Just Plead Guilty to DWI in St. Louis County, Are You Nuts?

St. Louis County Curcuit Court

 
St. Louis County Courts Building

“I was drinking, might as well just plead Guilty…”

This is sometimes referred to as throwing yourself on the mercy of the court after being charged with a DWI in St. Louis County.  The problem is, that’s not really throwing yourself at the court’s mercy at all, it’s simply jumping off a cliff and holding on to a false hope that the world is fair without the effort to make it so.  Throwing yourself at the mercy of the court is also not a very good idea in the state of Missouri, remember, the safeguard of presumption of innocence is a right at trial, not a right when allowing the court to do as they wish.  The jury must presume you not guilty, but not the state, needless to say, the state is charging you with a crime, as it presumes you guilty.  That’s their job!  The reason why walking in alone and saying “have at it” to the prosecutor and the judge is that by simply walking in and pleading guilty without the assistance of counsel, you are essentially giving the state full unbridled power to do what they want, and they are more than happy to take you up on that offer.  It makes one wonder, in what capacity do we ever want the government to have full and complete power over us?  Justice is achieved when two opposing sides present their positions.  In this context, those sides are the state, with its nearly unlimited resources, experience, and connections with the court, and you, with very limited of each of the above, and that’s not a fair fight any way you look at it.  If you are not participating in the system, and simply giving up, justice will not be found, only a full and complete prosecution and annihilation will, fair or not.

At the very foundation of our criminal justice system is the right to the iStock_000007195025Smallpresumption of innocence, the right to be heard, and the right to be represented by an attorney.  Why?  Because we don’t want a system of justice wherein simply because the government says you’re guilty, then you should be punished.  These important Constitutional rights were set many years ago to ensure that our system of justice is fair.  The “catcher” is, you have to use your constitutional rights, not simply lay them down and forget you have them.  In a similar context, though unrelated to Driving While Intoxicated, it’s the same with other Constitutional rights; if you didn’t vote, you haven’t participated in the system, if you take advantage of all the applicable tax exemptions, you’re probably paying more tax than you should, and if you won’t use your insurance when you have a medical emergency, there’s a good chance you’ll get wish you had.

Remember, the scales of justice are scales for a reason, don’t jump off your side of the scale and assume the judge of the day will keep things balanced.  If you want justice, you have to work for it, and if you’re in the governments cross-hairs, you had better fight for it.

By: Guss Markwell

DWI in St. Louis County – Driving?

What is “Driving” for Purposes of a DWI

Man in jeans carrying keys to his car

Driving?

Driving under the Missouri DWI Law?

Missouri Revised Statue 577.010 states that “A person commits the crime of “driving while intoxicated” if he operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated or drugged condition.”  Interestingly, the crime is of “driving while intoxicated” is defined as “operating” a motor vehicle while intoxicated or drugged, not by “driving”.  So what does “operating” mean?

Missouri Caselaw states that “Operating” is a broad term which the General Assembly did not define by statute; and the court goes on to state that “the General Assembly prompts us to apply the plain and ordinary meaning of the term which can be–and has been–defined quite broadly. ”  So while you may not be actually “driving” a car, you can still be cited for DWI and the court will have to decide if you were “operating” the vehicle, based on the particular facts of the case.

By:  Bill Floodman

Missouri DWI Law 577.010

Driving while intoxicated–sentencing restrictions, Jackson County and certain judicial circuits. 

577.010.  1.  A person commits the crime of “driving while intoxicated” if he operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated or drugged condition.

2.  Driving while intoxicated is for the first offense, a class B misdemeanor.  No person convicted of or pleading guilty to the offense of driving while intoxicated shall be granted a suspended imposition of sentence for such offense, unless such person shall be placed on probation for a minimum of two years.

3.  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection 2 of this section, in a circuit where a DWI court or docket created under section 478.007 or other court-ordered treatment program is available, no person who operated a motor vehicle with fifteen-hundredths of one percent or more by weight of alcohol in such person’s blood shall be granted a suspended imposition of sentence unless the individual participates and successfully completes a program under such DWI court or docket or other court-ordered treatment program.

4.  If a person is not granted a suspended imposition of sentence for the reasons described in subsection 3 of this section for such first offense:

(1)  If the individual operated the motor vehicle with fifteen-hundredths to twenty-hundredths of one percent by weight of alcohol in such person’s blood, the required term of imprisonment shall be not less than forty-eight hours;

(2)  If the individual operated the motor vehicle with greater than twenty-hundredths of one percent by weight of alcohol in such person’s blood, the required term of imprisonment shall be not less than five days.