Contents

Q:

What do Missouri police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers on the highways in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case?

A:

The following is a list of symptoms in descending order of probability that the person observed is driving while intoxicated in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving cases. The list is based upon research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Administration:

  1. Turning with a wide radius
  2. Straddling center-of-lane marker
  3. "Appearing to be drunk"
  4. Almost striking object or vehicle
  5. Weaving
  6. Driving on other than designated highway
  7. Swerving
  8. Speed more than 10 mph below limit
  9. Stopping without cause in traffic lane
  10. Following too closely
  11. Drifting
  12. Tires on center or lane marker
  13. Braking erratically
  14. Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
  15. Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
  16. Slow response to traffic signals
  17. Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
  18. Turning abruptly or illegally
  19. Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
  20. Headlights off

Speeding, incidentally, is not a symptom of DUI / DWI; because of quicker judgment and reflexes, it may indicate sobriety.

Q:

If I'm stopped by a Missouri police officer and he asks me if I've been drinking, what should I say to avoid a DUI / DWI or other drunk driving arrest?

A:

You are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions when interrogated by a Missouri police officer. A polite "I would like to speak with an attorney before I answer any questions" is a good reply. On the other hand, admitting that you had one or two beers is not incriminating: it is not sufficient to cause intoxication -- and it may explain the odor of alcohol on the breath.

Q:

Do I have a right in Missouri to speak to an attorney when I'm stopped by a Missouri police officer and asked to take standardized field sobriety tests?

A:

No. However, you are not required by Missouri law to submit to field sobriety exercises. A polite "I would like to consult with an attorney before agreeing to take any field test" is a good answer.

Q:

What is a Missouri police officer looking for during the initial detention investigating DUI / DWI at the scene of the stop?

A:

The traditional symptoms of intoxication taught at the Missouri police academy are:

  1. Flushed face
  2. Red, watery, glassy and/or bloodshot eyes
  3. Odor of alcohol on breath
  4. Slurred speech
  5. Fumbling with wallet trying to get license
  6. Failure to comprehend the officer's questions
  7. Staggering when exiting vehicle
  8. Swaying/instability on feet
  9. Leaning on car for support
  10. Combative, argumentative, jovial or other "inappropriate" attitude
  11. Soiled, rumpled, disorderly clothing
  12. Stumbling while walking
  13. Disorientation as to time and place
  14. Inability to follow directions

Q:

Why did the officer make me follow a penlight with my eyes to the left and right?

A:

This is the "horizontal gaze nystagmus" test, a relatively recent development in Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving investigation. The officer attempts to estimate the angle at which the eye begins to jerk ("nystagmus" is medical jargon for a distinctive eye oscillation); if this occurs sooner than 45 degrees, it theoretically indicates a blood-alcohol concentration over .05%. The smoothness of the eye's tracking the penlight (or finger or pencil) is also a factor, as is the type of jerking when the eye is as far to the side as it can go.

This "standardized" field sobriety test has proven to be subject to a number of different problems, not the least of which is the non-medically trained officer's ability to recognize nystagmus and estimate the angle of onset. Because of this, and the fact that the test is not accepted by the medical community, it is not admissible as evidence in many states; it continues, however, to be widely used by law enforcement, and is admissible evidence in Missouri.

Q:

If I am placed under arrest in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case, should I agree to take a chemical test? What happens if I don't?

A:

The consequences of refusing to submit to a blood, urine, or breath test vary according to the state. Generally, there are two adverse results:

  1. Your driver's license will be revoked for one year. This may be true even if you are found not guilty of the criminal portion of the DUI / DWI or another drunk driving charge.
  2. The fact of refusal can be introduced into evidence as "consciousness of guilt". Of course, the defense is free to offer other reasons for the refusal.

Thus, the decision is one of weighing the likelihood of a high blood-alcohol reading against the consequences for refusing. You should request the opportunity to consult with a lawyer before making this decision. In Missouri, you must be allowed 20 minutes to call an attorney IF you are educated enough to know to ask to speak with an attorney when the Missouri police ask you to perform a chemical test.

Q:

Do I have a choice of which chemical test I will take in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case?

A:

No.

Q:

The officer never gave me a "Miranda" warning in my Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case: Can I get my case dismissed?

A:

No. The officer is supposed to give a 5th Amendment warning after he arrests you in a Missouri DUI / DWI or another drunk driving case. Often, however, he does not. The only consequence is that the prosecution cannot use any of your answers to questions asked by the police after the arrest.

Of more consequence in most cases is the failure to advise you of the state's "implied consent" law - that is, your legal obligation to take a chemical test and the results if you refuse. This can affect the suspension of your license.

Q:

Can I represent myself in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case? What can a lawyer do for me that I cannot do myself?

A:

You can represent yourself -- although it is not a good idea. "Drunk driving" is a very complex field with increasingly harsh consequences. There is a minefield of complicated procedural, evidentiary, constitutional, sentencing and administrative license issues.

What can a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving offense lawyer do for your case? Nothing (or worse) if he is not qualified in this highly specialized field -- no more than a family doctor could help with brain surgery. A qualified Missouri DUI / DWI attorney, however, can review the case for defects, suppress unlawfully obtained or inadmissible evidence, compel discovery of such things as calibration and maintenance records for the breath test machine, have blood samples independently analyzed, negotiate for a lesser charge or reduced sentence, obtain expert witnesses for trial, contest the administrative license suspension, etc.

Q:

How can I find a qualified drunk driving lawyer?

A:

The best way to find a good DUI/DWI lawyer is by reputation. There are a few attorneys who have national reputations; they, of course, are expensive. Thus, the best approach is to ask other attorneys in the jurisdiction: Who is the best in the area? If you do not know any attorneys, go to the local courthouse and ask bailiffs, clerks and public defenders: Who would THEY go to if arrested for drunk driving?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not a wise idea to obtain a referral from the local Bar association or referral service. There are rarely any qualifications required for an attorney to be on a referral list; he usually only has to ask to be placed on it. When you call, you are simply given the next name on that list.

An excellent indication of quality and experience is membership in the National College for DUI Defense.

Completion of that organization's intensive three-day annual summer seminar as conducted at Harvard Law School, Atlanta, Georgia, (Executive Director: Adriana Cameron, (404) 853-5080), is another clear sign of expertise.

When you meet with the attorney, make sure of three things:

  1. He has extensive experience in DUI/DWI litigation;
  2. He has a reputation for going to trial in appropriate cases, rather than just "copping out" his clients; and
  3. The financial terms of representation are clear.

Q:

How can I find a qualified Missouri DUI / DWI / drunk driving lawyer?

A:

The best way to find a good Missouri DUI / DWI / drunk driving lawyer is by reputation. There are a few attorneys who have national reputations; they, of course, are expensive. Thus, the best approach is to ask other attorneys in the jurisdiction: Who is the best in the area? If you do not know any attorneys, go to the local courthouse and ask bailiffs, clerks and public defenders: Who would THEY go to if arrested for drunk driving?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not a wise idea to obtain a referral from the local Bar association or referral service. There are rarely any qualifications required for an attorney to be on a referral list; he usually only has to ask to be placed on it. When you call, you are simply given the next name on that list.

An excellent indication of quality and experience is membership in the National College for DUI Defense.

Completion of that organization's intensive three-day annual summer seminar as conducted at Harvard Law School, http://www.ncdd.com/, is another clear sign of expertise.

When you meet with the attorney, make sure of four things:

  1. He has extensive experience in Missouri DUI / DWI litigation;
  2. He has a reputation for going to trial in appropriate cases, rather than just "copping out" his clients;
  3. He has extensive training; and,
  4. The financial terms of representation are clear.

Mr. Guilfoil has completed the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) / National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approved 20-hour course in the administration of standardized field sobriety tests and is one of only a few defense attorneys certified as an IACP / NHTSA-certified standardized field sobriety testing instructor in the State of Missouri.

He is a certified Operator of the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test machine. He has also completed numerous other courses on both the Intoxilyzer 5000 and Datamaster breath testing machines, which are the two breath testing machines used primarily by the police in Missouri.

He is one of only two Missouri defense attorneys to have completed the 24-hour Drug Evaluation and Classification Overview Course, which forms the basis of the IACP / NHTSA Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program. He has attended the 2003 and 2006 Summer Sessions of The National College of DUI Defense, presented at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also the 2006-2007 Missouri State Delegate to the National College for DUI Defense.

He is a published author for the Missouri Bar Association, having authored the “Standardized Field Sobriety Testing and Cross Examination of the Arresting Officer” chapter of their MOBARCLE “black book” series, which is a desk reference manual used by attorneys throughout the State of Missouri in DWI cases.

He has taught numerous courses on DWI and other topics to lawyers, police, and other law enforcement officials in Kansas and Missouri for the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, the Kansas Trial Lawyer’s Association, and Lorman. In March 2006, he presented a lecture to Missouri State Water Patrol in Clay County Circuit Court, Division 6, on proper Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Procedures. He has been quoted in the Missouri Lawyer’s Weekly and the St. Louis Daily Record on DWI-related issues.

Mr. Guilfoil is a member and the 2006-2007 Missouri State Delegate of The National College of DUI Defense, The American Association of DUI Trial Lawyers, the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and is a Missouri affiliate to the internet sites: http://www.drunkdrivingdefense.com/http://www.dui-dwi.com/, and http://www.dui-help.com/.

Practice Areas: Mr. Guilfoil emphasizes a thorough discovery and pretrial motions practice in DUI/DWI cases; traffic; and criminal law.

Awards: Certificate of Attendance, National College for DUI Defense, presented at Harvard Law School, Summer 2003 & 2006.Certificate of course completion as a Certified Operator of the Intoxilyzer 5000 Breath Testing Machine. Certificate of Completion of the NHTSA Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student Course. Certificate of Completion as an NHTSA-certified Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Instructor. Certificate of Completion of the 24-hour Drug Evaluation and Classification Overview Course, which forms the basis of the IACP / NHTSA Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program. Certificate of Completion of the BAC Datamaster Course sponsored by Mary McMurray.

Q:

What will it cost to get a Missouri DUI / DWI / drunk driving lawyer?

A:

This varies, of course, by the reputation and experience of the lawyer and by the geographic location. As with doctors, generally, the more skilled the attorney and the larger the city, the higher the fee. A related factor is the amount of time a lawyer devotes to his cases: the better lawyers take fewer clients, spending more hours on each.

The range of fees is huge. A general practitioner in a small community may charge only $300; a DUI specialist with a national reputation may charge up to $15,000 or more, depending on the facts. In addition, the fee may vary by such other factors as:

  1. Is the offense a misdemeanor or felony?
  2. The fee may or may not include trial or appeals.
  3. Administrative license suspension procedures may also be extra.
  4. The lawyer may charge a comprehensive fixed fee, or he may ask for a retainer in advance -- to be applied against hourly charges.
  5. Costs such as expert witness fees, independent blood analysis, service of subpoenas, etc., may be extra.

Whatever the fee quoted, you can ask for a written agreement. And make sure you understand all the terms.

Q:

What is a "rising BAC defense" in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case?

A:

It is unlawful to have an excessive blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of DRIVING -- not at the time of being TESTED. Since it takes between 30 minutes and 3 hours for alcohol to be absorbed into the system, an individual's BAC may continue to rise for some time after he is stopped and arrested.

Commonly, it is an hour or more after the stop when the blood, urine or breath test is given to the suspect. Assume that the result is .12%. If the suspect has continued to absorb alcohol since he was stopped, his BAC at the time he was driving may have been only .08%. In other words, the test result shows a blood-alcohol concentration above the legal limit -- but his actual BAC AT THE TIME OF DRIVING was below.

Q:

What is "mouth alcohol"?

A:

"Mouth alcohol" refers to the existence of any alcohol in the mouth or esophagus. If this is present during a breath test, then the results will be falsely high. This is because the breath testing machine assumes that the breath is from the lungs; for complex physiological reasons, its internal computer multiplies the amount of alcohol by 2100. Thus, even a tiny amount of alcohol breathed directly into the machine from the mouth or throat rather than from the lungs can have a significant impact.

Mouth alcohol can be caused in many ways. Belching, burping, hiccupping or vomiting within 20 minutes before taking the test can bring vapor from alcoholic beverages still in the stomach up into the mouth and throat. Taking a breath freshener can send a machine's reading way up (such products as Binaca and Listerine have alcohol in them); cough syrups and other products also contain alcohol. Dental bridges and dental caps can trap alcohol. Blood in the mouth from an injury is yet another source of inaccurate breath test results: breathed into the mouthpiece, any alcohol in the blood will be multiplied 2100 times. A chronic "reflux" condition from gastric distress or a hiatal hernia can cause elevated BAC readings.

Q:

What defenses are there in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case?

A:

Potential defenses in a given drunk driving case are almost limitless due to the complexities of the offense. Roughly speaking, however, the majority can be broken down into the following areas:

  1. Driving. Intoxication is not enough: the prosecution must also prove that the defendant was driving in a Missouri DUI / DWI or another drunk driving case. This may be difficult if, as in the case of accidents, there are no witnesses to his being the driver of the vehicle.
  2. Probable cause. Evidence in a criminal case will be suppressed if the officer did not have legal cause to (a) stop, (b) detain, and (c) arrest. Sobriety roadblocks present particularly complex issues.
  3. Miranda. Incriminating statements may be suppressed if warnings were not given at the appropriate time in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case.
  4. Implied consent warnings. If the officer did not advise you of the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test after a Missouri DUI / DWI or another drunk driving arrest, or gave it incorrectly, this may affect the admissibility of the test results -- as well as the driver's license suspension imposed by the Missouri motor vehicle department.
  5. "Under the influence". The officer's observations and opinions as to intoxication can be questioned -- the circumstances under which the field sobriety tests were given, for example, or the subjective (and predisposed) nature of what the officer considers as "failing". Also, witnesses can testify that you appeared to be sober.
  6. Blood-alcohol concentration. There exists a wide range of potential problems with blood, urine or breath testing in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case. "Non-specific" analysis, for example: most breath testing machines will register many chemical compounds found on the human breath as alcohol. And breath testing machines assume a 2100-to-1 ratio in converting alcohol in the breath into alcohol in the blood; in fact, this ratio varies widely from person to person (and within a person from one moment to another). Radio frequency interference can result in inaccurate readings. These and other defects in analysis can be brought out in cross-examination of the state's expert witness, and/or the defense can hire its own forensic chemist.
  7. Testing during the absorptive phase. The blood, breath or urine test will be unreliable in a Missouri DUI / DWI or other drunk driving case if done while you are still actively absorbing alcohol (it takes 30 minutes to three hours to complete absorption; this can be delayed if food is present in the stomach). Thus, drinking "one for the road" can cause inaccurate test results.
  8. Retrograde extrapolation. This refers to the requirement that the BAC be "related back" in time from the test to the driving. Again, a number of complex physiological problems are involved here.
  9. Regulation of blood-alcohol testing. The prosecution must prove that the blood, breath or urine test complied with state requirements as to calibration, maintenance, etc.
  10. License suspension hearings. A number of issues can be raised in the context of an administrative hearing before the state's Department of Revenue.

These Frequently Asked Questions in their original form were written by Lawrence Taylor, Esq. Mr. Taylor is an attorney in California. Visit his web site at http://www.duicenter.com/