St. Louis DUI Accidents – Defendants Seeking Legal Loopholes

St. Louis DUI Accidents – Defendants Seeking Legal Loopholes

A St. Louis man faces up to 15 years in prison after admitting he was drunk when he ran a red light two years ago, killing a woman whose car he struck as a result. At the time, his blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.12 percent – well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

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It was the first time he was arrested on any type of drunk driving charge, but according to estimates by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, it probably wasn’t the first time he’d ever driven drunk. The organization has posited that the average first-time DUI offender has driven drunk approximately 80 times before he or she is arrested. What’s more, MADD contends the majority of drunk driving deaths and injuries are caused by first-time DUI offenders. The contention was fact-checked by PolitiFact – and proven true.

Our St. Louis car accident lawyers recognize that drunk driving is a major problem here in the city and across the state. That’s why we are especially concerned about an apparent legal loophole that would allow more DUI offenders off the hook in their criminal cases.

According to a recent report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, scores of breathalyzer tests used to convict drunk drivers in criminal court may have to be tossed.

The issues is in the way police maintain the equipment used to analyze breath-alcohol content. The Department of Health & Senior Services has strict guidelines regarding the maintenance of the devices, which helps to ensure that the chemical test results are correct. The regulations make it clear that the machines have to be systematically tested throughout the year at different levels of blood alcohol. Those levels are 0.10 percent, 0.08 percent or 0.04 percent.

However, an eagle-eyed defense attorney recently found a loophole in the regulation that shows that between Nov. 30, 2012 through Jan. 29, 2014, the written regulation said that the equipment had to be tested at levels of 0.10 percent, 0.08 percent and 0.04 percent. That would appear to indicate that the machines were supposed to be calibrated at all three levels – not just one of the three – at regular intervals.

This has allowed several DUI defense attorneys in the state to successfully argue in criminal court that the results couldn’t be trusted because the machines weren’t properly calibrated according to state regulations. Just recently, a circuit judge in St. Charles County ruled in favor of two DUI suspects because prosecutors weren’t able to show that the breath test equipment used in their cases was properly maintained per state rules.

But the effect may go beyond criminal cases. In civil matters, the Dispatch reported, that slight change in the regulation could mean that the Department of Revenue will have a tougher time stripping drunk drivers of their licenses. It could also make it a tougher for injury lawyers to prove driver negligence if one of the key pieces of elements proving the driver was drunk is successfully called into question. If a driver is found not guilty in the criminal case, that too could be used to his or her advantage in the civil case.

Still, the oversight won’t affect the approximately 30,000 drivers who are convicted annually for failing to take a breath test in the first place.

It’s also important to point out that the results of a breathalyzer test are only one piece of evidence. An experienced injury attorney is committed to thoroughly investigating each case, and presenting all relevant evidence in the course of working to secure you the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Entries:
Fatal Missouri Crash Blamed on Teen Speed, Alcohol, Jan. 17, 2014, St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer Blog

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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