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Missouri Motor Vehicle Accidents, Criminal Defense and Family Law Blog

State divided on issue of checkpoints to deter drunk driving

Sobriety checkpoints are frequently utilized by law enforcement agencies. Police officers use the checkpoints as a means to reduce drunk driving by identifying those who are operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. However, a debate about the checkpoints has arisen in the Missouri legislature.

The Missouri State House of Representatives had previously introduced a spending plan that would have stopped state funding of sobriety checkpoints. The provision was included because concerns had been raised that such checkpoints may violate motorists' rights. However, the State Senate recently removed the verbiage that eliminated state funding.

Missouri man facing drug charges after search

Police officers in Missouri and throughout the country often conduct searches as part of an investigation when there is suspicion of unlawful behavior. There are guidelines in place for the law enforcement agencies to ensure that these searches are conducted appropriately. A recent search in Monroe County resulted in the arrest of a Madison man for drug charges.

On April 12, officers from various agencies executed a search warrant at the man's home, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff worked in conjunction with the Missouri Highway Patrol and the East Central Drug Task Force to conduct the search. Reports show that several people were held at the scene without incident during the search.

Distracted driving could result in personal injury cases

Texting while driving has become an increasingly serious problem in Missouri and elsewhere around the country. Police say that the behavior is deadly and often leads to fatal accidents. Reports show that personal injury and fatalities result from car crashes when drivers fail to put down their phones.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, texting while driving is defined as distracted driving for adults over the age of 21. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to text while driving. Other actions, such as adjusting the radio, applying makeup or reaching for food are also categorized as distracted driving. However, the behavior must be observed by police and be determined as a hazard on the roads.

4 arrested on drug charges after bust near school

Drug-free zones were established in Missouri and around the country in an effort to minimize the risk to children from being exposed to drug-related activities. If someone is convicted of drug charges in a drug-free zone, that person is likely to face more serious consequences for the same activity than if it had occurred elsewhere. A recent operation in Monroe County has resulted in the arrest of four men on a variety of charges.

Several agencies, including the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Monroe County Sheriff's Department, conducted a drug bust only 600 feet from a school. Police officers allegedly found the four men in a detached building on the property of one of the men. Among the items discovered were purportedly 16 pounds of marijuana, four grams of THC, two glass smoking devices and $30,000 in cash.

3 charged with DUI felonies likely focused on criminal defense

According to Missouri prosecutors, three people have been charged with the felonies of persistent driving while under the influence. The arrests were made in South St. Louis County and Kirkwood over the last several months. While any driving while intoxicated charge is considered serious, a persistent DUI charge carries greater potential consequences, should someone be convicted. Any person facing such a charge will want to mount a strong criminal defense.

A 32-year-old woman was arrested after allegedly leaving the scene of an accident. The woman reportedly crashed into a lane-divider sign and a tree before driving away. Police had stopped the woman for apparently driving drunk, but matched her license plate to the one left earlier at the crash site. The officer claimed that he smelled alcohol on the driver's breath. Records show that she had been previously been convicted of DWI in 2011 and 2012.

Crash may lead to personal injury case against driver's estate

Driving the wrong way on a road in Missouri or elsewhere around the country is a dangerous behavior. Often, this action may result in accidents, causing both property damage and personal injury. When a fatality occurs as a result of wrong-way driving, the victim's surviving family members may choose to file a wrongful death case. Recently, a head-on collision in South St. Louis County claimed the lives of two people.

The accident occurred on Interstate 55 in the early morning of Wednesday, March 22, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. A car was traveling northbound when an SUV, traveling the wrong way in the lane, crashed head-on into it. The accident caused the northbound lanes of the interstate to be closed for approximately one hour.

Research shows teens are wired to engage in risky driving behaviors

It may not come as a surprise that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 have a significantly higher risk for being in a car accident than any other age group. However, recent research indicates that inexperience behind the wheel may not be the only reason behind the number of accidents across Missouri that involve adolescents and young adults.

Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology at Temple University, says that adolescents are wired to seek excitement, while the part of the brain that provides self regulation does not reach maturity until people are in their mid 20s. The peak of the desire for risk taking generally occurs at age 19. The research, published in Developmental Science, involved more than 5000 individuals in 11 separate countries shows that teens desire excitement and engage in risk taking behaviors before the brain's ability to regulate risk develops sufficiently to mitigate risks. While it is possible in individual cases for parents to help to guide their children to reduce risks, accidents continue to devastate families.

The evidentiary issues of police body camera footage

Around the country, law enforcement agencies are adopting body camera technology. The purpose of this effort has been to gather better evidence, to encourage greater transparency and for accountability. However, as body cameras have become more prevalent, glaring issues with the technology have become apparent.

Any new technology has hiccups, but body camera evidence has raised more questions than answers. It is especially troublesome when relied upon as evidence in a criminal case. The Columbia Police Department is one of the police departments to arm their officers with body cameras. 

Is recent drug arrest in Hannibal a case in point?

In our last entry, we explored the issue of police traffic stops and how they so often end up leading to serious criminal charges. As we noted, such cases are of events. What such actions should trigger, though, are questions about whether police overstepped their authority and acted in violation of the Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure.

What's at stake is not just the protection of individual rights of Missouri residents, but the defense of the Constitution.

Officer's right to search not a given in a traffic stop

It is not at all unusual to see the following lead in news stories these days. "A traffic stop led to the arrest of a suspect on drug charges." Whether you live in Missouri or some other state, it is not uncommon for authorities to stop a driver and then leverage the stop into an investigation that results in formal charges.

Even though it may seem to be standard practice, it's important for individuals to know that police do not automatically have the right to conduct a search of your vehicle during a stop. If one is conducted and it does lead to you facing serious charges, the legality of the search deserves to be challenged. If police violated the rules of evidence in some way it can be argued that the fruits of the search aren't admissible in court.