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: