Tag Archives: traffic attorney Missouri

Out-of-state DWI’s can be used to elevate a DWI to a felony

Interesting case here from the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District. It is a good example of how the court analyzes out of state DWI related convictions to determine whether they are the equivalent of a Missouri DWI conviction. This is important when it comes to using the out of state DWI convictions to charge an individual with a higher charge under the Chronic Offender statute.

In Missouri, four prior of intoxication-related traffic offenses (“IRTOs”) means the state can charge you with chronic offender status, thereby making it a felony a Class B felony.

The Prosecution admitted evidence of six previous occasions of IRTOs from Arkansas. Defendant appeals the admission of four of these previous IRTOs.

The court found two of the underlying charges to be distinguishable from the ruling in the case of State v. Coday, 496 S.W.3d 572 (Mo. App. 2016), which did not find IRTO convictions in Kansas, because they failed to meet Missouri’s evidentiary standards for a DWI. Kansas Law punishes persons operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. In order to use an IRTO out of Kansas, there must be evidence that the individual was convicted of operating a motor vehicle as required for a Missouri DWI.

In this case, two of the underlying charges were municipal ordinance violations. The record did not provide the wording of these municipal ordinance. The court held: “Moreover, “a judgment that, on its face, shows a guilty plea or a finding of guilt of an [IRTO] can be treated as a prior conviction for purposes of enhancement under § 577.023.” Craig, 287 S.W.3d at 681–82 . . . Stated another way, we cannot say here that it was unreasonable for the trial court to infer that a conviction for “driving while intoxicated” was a conviction for driving while intoxicated.”

While, two of the proffered charges may have been thrown out following the ruling in Coday as the statute provided for operate or be in physical control. The court already had 4 prior IRTOs so it declined to make a decision.

Bottom line, if you have previous DWIs in another state, make sure you present the wording of the statute or ordinance in order to exclude the IRTOs as not complying with Missouri Law.

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.

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

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Crestwood MIP Lawyers

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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.

Overturned DWI based on time between accident/blood drawn

A recent Missouri Western District Court of Appeals decision says a guilty verdict failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver was drunk at the time of the accident.
The appellate court essentially determined that too much time had transpired between an accident and when blood was drawn. That fact, plus that there was no evidence that the man had been driving his vehicle when it was driven off the road or evidence of when he became intoxicated led them to overturn the trial court.

The man was clearly drunk according to witnesses but they never observed him driving his vehicle or drinking. Witnesses drove him home and later went back to the scene and called the police. Police found empty beer cans in the vehicle and went to visit the man at his home. He clearly was intoxicated and could not stand to perform a walk and turn field sobriety test.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kansas City drivers be on the lookout for police

The trick to avoid speeding crack downs is to hear about them first before you hit the road.  So, drivers around Kansas City, this is for you.

For those Kansas City drivers on Interstate 29 and Barry Road area, slow it down and obey speed signs. Starting May 25, the Missouri Highway Patrol along with the Kansas City Police Department and the Platte County Sheriff’s Office started a strategic traffic enforcement effort targeting unsafe driving in this area.  Their hope is to curtail the number of crashes by going after every moving violation they can. According to news reports, the crack down on speeding and unsafe driving will last for several months. This area of Kansas City had seen a high number of crashes this last year.

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%

Court privacy ruling protects driver of borrowed rental car

Picture yourself driving a rental car that was rented by your friend or a family member. You are then pulled over by the police. The police want to search the vehicle. Do you let them? Do you even have a choice?

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week gave us clear answers. This Country’s high court said that people who borrow rental cars from family or friends are generally entitled to the same protections against police searches as the actual authorized driver who rented the vehicle.

The decision was unanimous. If a person is in lawful possession and control of the rental car they are deemed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car, even if the rental agreement doesn’t list them as an authorized driver. Therefore, the police will have to have probable cause of a crime committed or a warrant to search the car.

The argument by the current administration was that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy of an unauthorized driver in a borrowed car. Therefore, police could search it without the unauthorized driver’s consent. Attorneys who argued against the search stated that around 115 million car rentals occur each year in the United States. And if the government wins their argument, police would be given an incentive to pull over a rental car driver who commits a traffic violation because they would know they have the right to search it if the driver is not on the rental agreement.

The case involved a driver named Terrence Byrd who in 2014 was driving his fiancée’s rental car on a highway in Pennsylvania. A state trooper stopped him alleging he had committed a minor traffic violation. The troopers observed that Byrd was acting nervously during the stop and he went on to admit that he had a marijuana cigarette in the car. The officers then searched the vehicle, telling Byrd that they did not need his consent because his name was not on the authorization form. When they opened the trunk they discovered 2,500 bags of heroin and body armor. Byrd would later admit that he planned to sell the drugs for $7,000. Byrd received a 10-year prison sentence.

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.

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.

Rehabilitation specialists help extend your ability to drive

As you get older and into your Golden Years, your driving skills begin to deteriorate. Your ability to respond as quickly as you did compared to just 5 years before is noticeable not only to your friends and family but to you. Your confidence to drive at night is diminished. If this is a scenario for you or a loved one, then you may want to consider having a driving evaluation done by a certified driving rehabilitation specialist. This person can help you to adapt new technology to extend your driving years.

Because of new technology, your ability to drive into later years of your life has been extended. Some of these adaptive technologies are as simple as swivel seats for more convenient access or hand controls for a driver to safely operate a vehicle.

But each person and their skill and physical levels are different and require different forms of technology. The NHTSA recommends seeking the help of a driver rehabilitation specialist to help people choose the correct adaptive devices for their automobiles.

A rehabilitation specialist will take into consideration your future equipment needs based on your medical condition and the repetitive stress an adaptive aid may place on a particular muscle group.

Also expect a vision screening as well as testing for muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion; coordination and reaction time; judgment and decision-making abilities; and ability to drive with adaptive equipment. Once the evaluation is done, you should get a report with recommendations for you such as restrictions or requirements and a list of any vehicle requirements and modifications. You will likely also receive a recommendation for on-the-road training to practice using the new equipment and to learn safe driving habits.

To find a qualified driver rehabilitation specialist, you’ll find rehabilitation centers for each State listed on the Websites for the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED) and the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (AOTA). These associations maintain lists of qualified driver rehabilitation specialists in most states. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has put together helpful information called “Adapting Motor Vehicles for Older Drivers.” See their Website.