DWI – ignition interlock lets drivers back behind the wheel

jefferson city dwi lawyerMost of the new laws from the Missouri legislature this year went into effect this last week, but there are a few changes that go into effect at other times. The rules for obtaining a limited driving privilege changed effective July 1, 2013. For the better, I think. (see earlier post here)

  • In the past, the law prevented anyone from getting more than one limited driving privilege permit within a five year period. There is now no limitation to the number of limited privileges one may obtain. Section 302.309.3(6). Eligible persons may receive a limited driving privilege if their license is revoked for failure to submit to a chemical test (usually a breath test), but they must complete the first 90 days of the revocation and obtain a certified ignition interlock device.
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  • Persons under a five or ten year license denial may now petition the court for a limited driving privilege without a waiting period. The court must grant a limited driving privilege to any person who otherwise is eligible, has filed proof of installation of a certified ignition interlock device, and has had no alcohol-related enforcement contacts since the contact that resulted in the license denial. [Note that any person with a felony DWI conviction will still be denied a limited privilege under section 302’309.3(6)(b), unless issued by the DWI court.]
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There are also some other changes coming on March 3, 2014. One of those will allow first time DWI offenders a restricted driving privilege so they may drive to work [or to school, or to attend a SATOP program] during the 30 day suspension period.  Currently, they are not permitted to drive at all during that 30 days. Drivers will have to install an ignition interlock device to take advantage of this provision.

 

Come back with a warrant

New Missouri DWI law would be harshest ever.

Jefferson City Criminal LawyerThe rage of DWI-related pressure groups is being vented through a proposed Missouri law sponsored by Joplin area state Rep. Brian Stevenson. Stevenson really takes off the gloves with this legislation–HB 1695–and removes any pretense that the “punishment should fit the crime.” HB 1695 creates new crimes such as: first offense driving over a .15% blood alcohol level or refusing to take a breath test.

MIssouri DWI lawInstead of offering treatment options that are given to drug offenders, the new law piles on more restrictions to keep offenders from driving at all.

Even if the offender never drinks and drives again, the license revocations are so lengthy, many drivers must choose between obeying the law and losing their jobs. Eventually they end up in jail or prison–not because they hurt or even endangered others–but because they disobeyed their government to make a living.

It’s not all bad. Some provisions of the law make it more likely that convictions are reported fairly and reliably throughout the state. One is that it forces all municipal judges to take remedial training in Missouri’s DWI laws.

One very sad provision of the new law eliminates what many consider a reasonable and merciful provision of our current law. It’s the one that permits a person who gets a first and ONLY DWI conviction to have their record expunged by the court if they go ten full years without any new alcohol-related contact or conviction.

This is a provision that ought to be extended to many misdemeanor crimes: make one small mistake and if you behave for ten years, we’ll forgive and forget. Instead, we are going the other way.

Perhaps our legislature will see this bill as overreaching and fundamentally unfair. We all know friends or family members who have had an alcohol offense. We know most of them are not repeat offenders and are good neighbors–not the sort that make good political cannon fodder.

If politicians want to grandstand, there are easier targets. For example, sex offenders. The public seems not to mind what we do to them, even after they have paid for their crimes. Certainly there are many more stupid demands they might make of sex offenders, things even more ridiculous than having to hide inside their homes on Halloween.

See New law makes sex offenders hunker down for Halloween


Come back with a warrant


Missouri bill would criminalize refusal to take breath test

People often hear that they should refuse to take the breath test if they are arrested for a DWI. Unfortunately–in the case of a simple first offense DWI–that belief will frequently result in worse results than if a person is convicted of the DWI. Refusal to blow will probably result in a one year revocation of that person’s Missouri drivers license.

A bill in the Missouri legislature takes a “refusal” to blow to a new level. SB 780, sponsored by Sen Matt Bartle, makes refusing to submit to chemical testing a separate crime, equivalent to a first-time DWI

In view of the heavy administrative penalty (one year revocation) already on the books, I am not certain how useful this provision will be. It creates a bizarre situation with regard to other statutes that still remain in effect. Section 577.041 requires the arresting officer to allow a DWI suspect twenty minutes in which to contact an attorney about whether to take the breath test.

It seems odd to specifically provide extra time for a suspect to call a lawyer to ask if he should commit a crime. This places the attorney in a situation of having to violate ethical rules if he makes any specific recommendation. I can imagine getting a phone call at 3:00 am:

Me: What can I do for you?

Suspect: I’m at the police station and I want to know if I should take the breath test? I got arrested for DWI.

Me: You are asking me if you should commit another crime?

Suspect: The cop said I could call a lawyer to see if I should blow.

Me: OK, here’s the deal. I can’t advise you to commit a crime. I could advise you to obey the law and take the test, but I can’t do do that either, because it could make your situation worse. However–wink, wink–If you do take the test, X will happen. If you don’t, Y will happen. Good luck.

This bill is hardly necessary, and–as the above shows–creates difficulties within the existing law.  It needs to fail.


Free the MoPed! A call to the legislature

Here’s a proposal for the legislature. Everybody knows someone who has had their driver’s license suspended or revoked for poor driving habits (too many points) or for a DWI. Some people lose their license for reasons that have nothing to do with actual safety (like driving with an expired license or having past due child support). It gets pretty harsh when someone gets a second DWI: Five years without a license.

This is a hardship on families and employers as well as the offender. Keep in mind that these guys are already being punished. Such a second offense always means jail time.

The state agrees that such revocations are not punishment for crime, but are merely “administrative.”

If the legislature is chiefly concerned with safety–and they ought to be–then why don’t they legalize the driving of “mopeds” or motorized bicycles without a license.

As it now stands, these gas-saving gadgets require no insurance, no helmets, no registration.

These are defined as:

Any two-wheeled or three-wheeled device having an automatic transmission and a motor with a cylinder capacity of not more than fifty (50) cubic centimeters, which produces less than three (3) gross brake horsepower, and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than thirty (30) miles per hour on level ground.

For obvious reasons you can’t drive them on the interstate highways. Just as obviously, the reason for the general laxity is that any danger involved is about the same as riding a bicycle. In fact, the rules of the road are the basically same for both.

The difference is that you have to have a driver’s license to ride one; and if your license is suspended or revoked, well, you don’t have a license, so  you can’t ride.

Now since these things can’t go any faster than a bicycle; and since they aren’t likely to hurt anyone other the rider himself, a law allowing unlicensed moped use for adults–and without child passengers–would seem a merciful, harmless concession to someone trying to get to a job every day. How about it?


 

 

 

One quick question for my readers: