The criminal prong of a DUI case is where it is decided whether or not the accused person will go to jail, is placed on probation, receive a fine, must attend classes or additionally whether or not they are allowed to continue driving.
There are actually two criminal offenses in Missouri which arise from the operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol—driving while intoxicated and driving with excessive blood-alcohol content. In any DUI case, the defendant may be charged with either or both of these offenses, so it is critical that a DUI defense attorney understands not only the particular issues and elements of each of these charges but also the differences to prepare a proper defense/prosecution.
In 2014, The Missouri General Assembly passed Senate Bill 491, which was followed closely by House Bill 1371. The provisions of both of these Bills took effect on January 1, 2017. The process for these revisions began in 2008, and spanned over three legislative sessions and concluded in 2014. These revisions represent the first major update of the Missouri Criminal Code since 1979. While the Criminal Code includes those statutes that pertain to all crimes and punishments, sentencing provisions, defenses, and principles of liability.
Hints of the obvious prejudice are found in many of the statutes and regulations. Some glaring indications include blood drawers escape liability; police can develop probable cause after the traffic stop (not the case in general criminal law), ignore national standards set for breath testing, support junk science, and generally strip potential DUI offenders of their rights. Suspected drug dealers in Missouri have far more rights than those individuals charged with DUI.
The Legislature has created new classes of DUI offenses depending upon the number of prior offenses (aggravated offender, a Class C felony, and chronic offender, a Class B felony). It also removed the 10-year limit on look back for enhancement purposes, removed the requirement that the judge must have been a lawyer for a prior plea or conviction to be used to make an enhancement, and has set minimum mandatory sentences for DUI offenders (starting at five days for the prior offender and going up to two years for the chronic offender) before they can be placed upon parole or probation. A good attorney should know the impact of these new statutes carefully on the accused individual. The ranges of punishments have also expanded. The Legislature made significant changes and in so doing made DUI a much more serious crime, especially for repeat offenders.
A good defense attorney knows that no defendant wants a “fair trial” and instead should seek the most biased trial possible. The previous statement may seem a bit odd and at odds with all we know and hold dear but hear me out. Do we want a fair trial where the burden is only by a preponderance of the evidence? Do we want a fair trial where our client can be compelled to take the stand and testify? It is all about reframing the old and obvious axioms. I once told a Judge: “Your honor my client does not want a fair trial. He wants the most biased trial possible and more importantly he is entitled to it.”