St. Louis DWI Lawyer
An Introduction to the Missouri DWI Process
If you are pulled over under suspicion of DWI in the state of Missouri you need to be aware of the potential course of action that may take place and the consequences of those actions. There is a fine line between being cooperative with the officer at the scene and giving up your rights under the law. Being too cooperative may give the officer the advantage they need in order to make an arrest at the scene and then proceed with the prosecution of criminal charges against you.
It is no secret that most people are unaware of what may take place during a routine DWI stop. Just like any other situation that there is the possibility you may be arrested, you have certain rights granted to you under the law. This article is designed to give a general overview of what might happen to you in a typical DWI stop but cannot possibly cover this type of event as it pertains to Missouri DWI enforcement in its entirety.
First of all you never want to be physically or verbally abusive with the arresting officer in any way; that will only further arouse their suspicion and lead to a greater possibility of arrest and additional charges being placed against you. Always be polite and respectful no matter how wrong you feel the officer was to pull you over in the first place.
If the arresting officer feels that something is not right with the way you are driving they will immediately start to look for more clues in order to determine whether to make a traffic stop or not. These can be such things as erratic lane changes, failure to use turn signals or making wide radius turns. It must be noted that you do not have to violate any laws in order for them to pull you over and investigate the matter further; any form of non-normal driving is reason enough for them to suspect you of violating the Missouri DWI law.
It also stands to reason that just because you may have violated a Missouri traffic law, that does not automatically make you guilty of violating the state DWI law. Things such as weaving in and out of lanes can just as easily be caused by youtexting another person while driving or younot paying attention to your driving as you change a CD.
According to rulings in the Missouri court system all an officer has to do to have “justifiable grounds” to stop you, is for them to either observe you breaking a law or if they think you are operating your vehicle in an unusual manner. This then leads to what is called “reasonable suspicion” and will subsequently lead them to justifiably pull you over. Once the officer has stopped your vehicle they will then investigate the situation and you may be charged with a violation of Missouri law including a DWI offense.
It must be noted that reasonable suspicion is not enough to press charges or get a conviction under Missouri law; there must be clear evidence of “probable cause”. That is why the matter is investigated further once the traffic stop has taken place. Even some police officers misinterpret this at times but Missouri law clearly states probable cause is “knowledge of facts and circumstances sufficient for a prudent person to believe a suspect is committing or has committed an offense”.
When the case is presented before the courts they will look at all the facts to see if they feel that any prudent person would believe that the arresting DWI officer acted with probable cause when making the arrest. There are a number of ways that a DWI stop officer can prove probable cause; these can be factors such as admission of guilt by you, a failed breath analysis test or a failed field sobriety test.