Tag Archives: faq

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 filed with the DHSS was ancillary.

The case was Gerald R. Roam v. Department of Revenue. The opinion was written by Judge Robert G. Dowd, Jr.. Judges J. Philip J. Hess, P.J. and Mary K. Hoff, J., concurred. The attorney for the Appellant was Morgan Brewington, and attorney for Respondent was Robert S. Adler.

The court wrote: “In spite of the established case law, Roam insists that the Director must demonstrate “absolute and literal compliance” with this DHSS regulation before the BAC results can be admitted into evidence, and the trial court seems to have agreed. Besides being in conflict with the above law, our courts have specifically rejected this proposition as well. In Potts v. State, the court held instead that the Director must only demonstrate absolute and literal compliance with those regulations “governing the actual performance” of the maintenance check and not with those regulations “governing collateral issues which do not affect the actual performance or validity of the test itself.” 22 S.W.3d 226, 230 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000) (emphasis added). Potts determined that the requirement for filing a copy of the maintenance report with DHSS is a collateral issue that does not affect the performance or validity of the breath test. Id. at 231. Roam has failed to adequately address, much less distinguish, Turcotte, Potts or any of the above precedent. Instead, he stated in his brief that the trial court had Turcotte before it, knew the law and is presumed to have followed it. But clearly the court did not follow the law. It was error not to admit the BAC results on the ground that the maintenance report had not been filed with DHSS. Therefore, we must reverse and remand.”

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 accounted for 77.2% of all traffic stops in 2017. Whites comprise an estimated 82.8% of Missouri’s driving age population. The disparity-index value for Whites is, therefore, .93 (i.e., .772/.828). Whites drivers were stopped, in other words, at slightly below the rate expected based on their fraction of the driving-age population from the 2010 Census.

The results were not the same for several of the other groups. The report states that African-Americans represent 10.9% of the driving-age population but 18.7% of all traffic stops, for a disparity-index value of 1.72. African-Americans were stopped at a rate 72% greater than expected based solely on their proportion of the driving-age population. Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, and persons of mixed or unknown race were stopped at rates well below their proportion of the driving-age population. The values on the disparity index for the different groups can be compared directly to one another. For example, the rate at which African-American motorists were stopped is 1.85 times that of the rate at which White motorists were stopped (i.e., 1.72/.93). In other words, accounting for their respective proportions of Missouri’s driving-age population, African-Americans were stopped at a rate 85% higher than Whites.

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 in his police report. The appellate court relied on a recent US Supreme Court case on GPS spying to find the police arguments were insufficient.

Judge Cynthia L. Martin wrote: “Sergeant Meyers’s testimony underscores that ECM data was seized from West’s truck not because there was probable cause to believe that West had committed a crime and that evidence of the crime could be found in the truck, but instead to investigate an accident to determine whether West had committed a crime.”

The court added that to allow warrantless searches on these grounds would “emasculate” the Fourth Amendment to the constitution.

Here is an unofficial summary of the case and should not be used as legal doctrine:

(1) The State’s arguments on appeal asserting error in granting the motion to suppress which were not raised with the trial court are not preserved for appellate review.

(2) Either a reasonable expectation of privacy or trespass on a possessory interest in a Fourth Amendment protected effect will afford standing to assert a Fourth Amendment violation. Here, West was the lawful operator and possessor of the semitruck at the time the police physically intruded into the semi-truck’s passenger compartment to connect a computer to the ECM located underneath the semi-truck’s dash. That physical intrusion into, and occupation of, the semi-truck constituted an actionable trespass into a protected Fourth Amendment effect (a vehicle) which afforded West standing to move to suppress the data downloaded from the ECM.

(3) The automobile exception allows police to search a vehicle and seize
contraband found therein without a warrant if there is probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains contraband and exigent circumstances necessitate the search. The State presented no evidence during the hearing on the motion to suppress to suggest or establish that the police had probable cause to believe that contraband or illegal items were located in the semi-truck.

(4) While the State presented testimony that ECM data might be overwritten if the semi-truck was moved, the trial court did not find this evidence to be sufficient to constitute an exigent circumstance permitting a warrantless search. The trial court’s finding was supported by substantial evidence.

(State of Missouri v. Anthony West, WD80879)

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 of the following intersections had more than 500 citations:

10. U.S. 71 and Bannister Road

These were mostly speeding tickets, where drivers average 13 mph over the limit.

9. I-435 and 87th Street

Speeding again received the most tickets at this location with the average over the limit was 15 mph.

8. U.S. 169 and Briarcliff Parkway

Speeding has the most, with average over the limit of 13 mph.

7. U.S. 71 and 55th Street

The most common ticket given was for not properly displaying a state license plate on a vehicle, followed by speeding.

6. I-435 and Eastwood

Speeding again had the most tickets.

5. U.S. 71 and 75th Street

At this intersection, people were given the most tickets for not using designated traffic lanes and not properly displaying a state license plate. Tickets included about 100 seat belt violations.

4. Blue Parkway and South Noland Road

Speeding it is, with average speed 15 mph.

3. I-435 and Missouri 210

Speeding was number one reason for tickets here.

2. U.S. 71 and 39th Street

Speeding wins again. The Star notes that the highest speed recorded was 97 mph in a 55 mph zone.

1. Around the Heart of America Bridge

And to buck the trend, the main reason for some 1,400 plus tickets was for failure to obey signs with a lane change.

For the original article click here.

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 of a motorcycle. So be extra cautious.
• You should not share a lane with a motorcycle. The motorcyclist needs the entire lane for safety reasons.
• On residential streets, especially those with parked cars, travel at or below the speed limit, depending on sight distance.
• 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.

Here are a few safety tips for motorcycle drivers that the DOR guide book suggests:

1. The law requires you to wear a helmet. Wearing a safety-certified helmet can prevent serious head injuries or death.
2. Be sure your motorcycle is in safe condition and has all the equipment required by law.
3. Make sure motorists see you. Wear bright colored clothes and stay out of a vehicle’s blind spots. Use proper lights and reflectors when riding after dark.
4. Make sure you signal before you slow down, change lanes or turn. Before merging, changing lanes, or turning, scan behind and in front to ensure that it is safe to make this maneuver. Do so in plenty of time and in cooperation with other drivers who will be affected by your move. If it is not safe, continue on a straight course and scan repeatedly. Only move once it is safe.
5. Be careful when passing to the left of a parked or moving vehicle. You should leave 3 to 4 feet of clearance to avoid suddenly opened car doors or to allow for a vehicle to swerve.
6. Be extra careful at intersections. Do not assume your right-of-way when there is a vehicle approaching. Be aware that motor vehicle drivers may not see you approaching the intersection, or may believe that you are moving at a slower speed than you are.
7. Keep a steady line and be predictable as a courtesy to other traffic and to increase your personal safety.

f both automobile drivers and motorcyclists keep these tips in mind when sharing our roadways, needless accidents will be prevented. Safe travels to all of you.

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.

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 consent” law. Again, you have the right to refuse to submit to the test but if you refuse to take the alcohol or drug test, your Missouri driving privilege will be revoked for one year. This is known as a “Chemical Revocation.”

The topic of chemical revocation can be confusing. The Missouri Department of Revenue has a helpful Website that provides a lot of information related to the implied consent law and chemical revocation. Here are a few Q&A’s from the DOR that will help answer some of your questions:

Can I have any type of driving privilege while I am under a Chemical Revocation?

You may be eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP). The LDP may be used for work, your alcohol program, medical treatment, school, etc. You must install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) and file an SR-22 form.

Do I need an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) to reinstate my Missouri driving privilege after I have served my 1-year revocation period?

If your driver record shows more than one intoxication-related law enforcement contact, you are required to have an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed on any vehicle you operate. You must maintain the device for a minimum period of six months from the reinstatement date. You will be monitored during the last three months of the six-month period. If you have any violations, as determined by the device manufacturer during the monitoring period, your requirement to maintain the device will be extended until you complete a three-consecutive-month period without violation. Violations are defined in 7 CSR 60-2.010 (refer to “violations reset” language).

What is an SR-22 insurance filing?

An SR-22 form is an insurance filing from your insurance company that shows your motor vehicle has liability insurance.

How long do I need the SR-22 insurance filing?

You must file the SR-22 form for two years from the effective date of your Chemical Revocation.

Why do I need to complete a Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP) if I was not convicted (or, I was convicted of a lesser charge)?

If you have an alcohol offense, such as an alcohol or drug revocation on your driver record, the law requires you to complete a SATOP (or comparable course) as a condition of reinstating your driving privilege in Missouri.

Where can I get information about Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP) courses?

Information regarding SATOP courses is available on the Missouri Department of Mental Health, Division of Behavioral Health website. For a SATOP provider near you check out our list of SATOP providers.

How do I appeal the revocation of my driving privilege?

You must petition the Circuit or Associate Circuit Court in the county where the arrest or stop occurred. A petition for review must be filed within 30 days from the date the Notice of Revocation is issued. If the arrest or stop occurred in another state, you must petition the Cole County Circuit Court, in Jefferson City, Missouri.

When will the Chemical Revocation come off my driver record?

A Chemical Revocation (for refusal to submit to an alcohol or drug test) is a permanent part of the record and can never be removed.

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.
• Turn your headlights on from ½ hour after sunset until ½ hour before sunrise.
• Make sure your headlights are clean and working well. Have them checked from time to time for correct aim.
• Use your high beams only when there are no oncoming vehicles.
• Do not overdrive your headlights. Your headlights only let you see about 350 feet ahead. Be sure you are driving slow enough to stop or turn if needed.
• Use your low beams when you come within 500 feet (about one block) of an oncoming vehicle. Also use your low beams when following another vehicle within 300 feet.
• Slow down when nearing a curve if you are driving the maximum posted speed limit.
• Use the edgeline as a guide. If there is no edgeline, use the center line to guide you.
• Stay awake and alert. Do not drive if you feel tired.
• Watch carefully for highway signs as they are harder to see at night.
• Watch carefully for people and vehicles stopped on the side of the road.
Remember, your goal when night driving is to “Arrive Alive.”

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. Deaths from traffic crashes increased nine percent in 2016, with 950 deaths in 2016 alone.

There are 16 states, including Missouri, without a primary seat belt law. Considering that Missouri is 50th ranked in a safety report by the National Safety Council (NSC).

This fact has MoDOT out front pushing state lawmakers to approve a primary seatbelt law. Already 53 municipalities have passed their own primary seat belt laws.

Some of the suggestions for increased driving safety have been strengthening laws for child passengers, no-texting laws, seatbelt laws, and the use of red-light traffic cameras.

MoDOT has come out to describe distracted driving that includes texting to be an epidemic, with nearly 40,000 deaths a year across the nation. MoDOT bans its drivers from driving and texting, and some 250 companies across the state are committing to ban its employees from texting and driving while on duty. Recommendations from the task force are expected by the first of next year.

With Missouri being the 47th lowest in fuel taxes in the nation, the task force is looking to fund the increased safety measures with a potential fuel tax increase. Strong opposition is expected to block any fuel tax increase.

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 from being expunged from a person’s record if the person has another alcohol-related contact on record, or another alcohol-related action pending.

For more information, here is the link to the Department of Revenue to find out more: http://dor.mo.gov/faq/drivers/dwi.php. The DOR website offers a Q&A section that answers many questions you may have. Here are a few:

Can a DWI Court grant me a limited driving privilege when I participate in or graduate from its program, if I have more than one alcohol-related traffic offense on my record?
Yes. Section 302.309.3(9) now allows a DWI Court to grant a limited driving privilege to a participant or graduate of the program who may otherwise be ineligible for limited driving privilege. If you are granted a limited driving privilege by the DWI Court, the Department of Revenue will update your driving record to show the limited driving privilege.

I’ve heard that if my case is in a DWI Court, and I plead guilty to or am found guilty of a first-time driving while intoxicated offense, and my blood alcohol concentration is .15%, I would not be eligible for a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) for the alcohol-related traffic offense. Is this true?
No. In a county in which there is a DWI court, you may receive an SIS so long as:
•You are placed on probation for a minimum of two years; and
•You successfully complete the DWI court or court-ordered treatment program.
What will the DWI Court program consist of? The program will combine judicial supervision, drug testing, continuous alcohol monitoring, substance abuse traffic offender program compliance, and treatment.

Is there a fee to participate in a DWI court program? A DWI Court may assess you with any and all necessary costs of your participation.

When is the earliest I can be issued a limited driving privilege if I am a participant in or graduate of the program? You must complete a minimum of 45 days of participation in the program and be approved by the DWI Court.

Am I required to have an SR-22 insurance filing if a DWI Court has issued me a limited driving privilege?
Yes. You are required to maintain an SR-22 insurance filing for the duration of your limited driving privilege.

Am I required to have an ignition interlock device in my car if a DWI Court has issued me a limited driving privilege? Yes, if you have more than one alcohol-related enforcement contact.

If I have a first alcohol-related driving offense on my record that is over 10 years old and now I have a new one pending in court, can I have the old alcohol-related offense expunged from my record? No. The new law prohibits the Department of Revenue from expunging the alcohol-related driving offense from your record because you have another alcohol-related offense pending.