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The Dreaded DUI Checkpoint

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Do I have to answer any questions if I get pulled over?

This question was submitted to me by Andy M.

One day, or night, it may happen to you. You may be driving home from work or an evening with friends when something distracts you. You look away from the road for just a moment and then when you look back up you have drifted out of your lane. You quickly correct by steering sharply back into the proper lane.

But, unknown to you there is a police car following you. There is no reason you would have known this, or even cared. You know you are not intoxicated, or even close.

But the flashing lights come on and you pull to the curb. Now you are faced with a number of decisions. The officer who is approaching you is going to ask you questions...

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One question I get a lot is, “if I lose my driver’s license can I still operate a motorized scooter without it?”

As you have probably guessed, this comes up in situations where people are facing charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These are commonly referred to as DWI or DUI charges.

One of my main goals in those cases is to help you keep your license. But sometimes that is very difficult to do, especially if you are on your second or third offense. People will ask me if they can operate a motorized scooter if they lose their driver’s license. Motorized scoters are referred to in Missouri law as motorized bicycles.

Legal Definition

A motorized bicycle is defined as any two-wheeled or three-...

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Summertime always brings an increase in these types of cases. These are usually the result of the police being called to a party and finding underage people consuming alcohol. Kids are home from college, seniors have graduated, or people under age or just drinking to party. There are a few things to remember.

First of all if you are underage and at a party where alcohol is being served you are flirting with danger. Underage drinking frequently leads to problems. Fights break out, property gets damaged or the music get too loud.

What to do if the cops show up!

If the police do show up don’t take off running. That could lead to a charge of resisting arrest. Just stay where you were. Do not make any statements. Do not say you were dri...

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This is a problem I am confronted with on a regular basis. Sitting in my office is a child and his or her parents. The child is charged with some type of drug offense. Usually it is a possession charge. But sometimes it is possession with intent to distribute, or even distribution.

It is difficult for some parents to confront the fact that something has gone wrong in their child’s life to such an extent that they are now regular users of drugs. As a society, we are so judgmental of others who do distasteful things that we frequently will ignore even the most obvious signs that point to problems in our own families. We can’t imagine that drug abuse would be “our” problem.

The one thing that I am constantly reminded...

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Chuck Berry was a client of mine for more than 20 years. It was a privilege to represent him.

His death marks the end of an era. Chuck Berry was the inspiration for musicians for generations and will continue to be known as the founder of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

In 1990 he called my office looking for an attorney to handle some lawsuits for him. He was referred to me by an attorney in San Francisco by the name of Melvin Belli. He, too, was a legend. He was as innovative in the legal field as Chuck Berry was in the musical world. I first met Melvin Belli when I spoke at a conference of what was the the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. Melvin asked me to speak at his annual seminars.

When Chuck Berry got involved in a few high-p...

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In the more than 40 years I have been practicing criminal law I have learned many things. One of them is that there are more good people charged with committing a crime than there are bad people.

That does not mean that the people charged are not guilty of what they are accused of. What I mean by that is most of the people I have represented on criminal cases are good people who have just done something wrong.

Oh, there are plenty of people who are “bad” who have been in my office. But they are the exception. The rest of my clients are everyday people who have violated the law, but that doesn’t make them bad.

Alcohol related offenses are a perfect example. People violate that law all the time. Most of them don’t d...

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DWI Checkpoints have been is use in Missouri for many years. They are a staple of law enforcement and they are not going away. There is constant debate as to how useful they really are. They do get some drunk drivers off the road. But they also trap a few of those people who are not really under the influence of alcohol but have had something to drink.

Starting last summer there seemed to be a lot of chatter on the Internet about what you should do if you find yourself at a DWI checkpoint. The advice ranges from total cooperation to almost total resistance. I guess the best thing I can say is, “Don’t drink and drive and you will be okay.”

But even then, pulling into a DWI roadblock can be scary. Even if you have not had...

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Clients frequently wonder what attorneys do when they appear in court. A lot of time it is just a matter of waiting. Today is an example.

This morning I had to be in the Circuit Court in St. Charles County for a sentencing on a case. This will be the final appearance for this young man. The Judge will either put him on probation or send him to jail. We don’t know what the outcome will be because he entered what is called an “open plea.” In other words he pled guilty without the prosecutor making any recommendation on the case.

This happens infrequently. It happened in this case because we could not agree with the prosecutor as to what would be an acceptable recommendation. In other words, we think they were being too ha...

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“But wait,” you say. “How about all that stuff I see on television about DNA?” Well, it is a little misleading. For instance, DNA cannot distinguish between identical twins while even identical twins do not have the same fingerprints. I guess that begs the question, then, if they are truly “identical twins” doesn’t it? I mean to what level are they identical? They do have identical DNA, but they do not have identical fingerprints. And when you really start breaking it down you can find other small differences in twins that make them not truly identical.

Fingerprints Are Not Easy To Find

In the hundreds, if not thousands, of cases I have handled, fingerprints hardly ever play a part. You always se...

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