As the holiday season arrives, some advice on staying safe, ( and jail-free )
It's Holiday Season so that means Christmas parties, work parties, a night out on the town, concert, movie , meeting up with some friends, and maybe having a drink or two. Easiest way to avoid a DWI? Designate a driver or take a taxi or Uber home. The reality is that this doesn't always happen, and that next drink may just put you at or over the legal limit of .08 depending on what you've had to eat, gender, body size, medical conditions...etc. But you don't feel drunk or intoxicated, you feel fine to drive home, so you get behind the wheel...and end up charged with DUI.
Avoiding a DUI charge in Kansas City can be as easy as taking some common-sense measures to avoid the initial traffic stop in the first place. First, make sure your tags are current and all of the lights on your vehicle are in working condition. Something many people are not aware of: check the light illuminating your license plate. Under both Kansas and Missouri law your tag must be illuminated at night and visible to law enforcement; if this light is out this constitutes probable cause for a traffic stop. Believe it or not this has become one of the most common reasons for late-night DUI traffic stops. In other words, I have clients who were not weaving, speeding, or exhibiting any kind of unsafe driving being stopped and subsequently arrested for an DUI because of a burned out, $.50 light bulb. Typically, the sensors on your vehicle's display won't inform you that this light is burnt out. You have to check it manually. Not having your tag light working is an open invitation to a DUI Officer to pull you over.
In Kansas : In addition to having all equipment in working order, obey all traffic laws, especially the speed limit; again, common sense. Most municipalities in the Kansas City Metro Area, especially on the Kansas side run radar or 'Speed Enforcement' late at night. Prairie Village, Mission Hills, and Mission all come to mind and they are very effective. These officers work the night shift DUI Patrol, are expertly trained in DUI enforcement; and they are looking for any reason to pull you over in the anticipation that a late-night traffic stop will turn into a DUI Arrest. A ticket for speeding gives them probable cause to pull you over and begin a DUI investigation.
In Missouri : Most DUI arrests made on the Missouri side are because the client had an accident, or committed a traffic infraction in direct view of an Officer, or at a DUI Checkpoint. Kansas City has become less reliant on the use of DUI Checkpoints and is increasingly focused on saturation patrols at designated times. See my earlier post about the $500,000 DUI Mobile Enforcement Vehicle being used in KCMO.
DUI Checkpoints : Kansas and Missouri both utilize DUI checkpoints . When you are stopped at a DUI Checkpoint, there is no traffic violation so the Officer has to build the case 'From the Ground Up', meaning he wants you to incriminate yourself by asking you if you have had anything to drink that evening. Your admission that you 'had a glass of wine with dinner' is enough for the Officer to have you exit your vehicle and submit to a battery of testing. I advise clients that they are not under oath and to tell the Officer that you have not been drinking is not a crime, and generally in their best interests.
Field Sobriety Tests . These tests are deceptively complicated and easy to fail, but will be considered as serious evidence of intoxication in Court; however often the Officer rushes the process and takes less than thirty seconds to 'Instruct' you on how to perform each test. At the end of each 'Instruction' the Officer will ask you if you understand the instructions. You have the right to ask the Officer to explain the test again and demonstrate the test if you don't understand the instructions . For Example: 'That sounds really complicated, would you mind explaining it to me again and demonstrating how it's done?' is completely acceptable. Also, inform the Officer if you have any physical disabilities that might prevent you from performing these tests.