The test showed that he had a blood alcohol content of .122 percent.  The Director of Revenue then suspended his driving privileges. Srader then petitioned the circuit court for a trial de novo with the sole witness being the arresting officer.  After the trial, the court entered its judgment to set aside the suspension of Srader’s driving privileges. The judge had found that the Director’s evidence was credible and that Srader had a BAC level over the legal limit of .08 percent. Despite the strong evidence for intoxication, the … Read the rest

Foundation requirements for prior convictions in DWI

A recent Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District opinion shows the importance of prosecutors laying a proper evidentiary foundation to introduce evidence of prior convictions in driving while intoxicated cases.


In the case of State v. Gary Lee Pylypczuk, following a jury trial in the circuit court of Clay County, Mr. Pylypczuk appealed his conviction of driving while intoxicated.  The DWI was in violation of § 577.010. Pylypczuk argued that the circuit court improperly admitted evidence of his status as a persistent intoxication-related traffic offender because the evidence was not properly authenticated.


The court reversed the sentence imposed by the Court and remanded the case for jury sentencing.


In its holding, the Appellate Court stated that Section 577.023 does not allow records from the Missouri Uniform Law Enforcement System’s Driving While Intoxicated Tracking System (DWITS) to be admitted to prove a prior conviction in the … Read the rest

MO state troopers to start patrolling St. Louis highways

The City of St. Louis highways will be getting some help when it comes to highway traffic enforcement.

The Missouri Highway Patrol will soon be patrolling the interstates in St. Louis. It will be a 90-day pilot program to free up police officers to focus on violent crimes in the city.

The patrols will focus on certain stretches of Interstates 70 and 55 that are located within city limits. Approximately 20 to 30 troopers will be assigned to the program with about eight troopers on each shift.

The trooper patrols, which are expected to start in early July, will be available to assist city police officers if they need assistance. As to how many city officers would be freed up is unclear at this point. Apparently this type of temporary program had been used once before during a spike in violent crime in February of 2015.  Then police Chief Sam Read the rest

MoDOT officials advise drivers to be cautious on eclipse day

It will be the first total solar eclipse in the St. Louis area since 1442.  At the same time local officials are concerned about traffic safety.

Transportation and police agencies across Missouri and Illinois have issued warnings about next Monday’s solar eclipse, warning that traffic snarls and potentially accidents could occur when motorists travel from prime viewing areas.

Jefferson and Franklin counties and points farther south are expected to be among the top spots for Missourians to watch the eclipse.

A national task force of communications personnel from each of 14 states in the eclipse’s “totality” path was created to help address traffic safety concerns.  Because this is rare event, the task force has had to look at how southern states have adapted and prepared for hurricanes. 

In Missouri, MoDOT has increased the number of staffers on motorist assist  vehicles.  They will work with the Missouri Highway Patrol to monitor Read the rest

Zipper merging = the safer way

The next time you drive up to a road construction site transportation experts want you to think “Zipper.”  So instead of merging into a single lane early as possible, experts state that it is better to drive to the end of the lane that has to merge and proceed to take turns merging in a zipper-like fashion.

The problem typically occurs when most drivers see the first “lane closed ahead” sign in a work zone and they immediately slow down and attempt to merge into the lane that will continue through the construction area. People assume that if they don’t merge early they no-one will allow them to merge later, or that it is impolite to pass up the line to merge closer to the work zone.  And sometimes driver’s will react angrily that another car has passed them up after they had been waiting in line first and for Read the rest

Kinloch officials ordered to court to explain traffic ticket

A St. Louis County circuit court judge ordered City of Kinloch offices to appear in court to explain why they allegedly would not allow a citizen to contest a traffic ticket she received last month.

The individual, Kathy Grant of Florissant, received a $125 traffic ticket in the mail on March 6.  The ticket accused her of driving 51-mph in a 40-mph speed zone on North Hanley Road in Kinloch on February 16. 

Grant denies she was speeding.  The ticket was mailed to Grant’s husband but she admits she was the driver of the car, heading to work that day.

The ticket showed a photo of the back of Grant’s car and license plate but no photo of the driver.  Also, the ticket did not contain a specific address as to where she was caught speeding. 

 The ticket payment date for the fine was April 5, however, she gave her Read the rest

MO Appellate Court rules on State’s driving eligibility rule

The Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District (Division Three) held last week that Missouri substantive law governs the Director or Revenue’s decisions when it comes to issuance, suspension, or revocation of a Missouri license regardless of the driver’s home state at the time of conviction. The interstate Driver License Compact does not supplant the Missouri 10-year ineligibility rule under §302.060(9), the appellate court said.


Here is the background of the case.  The Director of Revenue appealed the trial court’s judgment ordering the DOR to issue a Missouri driver’s license to William Thanner.


Thanner received three DWI convictions while residing in Georgia between 1996 and 2010. He completed all requirements for reinstatement in Georgia and had a valid Georgia license when he moved in 2015 to Missouri. The Director of DOR denied Thanner’s application for a Missouri license, citing §302.060(9) imposing a 10-year ban following two or more DWI convictions. Upon Read the rest

Appellate Court rules on breathalyzer certification check

A recent Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District decision reversed and remanded the lower court by holding that a trial court erred in excluding the test result from evidence because the Director of Revenue laid a proper foundation for its admission.

The Department of Health and Senior Services regulation 19 CSR 25-30.051(4) requires annual certification of any breath alcohol simulator used to perform a maintenance check on an evidential breath analyzer. The Court went on to say that to lay a foundation for the admission of a breath test result at trial, the Director only need submit proof the simulator was certified at the time of the relevant maintenance check.  In this case, that check was performed within 35 days prior to the Driver’s breath test. The Court said the Director does not have to submit proof of certification from any other year for purposes of admissibility.

The Director of … Read the rest

A $3.00 court fee applied to traffic tickets now under scrutiny

A $3.00 court fee charged to municipal court tickets that funds sheriff’s pensions is under scrutiny in Missouri.

Missouri’s municipal courts began in 2014 to charge a $3.00 court fee to defendants to help fund the Sheriffs’ Retirement Fund. However, some judges and legal scholars are questioning whether the charge is constitutional because the sheriff’s department does not operate at the municipal level.

As many retirement funds for government workers were having trouble receiving funding in Missouri and other states, that has not been the case for the sheriff’s fund. The $3.00 charge ended up increasing the retirement fund significantly, up more than $10 million in assets between 2012 and 2015.

Many sheriff employees throughout the state, particularly in rural areas, receive low wages and depend upon the fund’s pension to live off of after retirement.

The attorney general at the time, Chris Koster, issued three opinions that indicated the … Read the rest

Mo. looking to educate drivers on how to interact with police

To avoid violent and sometimes deadly encounters between drivers and the police, the Missouri legislature is proposing bills that would help educate both motorists and the police on proper conduct.

The state of Illinois recently passed a bill that sets out a set of rules of engagement for drivers and the police to follow. A similar bill in Virginia is set to be passed.  There are also a few states considering doing the same: Mississippi, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

The idea is to make traffic stops and police interactions more transparent by educating both sides on how to behave. The so called “Rules of the Road” adopted in Illinois this February is a model for other states when it comes to the details of proper and safe driver behavior that can help reduce the stress during a police encounter.

In Missouri, leaders want to include the information Read the rest

Fate of GPS for interlock ignition devices uncertain in Minn.

If you are a convicted drunk driver in the state of Minnesota, your location is being tracked through a GPS tracking system.  However, the Minnesota state legislature never approved its current use by the Department of Public Safety. 

It should be noted for our Missouri readers that the State of Missouri, through the Department of Revenue, requires GPS tracking for hardship licenses and reinstatement after a DWI.

There are some 11,000 convicted DUI drivers in Minnesota.  The DPS is currently tracking their whereabouts with GPS.  The interlock ignition law was passed in 2010 without the intention of tracking drivers with a GPS system.  Some legislators in Minnesota are concerned about whether this tracking is overreaching and unconstitutional.

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers are proposing a bill to end the use of GPS tracking of DUI offenders using ignition interlock equipment.

Opponents of the GPS tracking say that the issue is Read the rest

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

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.

https://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

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
Read the rest

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
Read the rest

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.


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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.

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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.

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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