Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at the Benjamin Law Firm, LLC
Phone: 816-318-7943
Offices in Kansas City and Belton, Missouri

Belton Missouri Criminal Defense Law Blog

Report finds issues with breath test devices

Missouri residents may be charged with drunk driving based on the results provided by a flawed breath test machine. That was the main takeaway of a report published by the New York Times. The New York Times report was based on a broader survey that examined the accuracy of these machines across the nation. In Massachusetts, 36,000 cases were thrown over a period of 12 months because of a myriad of problems with evidence gathered by breath test devices.

As these machines get older, they have a harder time rendering an accurate reading. If they are not properly calibrated, maintained and programmed, they can also be vulnerable to improper results. The study that was used in the New York Times piece found that a device that wasn't properly calibrated could produce a result 40% higher than a driver's actual blood alcohol content.

Choose the right traffic ticket defense strategy

Even when you do your best to follow the rules of the road, you could still make a mistake that results in a traffic violation. Too many traffic tickets can turn your life upside down, as they often result in fines, points on your license, insurance premium increases and even a license suspension.

Just because an officer issues a traffic citation doesn't mean you should pay it and move on with your life. It's often best to review the details that resulted in the citation, as doing so may allow you to prevent any consequences.

Medical condition can lead to failed breath tests

Police officers in Missouri and around the country usually rely on the results of breath tests to determine whether or not a motorist consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel, but the devices used to conduct these tests do not always reveal the complete picture. There is an obscure medical condition that changes the way carbohydrates are digested, and it can lead to significantly elevated blood alcohol levels even when a person has consumed no alcohol at all.

The condition has been named auto-brewery syndrome, and doctors have yet to determine what causes it. What is known is that people who suffer from ABS often noticed its symptoms shortly after being prescribed antibiotic medications. It is believed that taking antibiotics creates conditions in the digestive tract that allow certain types of fungi and bacteria to thrive, and it is this fungi and bacteria that ferments carbohydrates and creates ethanol.

Community service disproportionately, unfairly ordered

Being charged with a crime is a daunting experience, and many people in Missouri count community service hours as an acceptable compromise over fines and jail time. A recently-published university study, however, found that community service hours disproportionately affect people of color and low-income communities. The report looked at data from 5,000 people in Los Angeles County who were ordered to perform community service work between the years 2013 and 2014.

Those 5,000 people were collectively ordered to perform 8 million community service work hours. Three million hours were performed for government agencies, amounting to the labor of 1,800 jobs that would otherwise have been paid. The study was completed by the Labor Center and School of Law at UCLA. In at least one-quarter of the cases studied, the person convicted was required to work for 155 hours or more.

Missouri man charged with first-degree murder

A 22-year-old Missouri man has been charged with murder in the first degree in connection with a shooting death on the morning of Oct. 11. Prosecutors have also charged the Texas County resident with multiple felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon. A judge ordered him to be held without bond according to media reports. First-degree murder carries a sentence of death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole in Missouri. The man is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 15 to enter a plea.

According to a report from the Texas County Sheriff's Office, deputies were dispatched to the intersection of Route W and Missouri Route 17 at approximately 7:00 a.m. When they arrived at the scene, deputies say they found a critically injured 30-year-old man lying in the road. The man is said to have identified his assailant before being transported by emergency services workers to Texas County Memorial Hospital. He succumbed to his injuries shortly after being admitted.

More Americans getting arrested

The U.S. crime rate has been on the decline for decades, but the number of people getting arrested in Missouri and across the country is increasing according to a recent study. The research was published in the journal Crime & Delinquency.

The study found that Americans born between 1979 and 1988 are around 3.6 times more likely to have been arrested before the age of 26 than Americans born before 1949. Overall, approximately 23% of U.S. adults between the ages of 26 and 35 have been taken into custody, compared with around 6.4% of adults age 66 or older. The study found that around 28% of women and 19% of men were arrested for serious crimes, including thefts, robberies and assaults. However, many others were arrested for relatively low-level crimes. For example, 31% of women and 28% of men were taken in for "other misdemeanors," 11% of women and 16% of men were arrested for underage drinking, and 8% of women and 9% of men were arrested for drug crimes.

Are you facing a felony DWI in Missouri?

When you were younger, you got a DWI after drinking at a night out with friends. Now, you're several years older and know how important it is to drive while sober. Unfortunately, your designated driver had too much to drink themselves, and you believed you were sober enough to get everyone home safely.

During the drive, an officer stopped you. They claimed you kept crossing the center line. Now, you're facing trouble and could be looking at a DWI in the future.

Woman indicated on murder charge

A 37-year-old woman was indicted on a first-degree murder charge by a Missouri grand jury. The woman told police that she shot the 36-year-old victim while acting out a scene in a movie. She also acknowledged that she had consumed alcohol and was on several medications when she pointed a weapon at her boyfriend.

The grand jury in the case also indicted the woman on a charge of armed criminal action on Sept. 20. Authorities say that the defendant was originally charged with second-degree murder in connection with the incident that took place in March. The woman is expected to be arraigned on Oct. 15, and there was no explanation given as to why the grand jury decided to indict her on a more serious charge.

Jailhouse testimony under increased scrutiny

Authorities in Missouri and throughout the country sometimes use information from jailhouse informants as evidence in criminal proceedings. However, such testimony can be questionable since it is obtained from those looking to reduce their time behind bars. In many cases, evidence has been uncovered that has exonerated defendants who were convicted based on lies told by these informants. Therefore, new rules have been created in many parts of the country to ensure that the veracity of information that they provide.

In Connecticut, a new law will keep track of any benefits that they were given in exchange for talking with prosecutors. According to a member of the Innocence Project, jailhouse informants are among the most common causes of wrongful convictions. In states such as Connecticut and Illinois, pretrial hearings are held to determine if their words should be admitted into evidence that is heard by a jury.

Cannabis breath test aims to measure intoxication

As cannabis becomes decriminalized or legalized for recreational or medical use in Missouri and many other states, questions have been raised about driving under the influence of marijuana. Drunk driving charges are based on blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, and the legal limit of 0.08 was established after lengthy studies examining the effect of alcohol on driving. It is relatively easy for police to test BAC without invasive devices by making use of roadside or in-station breath tests. The driver blows into the device, which measures BAC through assessing alcohol in the breath. While the breath test is now standard and widely accepted, it was initially controversial and heavily disputed.

However, no similar test exists for cannabis. Drivers are accused of driving under the influence of cannabis and face DWI charges in court, bearing the same hefty penalties as a drunk driving conviction. At the same time, there is little clear scientific evidence to indicate how cannabis use influences driving behavior or how much cannabis could impair a driver's decision-making and judgment. In addition, blood and urine tests used to detect cannabis may pick up compounds that are days old with no impact on driving ability.

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Belton Office
8427 Clint Drive
Belton, Missouri 64012

Phone: 816-318-7943
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701 East 63rd Street
Suite 300
Kansas City, MO 64110

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