Tag Archives: Clayton Missouri

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 turn field sobriety test.

He was arrested at 11:40 p.m. and transported to the hospital due to concerns about the level of alcohol in his system. He refused to provide a blood sample. A warrant to draw blood sample was obtained and blood was drawn at 2:47 a.m. The test determined that his blood alcohol level was .129 at that time. The man was found guilty during a bench trial for DWI.

The Western District reversed the trial judge. They held that while the State established that he was intoxicated at the time he was first observed by witness, there was no evidence as to when the accident occurred, when the man last consumed alcohol or when he became intoxicated. The trial court erred in convicting him of driving while intoxicated because the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he operated a vehicle while intoxicated.

The court discussed the timing of the accident and the time blood was drawn to prove intoxication: “Wilhite raises one point on appeal. In his sole point on appeal, Wilhite argues that there is insufficient evidence to convict him of driving while intoxicated because the evidence failed to establish a temporal connection between Wilhite’s alleged operation of a motor vehicle and his intoxication.

“The offense of driving while intoxicated, section 577.010.1, requires proof of two elements: (1) that the defendant operated a motor vehicle, and (2) was intoxicated while doing so.” State v. Ollison, 236 S.W.3d 66, 68 (Mo. App. W.D. 2007).

Wilhite begins by arguing that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he operated a motor vehicle because no one witnessed him actually driving the truck.
However, Wilhite was the only one at the accident scene on the side of a rural roadway and told Tracy that he was the only one in the vehicle. Based on these facts, the trial court could have reasonably inferred he was operating the truck at the time of the accident. There was sufficient circumstantial evidence to establish that he operated the vehicle. See State v. Besendorfer, 439 S.W.3d 831, 836-37 (Mo. App. W.D. 2014)(holding that circumstantial evidence, including Besendorfer admitting he was the only person in the truck when he was found, was sufficient evidence for “a reasonable trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Besendorfer had ‘operated’ his vehicle.”).

Wilhite then argues that there was insufficient evidence that he was intoxicated at the time he was operating the truck. “Proof of intoxication at the time of arrest, when remote from the operation of the vehicle, is insufficient in itself to prove intoxication at the
time the person was driving.” Ollison, 236 S.W.3d at 68. “In this remote circumstance, ‘time [is] an element of importance’ that the State must establish to meet its burden of proving the defendant drove while intoxicated.” State v. Davis, 217 S.W.3d 358, 360 (Mo. App. W.D. 2007) (quoting State v. Dodson, 496 S.W.2d 272, 274 (Mo. App. W.D. 1973).
“‘Remoteness’, as used in drunk driving cases, has two dimensions: remoteness in time from operating a vehicle, and remoteness in distance from the vehicle.” State v. Varnell, 316 S.W.3d 510, 514 (Mo. App. W.D. 2010).

When the defendant is arrested at a remote time from the operation of the vehicle, the State must show further evidence than a test that reveals the defendant was intoxicated at the time of arrest. State v. Wilson, 273 S.W.3d 80, 82 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008). “There are two rationales for this requirement, but both have the same foundation: the longer the interval between driving and testing, the less accurately the test reflects the state of the driver at the time of the arrest.” Varnell, 316 S.W.3d at 514.

The first reason that an extended time period between driving and testing can result in an inaccurate test is that the defendant may have had time and opportunity to drink alcohol after he ceased driving. Id. The second rationale for requiring additional evidence is based on the manner in which alcohol is processed by the human body. Id. One does not become intoxicated immediately upon the ingestion of alcohol. Davis, 217 S.W.3d at 361. “[A]lcohol must be absorbed into the bloodstream before it affects a person, and it can take thirty to ninety minutes before the maximum blood alcohol level is reached.”
Varnell, 316 S.W.3d at 514. “[I]t is theoretically possible for a driver who quickly ingests alcohol immediately prior to taking a short drive to be in a sober condition when driving, but, due to process of absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream, to exceed the limit afterwards.” Id.

In this case, Wilhite was dropped off at his trailer at approximately 10:30 p.m. and was first contacted by Trooper Johnson at approximately 11:30 p.m. For this at least one hour there was no testimony as to Wilhite’s actions or his access to alcohol. Ward was present in the trailer for at least a portion of that time and testified at trial, but the State never inquired as to whether or not Wilhite had access to or consumed any alcohol during that time period. Wilhite was at home for a significant amount of time, giving him ample opportunity to consume alcohol after he drove the truck but prior to his first contact with Trooper Johnson and getting his blood drawn at least three hours later. There was no evidence to establish a correlation between the blood alcohol content reflected in the blood test result and Wilhite’s blood alcohol content at the unknown time he last operated the vehicle. However, the lack of a correlation between the test result and the operation of the vehicle is not dispositive of the issues in this case.”

The case, WD80701, originated in Boone County and the appeal was heard before Division Three Judges Victor C. Howard (Presiding Judge), Cynthia L. Martin, and Gary D. Witt. The opinion was written by Judge Witt, June 5, 2018.

MO Vehicle liability insurance coverage explained

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 and $50,000 for bodily injury per crash. This last coverage is used in cases where another driver hits you but does not have insurance of their own or a driver hits you and drives away from the scene.

What Counts as Proof of Coverage?

To get people to buy coverage, the state mandates that vehicle owners show proof of insurance when it comes to registering their vehicle or renewing license plates.

When you go into the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles, you have options to show your insurance coverage: a copy or original of your liability insurance policy; a paid insurance receipt showing the policy information; an ID card issued by the department when a surety bond, real estate bond, or security is filed with the department; a certificate of self-insurance from the Department; or a hand held electronic device showing your policy.

Other Insurance Options

Surprisingly, insurance coverage from an insurance company is not the only way to meet the states coverage requirements. There is self-insurance, which if you have 25 vehicles and you can show you will pay for damage caused by your vehicles. Or you can make a deposit of $60,000 cash with the State Treasurer, which will issue you a certificate of self-insurance.

Finally, another option is the use of Surety bond, Real Estate bond, Certificate of Deposit, or some other Negotiable Security. If you can show $60,000 (or $120,000 if a real estate bond) to the Department of Revenue, the department will issue you a certificate of self-insurance as proof of insurance.

In a nutshell, these are the basic ways to obtain the required amount of liability insurance in order to drive motor vehicles in Missouri. Commercial trucking drivers must meet different requirements of insurance coverage.

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 highway rest areas for congestion.  The expectation is that if the rest areas get filled up, they will have to be closed.

MoDOT expects to see a large increase of motorists in the state.  Estimates place it anywhere between 300,000 to 1.2 million visitors from other states who will be traveling to this central state to see the eclipse.  Excess traffic is expected not just the day of the eclipse but the day before and after as well.

Illinois also expects an uptick in traffic. Estimates are from 100,000 to 200,000 expected to visit the southern Illinois viewing areas near Carbondale.

Because of the increased traffic, transportation leasers are advising visitors to find a safe location, arrive extra early, remain there for a good period afterwards, and leave late.

Drivers are encouraged to turn on their headlights and watch out for pedestrians on smaller roads. People are expected to be randomly parking and walking shortly before the eclipse to get good vantage points and drivers must be aware of their safety.

MoDOT is warning drivers that they cannot stop on interstate highways and that parking is illegal on shoulders.

Clayton, MO Traffic Court

Clayton Traffic Lawyers

Did you get a ticket in Clayton, Missouri?

Stop Sign, Electric Signal Violation, Driving While Suspended, Possession of Marijuana, or any other ticket, our Clayton traffic lawyers can handle it where “no points” is the goal.

Clayton Speeding Ticket Traffic Law Defense

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Our Clayton traffic lawyers handle speeding ticket defense, where “no points” is the goal.

Clayton MIP Lawyers

Did you receive a Minor in Possession ticket?

Our Clayton MIP lawyers handle MIP defense, where the object is keeping your record clean and your driver license from being suspended or revoked.

Clayton DWI Criminal Defense Attorneys

Did you receive a ticket for Driving While Intoxicated?

Our Clayton DWI attorneys handle drunk driving defense, where your driver license and your freedom are at stake. We handle all aspects including the Administrative Hearing or the ramifications of a refusal.

Let our Clayton traffic law attorneys start helping you today. Contact Us

This page contains Court information Links for Clayton, Missouri.

Clayton Municipal Court

10 S. Brentwood
Clayton, MO 63105

Tel: (314) 290-8441
Fax: (314) 863-0295

City of Clayton, MO website.

For more information regarding your case visit municourt.net.

Judge
Hon. Joseph Dulle

Prosecuting Attorney
Darold E. Crotzer, Jr, Esq.

Court Administrator
Rico Jones

Court Dates and Docket Dates
Traffic: 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month at 6:00 P.M. Doors open at 5:30
Housing: 2nd Thursday of every month at 9:00 A.M.

For information on your ticket, click here.

Court fines may be paid by one of the following methods:

  1. Pay Traffic Tickets Online at https://www.ipaycourt.com/claytonParking tickets can be paid here.
  2. Mail payments in the form of check or money order only made payable to City of Clayton to: Municipal Court
    City of Clayton
    10 S. Brentwood Blvd
    Clayton, MO  63105
  3. Pay fines in person with cash, check, money order, MasterCard or Visa.  Please note that court fine payments must be received before 4:00 p.m. on the day of court.