Tag Archives: traffic attorney Clayton Missouri

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, and fines.

Additionally, the bill calls for officers to use a consent search policy and requires information to be gathered from every vehicle stop. The data collected will then be analyzed by the attorney general.

The consent search would require that an officer prior to requesting a search would have to clearly state, either orally or in writing, in a language the person being questioned clearly understands that their consent must be voluntary.

Next, an officer would have to get recorded audio or video or written consent from the person who was stopped.

Officers will be expected to collect 11 pieces of information that include a reason for the stop, whether a search was conducted, and whether a warning or citation was issued.

Then by March 1st of each year, the agency must submit its report to the attorney general who will analyze the data and submit a report to the state legislature by June 1st of each year.

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 tips from the DOR for safe winter driving:
*In winter, clean all snow and ice off your windows, headlights, and taillights.
*Be sure your windshield wipers and defroster are working.
*No matter how far you are going to drive, never start driving until all snow and ice is off your windows.
*Check your tires. Your vehicle should have tires that are rated for driving in snow. If you do not have tires that are rated for driving in snow, you should have chains ready to put on your tires during bad weather. But even if you have “snow” tires or chains, you cannot drive safely on snow or ice at normal speeds. If there is snow or ice on the road, slow down and do not use your vehicle’s cruise control system.
*When starting on snow or ice, start slowly and smoothly.
*If your tires start to spin, try clearing a path by driving backwards and forwards a few times.
*If that does not help, spread some abrasive material like salt, sand, or cat box litter around your wheels.
*NEVER let anyone stand in line with your wheels. Your wheels may throw up gravel or ice and cause an injury.
*Once you have started, try to get the feel of the road. Gently brake while driving to see how slippery the road is and then adjust your speed for the road conditions.
*Important Note: It will take longer to stop your vehicle when driving on snow or ice. So be sure to leave a safe distance, about 8 to 10 seconds, between your vehicle and any vehicle ahead of you.
*When you want to slow down or stop, apply the brakes gently and smoothly. Never slam on your brakes — this may cause you to skid. On very slippery surfaces, pump the brakes by gently pushing down and letting up on them several times. If your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock brake system, refer to your owner’s manual for proper braking techniques in special situations.
*Remember that bridges and overpasses will freeze and become slippery before other parts of the road, and be aware that even on cleared roads a few ice patches may still exist.
*If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, DO NOT use the four-wheel drive on ice. Four-wheel drive vehicles can easily overturn on ice. If you hit an icy patch in four-wheel drive, take your foot off the accelerator.

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 it was primarily designed to produce revenue for the city that enacted the ordinance.

The bottom line, thankfully, is that cities do have statewide oversight when it comes to regulating traffic within their boundaries. This helps us find that balance between public safety versus excessive regulations and punishment.

The statute is below if you want to learn more:

304.010. Definitions — maximum speed limits — cities, towns, villages, certain counties, may set speed limit, how set — slower speeds set, when — violations, penalty. — 1. As used in this section, the following terms mean:
(1) “Expressway”, a divided highway of at least ten miles in length with four or more lanes which is not part of the federal interstate system of highways which has crossovers or accesses from streets, roads or other highways at the same grade level as such divided highway;
(2) “Freeway”, a limited access divided highway of at least ten miles in length with four or more lanes which is not part of the federal interstate system of highways which does not have any crossovers or accesses from streets, roads or other highways at the same grade level as such divided highway within such ten miles of divided highway;
(3) “Rural interstate”, that part of the federal interstate highway system that is not located in an urban area;
(4) “Urbanized area”, an area of fifty thousand population at a density at or greater than one thousand persons per square mile.
2. Except as otherwise provided in this section, the uniform maximum speed limits are and no vehicle shall be operated in excess of the speed limits established pursuant to this section:

(1) Upon the rural interstates and freeways of this state, seventy miles per hour;
(2) Upon the rural expressways of this state, sixty-five miles per hour;
(3) Upon the interstate highways, freeways or expressways within the urbanized areas of this state, sixty miles per hour;
(4) All other roads and highways in this state not located in an urbanized area and not provided for in subdivisions (1) to (3) of this subsection, sixty miles per hour;
(5) All other roads provided for in subdivision (4) of this subsection shall not include any state two-lane road which is identified by letter. Such lettered roads shall not exceed fifty-five miles per hour unless set at a higher speed as established by the department of transportation, except that no speed limit shall be set higher than sixty miles per hour;
(6) For the purposes of enforcing the speed limit laws of this state, it is a rebuttable presumption that the posted speed limit is the legal speed limit.

3. On any state road or highway where the speed limit is not set pursuant to a local ordinance, the highways and transportation commission may set a speed limit higher or lower than the uniform maximum speed limit provided in subsection 2 of this section, if a higher or lower speed limit is recommended by the department of transportation. The department of public safety, where it believes for safety reasons, or to expedite the flow of traffic a higher or lower speed limit is warranted, may request the department of transportation to raise or lower such speed limit, except that no speed limit shall be set higher than seventy miles per hour.
4. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 304.120 or any other provision of law to the contrary, cities, towns and villages may regulate the speed of vehicles on state roads and highways within such cities’, towns’ or villages’ corporate limits by ordinance with the approval of the state highways and transportation commission. Any reduction of speed in cities, towns or villages shall be designed to expedite the flow of traffic on such state roads and highways to the extent consistent with public safety. The commission may declare any ordinance void if it finds that such ordinance is:
(1) Not primarily designed to expedite traffic flow; and
(2) Primarily designed to produce revenue for the city, town or village which enacted such ordinance.
If an ordinance is declared void, the city, town or village shall have any future proposed ordinance approved by the highways and transportation commission before such ordinance may take effect.
5. The county commission of any county of the second, third or fourth classification may set the speed limit or the weight limit or both the speed limit and the weight limit on roads or bridges on any county, township or road district road in the county and, with the approval of the state highways and transportation commission, on any state road or highway not within the limits of any incorporated city, town or village, lower than the uniform maximum speed limit as provided in subsection 2 of this section where the condition of the road or the nature of the area requires a lower speed. The maximum speed limit set by the county commission of any county of the second, third, or fourth classification for any road under the commission’s jurisdiction shall not exceed fifty-five miles per hour if such road is properly marked by signs indicating such speed limit. If the county commission does not mark the roads with signs indicating the speed limit, the speed limit shall be fifty miles per hour. The commission shall send copies of any order establishing a speed limit or weight limit on roads and bridges on a county, township or road district road in the county to the chief engineer of the state department of transportation, the superintendent of the state highway patrol and to any township or road district maintaining roads in the county. After the roads have been properly marked by signs indicating the speed limits and weight limits set by the county commission, the speed limits and weight limits shall be of the same effect as the speed limits provided for in subsection 1 of this section and shall be enforced by the state highway patrol and the county sheriff as if such speed limits and weight limits were established by state law.
6. The county commission of any county of the second, third, or fourth classification may by ordinance set a countywide speed limit on roads within unincorporated areas of any county, township, or road district in the county and may establish reasonable speed regulations for motor vehicles within the limit of such county. No person who is not a resident of such county and who has not been within the limits thereof for a continuous period of more than forty-eight hours shall be convicted of a violation of such ordinances, unless it is shown by competent evidence that there was posted at the place where the boundary of such county road enters the county a sign displaying in black letters not less than four inches high and one inch wide on a white background the speed fixed by such county so that such signs may be clearly seen by operators and drivers from their vehicles upon entering such county. The commission shall send copies of any order establishing a countywide speed limit on a county, township, or road district road in the county to the chief engineer of the Missouri department of transportation, the superintendent of the state highway patrol, and to any township or road district maintaining roads in the county. After the boundaries of the county roads entering the county have been properly marked by signs indicating the speed limits set by the county commission, the speed limits shall be of the same effect as the speed limits provided for in subsection 1 of this section and shall be enforced by the state highway patrol and the county sheriff as if such speed limits were established by state law.
7. All road signs indicating speed limits or weight limits shall be uniform in size, shape, lettering and coloring and shall conform to standards established by the department of transportation.
8. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to alter any speed limit set below fifty-five miles per hour by any ordinance of any county, city, town or village of the state adopted before March 13, 1996.
9. The speed limits established pursuant to this section shall not apply to the operation of any emergency vehicle as defined in section 304.022.
10. A violation of the provisions of this section shall not be construed to relieve the parties in any civil action on any claim or counterclaim from the burden of proving negligence or contributory negligence as the proximate cause of any accident or as the defense to a negligence action.
11. Any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a class C misdemeanor, unless such person was exceeding the posted speed limit by twenty miles per hour or more then it is a class B misdemeanor.

 

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 must first commit another violation before they get a citation.

The law, however, is different for commercial motor vehicle driving. Those drivers are prohibited to use hand-held cell phones to text or make a call.

The consensus among the legal community is unclear whether municipals have the power to pass more restrictive laws on texting. In St. Louis County, the City of Kirkwood has adopted a more stringent ordinance but most other cities have not because attorneys disagree about the issue.

The Columbia ban was a recommendation from a 2016 Mayor’s Task Force on Pedestrian Safety.

Distracted driving, which includes texting while driving, is a common reason for deadly or injurious traffic crashes in Columbia.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, since the start of 2017, there were 125 vehicle crashes in related to distracted driving, a category that includes driving and texting.  Of those, 24 of the crashes involved injuries, with five injuries disabling.

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 judge ruled that the arresting officer lacked probable cause to arrest Srader for an alcohol-related traffic offense.  The Director of Revenue appealed to the court of appeals.

The appellate court reversed and remanded the circuit court’s decision. It held that the evidence which the circuit court found credible also established multiple indicia of intoxication. And these multiple indicia of intoxication was enough to establish probable cause for the arrest.  For example, the officer had seen Srader driving erratically.  And after the stop, the officer stated that Srader’s eyes were watery, glassy, and bloodshot and his speech was slurred.  Furthermore, the officer testified that Srader made inconsistent and suspicious statements about where he was coming from and if he had had anything to drink. Srader also voluntarily submitted to a breath test which showed that alcohol was present.

The court said that these facts when taken together was enough to show to the senses of a reasonably prudent person that Srader had been driving while intoxicated.  The circuit court had erred by concluding that probable cause was lacking in the arrest.

The opinion was written by Judge Alok Ahuja. The other two judges were Cynthia L. Martin and Lisa White Hardwick.  Attorney for the appellant was Rachel M. Jones. Theodore D. Barnes was attorney for respondent.

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 a longer time.  Some will even straddle the center line between the two lanes to prevent such attempts.

But the reality is that the passersbys are following proper protocol while the lane straddlers are in the wrong.  Zipper merging is the most efficient way for traffic to come together when the number of lanes has been reduced.

This early merging behavior often leads to dangerous lane switching, serious crashes and even road rage.

Experts state the benefits of zipper merging is that research shows it decreases the possibility of dangerous lane switching and other accidents that lead to road rage.  Don’t worry about being nice at the first sight of a construction zone.  Stay in your current lane up to the point of merging. Then alternate with other drivers to safely ease into the remaining open lane.

So the bottom line is that courtesy driving in the context of lane closures is to proceed to the end of the lane where you take turns merging into the open lane.  This will lead to less accidents and road rage.

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 Revenue had appealed from the judgment of the trial court reinstating the driving privileges of Justin Scott Hickenbotham.  The Director argued on appeal that the trial court erred in reinstating the driver’s driving privileges because the court erred in excluding from evidence the breath test result showing Driver’s blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit.

The opinion was written by Judges Sherri B. Sullivan and Roy L. Richter.  Judge Colleen Dolan concurred.  Rachel Jones was the attorney for Appellant.  Attorneys for Respondent were Chastidy Dillon-Amelung and John F. Newsham.  The case was Justin Scott Hickenbotham v. Department of Revenue.

The Court referenced several previous cases in its analysis and stated the following: “Sellenriek’s and Kern’s reasoning that the only relevant evidence is that which demonstrates compliance when the breath test was administered is still good law and applies in this case. See Harrell, 488 S.W.3d at 208. As with the maintenance check provision, implicit in 19 CSR 25-30.051(4) is that a breath analyzer simulator certified at the time of the relevant maintenance check is capable of accurately calibrating the breath analyzer. Carey v. Dir. of Rev., —- S.W.3d —- (Mo. App. E.D. March 28, 2017); see Sellenriek, 826 S.W.2d at 340. Nothing in the regulations suggests the accuracy of the simulator at the time of the maintenance check is dependent on the certification of the simulator in prior or subsequent years. See Sellenriek, 826 S.W.2d at 340; Harrell, 488 S.W.3d at 208. “The Director need not prove the existence of certifications before the one in effect at the time of the relevant maintenance check in order to comply with 19 CSR 25-30.051(4).” Carey, —- S.W.3d —-. Instead, a foundation for the admission of the breath test result is laid when the Director presents evidence the simulator was certified at the time of the relevant maintenance check. Harrell, 488 S.W.3d at 208.

“Evidence of whether the simulator was properly certified in prior or subsequent years

goes to the weight of the breath test result, not its admissibility. See Kern, 936 S.W.2d at 862. Furthermore, Driver’s interpretation of 19 CSR 25-30.051(4) would mean a simulator not certified in 2013 or any subsequent year is effectively unusable and fails to account for simulators brought into use any time after 2013, an illogical reading leading to irrational results.”

The Court went on to say that in the present case: “The Director laid a sufficient foundation for admission of the result of the breath test administered in 2015 by submitting the 2015 simulator certification. The Director’s point on appeal is granted. Because the court did not make a finding as to whether Trooper Ganime had probable cause to arrest Driver, the cause is remanded for additional findings by the trial court.”

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 traffic cases in Ferguson last year, 1,736, had dropped 85 percent from two years ago, and non-traffic cases were down a similar percentage.  Fergusons court revenue plummeted from more than $2 million two years ago to just $579,000 this last year.  Ferguson had been under fire from the U.S. Department of Justice in the aftermath of Michael Brown. 

Ferguson’s municipal court system had been the target of a scathing U.S. Department of Justice report as well as intense scrutiny from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other media.  Local attorneys can tell you that the long lines out the door are no longer the case.

Other cities in North County known for their intense speed traps along the I-70 corridor have also seen a drop in revenue, according to the court report.

St. Ann, for example, saw revenue drop nearly a million dollars from $2.6 million two years ago to $1.7 million this last year. Tickets issued fell during that same time period from over 25,000 to 9,880. 

Florissant municipal court revenue went from $2.6 million to $1.7 million. Normandy fell from $1.4 million to slightly over $788,000.  Pine Lawn dropped from $2,2 million to $652,925.  Berkeley was down from $1.2 million to $378,327.

Clayton, MO Traffic Court

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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.

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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.