Tag Archives: Missouri DOR

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 the vehicle was. The officer then asked him to submit to a preliminary breath test to which the man consented and it showed he was positive for alcohol consumption. At this point, the officer read the Implied Consent law and then asked the Defendant to take his blood, to which he consented.  The blood test showed alcohol content above the legal limit. The Defendant’s attorney at trial filed a motion to suppress the Defendant’s statement but the trial court denied the motion to suppress the evidence.

The Eastern District, upon its review, affirmed the ruling and upheld the trial court’s decision to not suppress Defendant’s statements.  The Appellate Court held that because a reasonable person in Harris’s circumstances would not perceive himself to be subjected to a coercive custodial environment while restrained in a moving ambulance by paramedics for medical treatment following a motor vehicle accident, the Defendant was not in custody for purposes of suppressing his statement responding to the routine investigative questioning of the officer based on Miranda v. Arizona, 382 U.S. 435 (1966). 

Accordingly, the trial court did not err in denying Harris’s motion to suppress his statement. 

This is an interesting decision because although he was restrained by the EMS workers, he was not restrained by law enforcement.  And Defendant could not reasonably believe it was law enforcement doing the restraining.  Case law dictates that once he is informed he is being arrested or once he is restrained by law enforcement, a Defendant is being taken into custody and must have his Miranda rights read to him.  In this case, he was being restrained for medical purposes, not law enforcement investigative purposes, and he would not reasonably believe he was being restrained by law enforcement.

The opinion was by Judge Kurt S. Odenwald, with Judges  Philip M. Hess, P.J., and Lisa P. Page, J. concurring.  Attorney for Appellant was Carol D. Jansen, and Attorney for Respondent was Rebecca Richardson.

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 of Corrections determines that the offender has successfully completed the program.

However, when the Department of Corrections reported to the circuit court that the defendant would successfully complete the 120-day program and recommended release on probation, the court denied him release without a hearing

The defendant filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus in the appellate court, contending that the circuit court lacked authority to deny him probation, since it failed to hold a hearing on the matter within 120 days of defendant’s delivery to the Department of Corrections. Even if the 120 day deadline coincides with date of completion of the program there still needs to be a hearing. “An offender cannot be stripped of his right to a hearing on his probation determination simply because he completed the program within the time limits but on the last day of such time limits.”

The appellate court issued a writ in Mandamus, holding that (1) The circuit court lacked authority to deny the defendant probation without first holding a hearing on the matter. And,

(2) Because the court failed to hold a hearing on the matter within 120 days of defendant’s

delivery to the Department of Corrections, the court has exhausted its authority.

So a permanent writ in mandamus was issued directing the circuit court to rescind its order denying the defendant release on probation, and to enter an order releasing him on probation on appropriate conditions.

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. You can find out why you are suspended, revoked, or denied from the letter(s) you received or by contacting the Department of Revenue.

Can I check my driver record?
Yes. Call (573) 526-2407 to find out about non-personal information such as traffic tickets and suspension/revocation-related information. You may also get a copy of your driver record.

How can I get my driving privilege reinstated?
Your specific reinstatement requirements are based on the type of suspension, revocation, or denial action(s) on your driver record. For more information, visit the License Reinstatement Requirements page of the DOR website. You can also contact the DOR staff by e-mail to find out what your reinstatement requirements are.

Am I eligible for a Restricted Driving Privilege (RDP)?
The Department only issues Restricted Driving Privileges (RDP) for first-time alcohol point suspensions. For information about the RDP, visit the Restricted Driving Privilege (RDP) page of the DOR website

Am I eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP)?
If you cannot get your driver license back, but you need to drive for employment or other important matters, you may apply for a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP). You may get an LDP unless you have certain convictions or losses of license on your driver record. Some convictions or loss of license are so serious that an LDP may not be granted. Visit the Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) page of the DOR website for reasons why you may not be eligible for an LDP. Please note: A person cannot obtain an LDP to drive a commercial motor vehicle.

Where and how do I apply for a Limited Driving Privilege (LDP)?
For information about the Limited Driving Privilege (LDP), visit the Limited Driving Privilege (LDP) page of the DOR website. In some situations, you may have to petition the Court in the County in which you live.

Where do I appeal the suspension, revocation, or denial of my driver license?
You may appeal a driver license suspension, revocation, or denial in the circuit court of the county where you live within 30 days after the notice of suspension, revocation, or denial is issued.

Visit the Department of Revenue website for more information: