Missouri teen texting ban is a failure

Jefferson City Criminal LawyerIn August 2009, reading, sending or writing text messages while driving became illegal for anyone under age 21. Section 304.820, RSMo

It’s easy to understand why messaging is dangerous while driving, but it’s hard to see why it’s more dangerous than sorting your CD collection or putting on lipstick in the rear-view mirror.

My thought at the time was that the only way to get convicted of this offense would be to confess to it. Otherwise, it’s difficult to prove you were texting (as opposed to starting a phone call or looking for an address or surfing the internet).

[Teenager tip: Don’t text and drive, but if you get stopped for texting, do not confess. DO NOT CONFESS.]

A recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch article noted that in the first five months the law was in effect, the Missouri Highway Patrol has issued just 13 tickets for the offense statewide, resulting in eight convictions. That might as well be ZERO.

The fact that the law has proven useless is not likely to stop another 20 states from joining the dozen states that already have the ban in place. Lawmakers–recognizing that the law is unenforceable–note that it raises awareness of the danger. It’s sort of like the Missouri seat belt law: basically unenforceable, but lawmakers get to be seen on the side of the angels.

Lest the bosses at the Capitol building give themselves too much credit for “raising awareness,” they should recognize that most of us wear seat belts because it’s safer, not because it’s illegal.

This may all be moot, however, since Congress is considering making the bans universal. If Missouri’s $200 fine does not stop this behavior, perhaps time in federal prison would scare us all straight. For our own good.


Come back with a warrant

Motorcycle Stunt Driving may soon be a crime in Missouri

Jefferson City Criminal Lawyer

Representative Jeff Roorda, A Democrat from the St. Louis area is back again with a bill to protect us from ourselves. His House Bill 1332 creates the crime of Motorcycle Stunt Driving.

Most new criminal laws are unnecessary and this one is especially so. But considering all the possible crimes we could commit, how cool would it be to have a conviction for Motorcycle Stunt Driving? To quote Will Smith’s character in the movie Independence Day: “I have got to get me one of these!”

To get one, you have to complete one or more of the following “dangerous stunts” while riding a motorcycle on a public road (presumably in front of a police officer):

  1. Standing on the seat, frame, or handlebars;
  2. Performing handstands on the seat, frame, or handlebars;
  3. Operating a motorcycle on one tire;
  4. Removing both hands from the handlebars

It’s kind of like taking your driver’s test, except there is no requirement that you do it very well.  (Keep in mind–however–it could be embarrassing to get a conviction for attempted Motorcycle Stunt Driving). Afterwards, you pay your fine and tell everyone you know that you have a conviction for motorcycle stunt driving.

You could become famous. There are web sites on how to break into the Hollywood Movie Stunt business.

If you’re really ambitious, move to Hollywood. When the movie producer wants to know your motorcycle stunt driving experience, you can whip out a certified copy and tell him, “Experience, hell, I’ve got a conviction.”

Even if you don’t want to get into the movies, a conviction for motorcycle stunt driving can only bolster your image. Everybody knows the ladies go for the bad boys. If you already have tattoos, then this is the next step. If you don’t have one, get your conviction record tattooed on your chest!


Come back with a warrant