Tag Archives: St louis attorney

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.”

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 also carried over to enforcement of residential nuisance ordinances that are designed to keep housing safe, particularly with abandoned properties.

For example, one person who didn’t show up to court in a town near Kansas City had been arrested four times for a $450 ticket from 2015 for driving with no insurance and driving with a suspended license. She still hasn’t paid, and likely never will.

One judge was quoted as saying, “These people just continue to drive, except they don’t drive to court.”

One state senator tried to pass a bill to put some teeth back into law enforcement. His idea was that if a citizen fails to show up for a court date, a judge could order community service, issue a civil fine or put a hold on a driver’s license.

The editorial calls for Missouri to revisit its 2015 reforms with the goal of restoring some authority to its municipal courts to better find a balance between being overbearing on constituency and effectively punishing and enforcing our traffic laws. Because as the editorial states, “As of now, they’ve been effectively defanged.”

Crestwood Municipal Court Traffic, MIP and DWI attorneys

Crestwood, MO Traffic Court

Crestwood Traffic Lawyers

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

Crestwood Speeding Ticket Traffic Law Defense

Did you receive a Speeding ticket in Crestwood?
Our Crestwood traffic lawyers handle speeding ticket defense, where “no points” is the goal.

Crestwood MIP Lawyers

Did you receive a Minor in Possession ticket?
Our Crestwood MIP lawyers handle MIP defense, where the object is keeping your record clean and your driver license from being suspended or revoked.

Crestwood DWI Criminal Defense Attorneys

Did you receive a ticket for Driving While Intoxicated?
Our Crestwood 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 Crestwood traffic law attorneys start helping you today. Fill out the form on the side of this page.

This page contains Court information Links for Crestwood, Missouri.

Crestwood Municipal Court
1 Detjen Dr.
Crestwood, MO 63126

Phone: 314-729-4776

Fax: 314-729-4882

City of Crestwood, MO website.

For more information regarding your case visit municourt.net.

Judge
Hon. Jason Denney

Prosecuting Attorney
Dan O’Brien

Court Administrator
Stacey Fields

Office Houses

Monday-Friday 8:00am — 4:30pm

Court Dates and Docket Dates
Traffic: 1st Thursday of every month at 7:00 P.M. Trial Docket: 4th Thursday of the month.
General Ordinance Violations: 3rd Thursday of every month at 7:00 PM
For information on your ticket, click here.

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

Pay Traffic Tickets Online at https://www.ipaycourt.com/crestwood.

Mail payments in the form of check or money order only made payable to City of Crestwood to:

Crestwood Municipal Court
1 Detjen Dr.
Crestwood, MO 63126

Pay fines in person with cash, check, money order, MasterCard or Visa.

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 of running their cities. Instead, they are using their nuisance laws — with fines and fees for minor traffic violations and violations of local housing codes — to balance their budgets.

For example, in Mountain View, Colorado – a town of around 500 people — made $621,099 in citation revenue in 2013, almost half its annual budget. Several other small Colorado towns in 2015 made more than 30 percent of their revenue from issuing traffic tickets.

The Institute for Justice has filed lawsuits around the country taking on these practices. One lawsuit in Pagedale, Missouri (a town of 3,300), notes that some 1,336 tickets were issued to 896 individuals for housing violations between a seven-year period (January 2010-September 2017). That would mean 39 percent of the city’s adult population was cited.

Violations could include failure to “neatly” hang drapes or curtains; small tears in screen doors; hosting a barbecue in front yards; failure to keep beer away from the grill; etc. A consent decree was negotiated recently that settles the case. The settlement includes reforms on how the City identifies, tickets, and tries those accused of violating its municipal code.

Below is a list of several jurisdictions that heavily rely upon the use of fines and fees to raise revenues. Many of this are right here in Missouri. Statistics were gathered from a 2012 analysis of cities by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2017. Here’s an excellent article on that best explains and breaks down this trend towards taxation by ticket.

Dependent Cities using fines and fees to raise revenue
CITY STATE FINES AS PERCENT OF REVENUE

Saint Ann Missouri 30.40%
North Hills New York 25.60%
Clarkston Georgia 24.40%
Morrow Georgia 22.70%
Stone Mountain Georgia 22.10%
Doraville Georgia 20.60%
Cedarhurst New York 18.80%
Riverdale Georgie 18.70%
St. Johns Missouri 18.00%
Willow Springs Illinois 17.10%
Great Neck Plaza New York 15.80%
Riverdale Dark Maryland 15.70%
Sunset Utah 14.50%
Oakland Tennessee 14.50%
Bellafontaine Neighbors Missouri 14.40%
Millersville Tennessee 14%
College Park Maryland 13.60%
Ferguson Missouri 12.90%
Lake Dallas Texas 12.80%
Maryland Heights Missouri 12.60%
Snellville Georgia 12.40%
Gretna Louisiana 12.20%
Dardenne Prairie Missouri 11.90%
Laurel Maryland 11.80% $66,355 7.80% 29.50%
Los Fresnos Texas 11.50% $39,149 33.10% 1.20%
U.S. AVERAGE 1.40% $54,651 15.60% 78.30%

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 submit to a custodial arrest or retain a lawyer to argue a motion before the municipal judge to vacate the warrant. If the court does not grant the motion, the motorist, whose presence in court the judge allegedly demands, will be arrested and jailed. Jail, the plaintiffs assert, is the means by which the City attempts to coerce the motorist into paying the bond to secure his release. The complaint indicates that the City’s policy or custom involves additional steps that can ensnare motorists in repeated cycles of arrest, jailing, and pressure to pay a bond irrespective of their ability to do so. The plaintiffs maintain that since their poverty makes it difficult if not impossible to pay the bond, the City thereby violates, among other things, their due-process and equal-protection rights.”

The City of Maplewood moved to dismiss the claim under the grounds of sovereign immunity.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Maplewood enjoys no sovereign immunity against claims that its handling of traffic and vehicle violations is unconstitutional.

The ruling affirmed the district court’s ruling that the City is not immune from being sued under 42 U.S.C.1983 in a class action lawsuit that alleged the City’s policy of automatically issuing arrest warrants was unconstitutional. The practice involved issuing arrest warrants when a traffic ticket was not paid or when a person failed to appear in court.

In its holding, the court said that municipalities were not like States. Municipal courts do not enjoy a constitutionally protected immunity from suit under the Eleventh Amendment.

The court rejected other arguments the City made such as it was just maintaining a practice as an arm of the state; and that it was immune from suit because individuals identified as participating in the practices were personally immune from suit. The court explained that in the past a municipality has always been held liable for an unconstitutional practice even when no official was found to be personally liable for their actions under the custom or policy that was found unconstitutional.

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.

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.

OPEN CONTAINER LAWS

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 ordinances for open containers, the City of Maryville is one of the few that has passed its own. But Maryville does not have a primary seatbelt law.

PRIMARY SEATBELT LAWS

Missouri is one of only 15 states without a primary seatbelt law that would give law enforcement power to stop drivers for simply not wearing a seatbelt. Data suggests that 81 percent of the state’s residents use seatbelts, which is actually 7 percent lower than the national average.

DISTRACTED DRIVING

The state was also marked down for its laws on distracted driving, such as texting. Although the state bans texting for those 21 and younger, safety advocates say it needs to be broader. Word has it that the state may soon be expanding its anti-texting and driving laws to all drivers, not just those 21 and younger.

CAR SEATS

Missouri was also criticized for its age requirements for infants in rear-facing car seats. The American Academy of Pediatrics says infants and toddlers need to sit in a rear-facing seat until they are at least two-years-old, or until an infant meets the manufacturer’s height and weight restrictions. However, state law only requires rear facing seats until the infant is a year old and 20 pounds.

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.

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.