WE'LL TAKE CARE OF YOU.
Field Sobriety Tests, Criminal vs. Civil, SATOP
I want clients to be informed about their charges and their rights.
I won’t pass your case along to a junior associate: I’ll work your case myself.
My fees are reasonable and I want to help you!
You have just been arrested for DWI or DUI.
If you are convicted of a DWI or DUI, the judge who sentences you has the option of sentencing you to jail for up to ninety (90) days, if the DWI or DUI is charged as an infraction, and up to one (1) year in the county jail, if the DWI or DUI is charged as a misdemeanor. A felony charge carries a punishment of over a year in prison, with some requiring mandatory jail time. At the first docket setting of your case, the judge informs you of your right to an attorney and tells you to come back in a month with an attorney. Take his or her advice.
How Can I Help YOU?
If you’ve come to this website, you have likely either recently received a ticket for DWI, have a friend or family member who got a DWI, or you’re just curious about what happens if you get a DWI. Hopefully, by reading through this site, you’ll learn about the process, how best to fight a DWI, and why you should call me, Chris Dulle, if you get a ticket for Driving While Intoxicated.
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After Your DWI/DUI Arrest Timing Is Everything.
As you are being released from the police station following your arrest for DWI or DUI, whether you have submitted to the BAC test or refused, the arresting officer should not only hand you your tickets, he or she should also hand you a fifteen day notice of the suspension, or revocation, of your driver’s license – unless the BAC test was of your blood or urine, in which case the arresting officer will not have immediate results of your BAC and will have to await notification of the test results before giving you a notice of suspension. Regardless of whether you submitted to the BAC test and failed, or you refused the test, your driver’s license will be suspended, or revoked, in fifteen days – whether you were given a notice of suspension/revocation, or not – unless you request an administrative hearing (where you submitted to the BAC test) or file a petition for review (where you refused to submit to the BAC test).
If you do not file a request for administrative hearing, or petition for review, within this period of time, you will have given up, forever, your right to challenge every aspect of your arrest, beginning with the Dulle Law Firm and concluding with your submission, or refusal to submit, to the BAC test – before you have had the opportunity to review the report of your arrest (i.e., the Alcohol Influence Report) and, generally, before you have had the opportunity to consult with an attorney. This includes the proper administration of the field sobriety tests, the proper maintenance of the BAC machine and the proper administration of the BAC test – which are the best areas to attack when challenging the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. DON’T WAIT. We can help you preserve your right to challenge the suspension, or revocation, of your driver’s license and privilege to drive – even if only temporarily – by filing a request for an administrative hearing or petition for review. We can also help you with your challenge of the suspension, or revocation, of your driver’s license.
Are DWI•DUI Criminal, Civil Or Both?
Both. A charge of DWI and DUI is a crime – whether charged as a municipal ordinance violation, a misdemeanor or a felony – for the reason it is a violation of a law for which a conviction may result in the assessment of a fine or jail time, or both.
Driving with an excess BAC, or a conviction for a DWI or a DUI, or a refusal to submit to a BAC test, can also result in the suspension, or revocation, of your driver’s license. The process of suspending, or revoking, your driver’s license, as well as the filing of a request for administrative hearing or petition for review to challenge the suspension of your driver’s license, is a civil matter.
You only had two drinks and that was an hour ago. That’s what you told the police officer. Why is he asking you to step out of the car to perform some field sobriety tests?
What If You Refused to Submit to a BAC Test?
Your driver’s license will be revoked for a year. Revocation means your privilege to drive has been revoked and, in addition to any other requirements for the reinstatement of your driver’s license, you must retake the complete driver examination and apply for a new driver’s license and pay the application fees.
No matter the difference, the suspension, or revocation, of your privilege to operate a motor vehicle means you cannot drive – at all – until you have complied with the requirements for reinstatement of your driver’s license (i.e., completion of the period of time for which your driver’s license has been suspended, or revoked; completion of SATOP; payment of a reinstatement fee; filing of an SR-22; and, where applicable, installation of an ignition interlock device.)
DWI vs. DUI - Which is it?
In Missouri, section 577.010 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri governs Driving While Intoxicated charges. Additionally, most municipalities have their own ordinances which are (at least loosely) based on that statute. While most officers will write a ticket for DWI, they will sometimes write a DUI ticket when they believe a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs (ie - Driving Under the Influence of Drugs). In short, the two terms are used interchangeably in Missouri. However, DWI is the proper term.
Each DWI case is different because every traffic stop is different. I’ve never seen two identical cases, so your questions can only truly be answered correctly by contacting me and talking through the chain of events that led you to contact a DWI lawyer. I am always willing to discuss a case for free, so don’t be afraid to call me whether you have been arrested for your first DWI or if you’ve had multiple DWIs and are considered a repeat offender.
Here's why I'm the guy to work with.
I have been fighting DWIs for twelve years and I provide my clients with personal attention and thorough communication.
Every client has my office number, my cell phone number, and my email address. I even leave notes in my files so my assistant can return calls asking about simple information like new court dates or payment information. I want clients to call me and I want clients to be educated about their cases and the law applicable to their cases so they can make the decisions that are best for them.
I also believe that solid, aggressive representation doesn’t have to cost an arm-and-a-leg. My fees are reasonable (starting at $1,500 for a first offense DWI without a trial) and I work with many of my clients on payment plans. I have helped hundreds of clients navigate their drug or alcohol DWIs through the legal system and I have the experience, knowledge and skills to help you challenge the suspension, or revocation, of your driver license and your privilege to drive. I also have the experience, knowledge and skills to help you win your criminal case. No matter the charge, no matter the jurisdiction, no matter the law enforcement agency, contact me for a free initial consultation at 314-384-4000. I want to help you!
You just performed some field sobriety tests and you think you passed. Why is the police officer arresting you and putting you in the back of his police car?
DULLE’S DOZEN STEP DWI•DUI PROCESS
I. The story of how you got here:
Each DWI case is different because every traffic stop is different. I’ve never seen two identical cases, so your questions can only truly be answered correctly by contacting me and talking through the chain of events that led you to contact me. Fortunately, the law is the same for everyone, so I can review the facts of your case in light of the applicable law to give you and idea of how strong or how weak I believe your case would be at trial.
No one leaves the house intending to get a DWI. Most people have no idea that approximately one drink per hour will put you at the legal limit in Missouri. Obviously, that can vary slightly, depending on your body type, height/weight ratio, and type of alcohol you’re drinking. However, the average person, assuming normal alcohol consumption, will blow over the legal limit if you consume more alcohol than that.
In my fourteen years of practice, I have appeared in almost every single municipal court in St. Louis County: from Bellefontaine Neighbors to Bella Villa, and from Pine Lawn to Pacific. Plus, I regularly work in all of the St. Louis County satellite courts, St. Louis City Municipal Court, and the City of Maryland Heights Municipal Court. I handle state cases in St. Louis County, St. Louis City, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, and Franklin County.
The experiences I’ve gained from all of the courts has shown me some of the best DWI cops in the area, as well as some of the worst, and almost everything in between. If you recently got a DWI, I want to hear your story, too. Please call me so I can hear your story and help you work through a step-by-step DWI process of bringing your case to the best disposition possible.
II. How did you get caught driving?
By “driving” I mean operating a motor vehicle. While that doesn’t sound complicated, the Supreme Court has definitely made it so. In Missouri, operation of a motor vehicle can be shown in a number of different ways, and I’ve represented clients who were allegedly “operating a vehicle” in almost every way you can imagine.
The majority of my clients get caught actually driving a vehicle in the traditional sense. Often, they get caught speeding and the officer smells alcohol on their breath. Other times, they run into a field sobriety check point and fumble with a wallet or insurance card. Most of the time, however, an officer say reports they spotted a car weaving inside of a lane or straddling the line; what they call Illegal Lane Use. All of these can give an officer reason to pull that car over and can help the officer develop probable cause to request the driver to submit to standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs)
III. What happened during the stop?
Once the police officer determined there was reason to stop you, he or she turned on their lights and effectuated the traffic stop. Before you knew it, the police officer was in your face asking you questions. Although he will write the reason you were stopped into the probable cause determination, this is where the DWI investigation really began to gain traction. This is where the little details of a DWI arrest become very important. The details are typically described in a report called the Alcohol Influence Report (AIR) which your attorney will obtain as part of the discovery process.
The officer’s observations are key in many DWI arrests. He may say he smelled an odor normally associated with alcohol coming from your breath as you answered his questions. The odor may be described as faint, moderate, or strong. Your eyes may have been watery, bloodshot, glassy, or staring. He may report your balance was uncertain, swaying, staggering, stumbling, falling, or something worse, and your speech could have been slurred, confused, incoherent, stuttering, or mumbling. The officer likely also noted any unusual actions you exhibited such as profanity, vomiting, fighting, hiccups, belching, or urinating. These observations may have lead the officer to ask you to perform some field sobriety tests.
In every DWI stop, the officer will weigh the totality of the circumstances to decide whether to continue toward the path leading to an arrest. As more and more clues are observed, the likelihood of a trip to jail becomes more probable.
IV. Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Some of the most complicated and confusing evidence presented by a Prosecutor in a DWI prosecution involves a test or tests which are referred to as “field sobriety tests.” There are many myths floating around about these tests, but the worst myth is that you are required to do them. In fact, you are NOT required to perform the tests! In fact, I have rarely had a client who helped him or herself by doing the tests.
You are not required to submit to field sobriety tests. You’re not going to help yourself by doing them. Most officers follow the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) guidelines for field sobriety tests and will administer the only three tests which have been certified by NHTSA: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test, the Walk and Turn test, & the One Leg Stand test.
Each test is required to be administered in a very specific manner and an officer’s failure to follow the requirements for administering the test can call the results into questions. The tests are very complex and nuanced, and most lawyers do not know the first thing about how to administer the tests or how to interpret the results as written by an officer in an alcohol influence report. The officer has completed hours of training to learn these tests. Your lawyer should, too.
V. The Interview
After you are arrested, the officer is going to try to build the case against you even further by asking you a series of questions. This not casual conversation! The answers will be logged onto the Interview portion of the alcohol influence report and given to the Prosecutor. Questions that may sound like trivial chit-chat (“So, where were you coming from?”) may be used against you to prove an element of the crime at a trial.
Good Prosecutors know that judges and juries like to know the whole story, so they often present ancillary elements which are not required to prove their case, but which may help the judge or jury get the whole picture of the person who is being charged. The Interview process is the first, and often only, way certain details will be available to them. As such, officers are trained to ask questions such as “What were you doing during the last three hours?” and “When did you last eat?” to elicit answers they can use to build a case against you.
Don’t I have to talk to the cop once I’ve been arrested?
You do not have to answer these questions truthfully or at all! There is no penalty for giving untruthful answers and there is no penalty for refusing to answer them at all. In short, nothing you tell the officers is going to be helpful. If you give answers that strengthen their case, you messed up. If you give answers they don’t want to hear, they won’t believe you anyway.
Finally, more and more police departments are recording these interviews, so you are stuck with the answers you give. It is best to politely decline to answer questions after you’ve been arrested.
VI. The Breath Test or Blood Draw
In Missouri, a person operating a motor vehicle impliedly consents to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test upon the reasonable request of a law enforcement officer. Is that supposed to be in English? What the heck does that even mean? It sure sounds like it means you have to blow into the machine. However, do you have to blow? What happens if you don’t blow? These are difficult questions if you don’t know the law. Heck, they’re difficult questions if you DO know the law! Further, they’re often dependent upon how much you’ve had to drink, how long it has been since you last drank, and what jurisdiction you were arrested in.
What jurisdiction in St. Louis County makes the most DWI arrests?
If you submit to a breath, blood, or urine test, you risk giving the officer evidence he or she needs to submit to the prosecutor to support the charge against you. The results of the test will be the main piece of evidence the Prosecutor will use when we go to court to try to prove you were operating a vehicle in an intoxicated condition. Obviously, it may not be the best idea to do that.
A positive breath test is not only evidence that can be used against you in court. The results can be sent to the Department of Revenue and your license can be suspended. The suspension lasts a minimum of 90 days (although you may be eligible for a restricted driving privilege). In order to be reinstated from that suspension, you are required to complete the SATOP program, post an SR-22 insurance filing, and pay a $45 reinstatement fee. If you wish to fight the suspension, you a required to file a request for an Administrative Hearing within 15 days of your arrest.
However, what are the consequences if you refuse the test? Is there anything a lawyer can do if you refuse the test?
In Missouri, refusing a breath, blood, or urine test is not a crime! However, you can get your license revoked for one year. Fortunately, you have the right to challenge that revocation by filing a Petition For Review in the circuit court of the county in which the alleged refusal occurred within 15 days of the refusal. This gives you and your lawyer the opportunity to review the case and challenge the officer’s procedure during the traffic stop in the hopes of convincing a judge to overturn the revocation of your license. In some counties, prosecutors will agree to give your license back in exchange for meeting certain conditions.
You need a lawyer who knows what questions to ask and what to file if you have refused a breath test. Remember that the filing is time sensitive! You only have 15 days to try to save your license. Hire a lawyer who can get it done quickly. Hire someone with experience.
VII. Time to Get a Lawyer
Everyone knows “the choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertising.” It shouldn’t be based on fancy websites, billboards, or who your best friend used. However, all of those can and should be factors you consider when hiring an attorney.The legal process is not fun for most people, but choosing the right lawyer for you can make it more than just tolerable. The right lawyer for you is the lawyer you believe will represent you well, return your phone calls, and is someone you can talk to. If your lawyer doesn’t know the law or the court, he or she will not be able to convey a sense of confidence to you or to the prosecutor. If your lawyer doesn’t return your calls, you will never truly feel like you know what is going on with your case. If your lawyer is not someone you can talk to, you will never feel free to ask for answers to the questions you have.
VIII. When choosing a lawyer, remember:
If you can’t understand what they are saying in the initial consultation, you will never understand what they are saying after you hire them if a lawyer won’t return your call before you hire them, they won’t return them afterward either if you feel a lawyer talks down to you, acts stuffy, or isn’t someone you can talk to, that feeling is not going to go away just because you paid them. Don’t be afraid to call multiple lawyers to find one you like. If they won’t give you time to talk about your case until you pay, they aren’t going to give you time after you pay, either.
Don’t be afraid to call multiple lawyers to find one you like. If they won’t give you time to talk about your case until you pay, they aren’t going to give you time after you pay, either. Please call me, Chris Dulle, and The Dulle Law Firm, and give me a chance to earn your business.
IX. Working the Case
One of the biggest complaints I hear in the legal world is people who say, “I sat down with Lawyer X and really liked what I heard, but then after I paid them, I never saw Lawyer X again.”
If I hire you, who is going to handle my case?
At The Dulle Law Firm, I do the initial consultation. I sign the pleadings. I meet with you to review discovery and police reports. I talk with you about strategy. I appear in court with you. You will never be passed off to a junior associate who is working your case. If you hire me, I am the lawyer on your case, from beginning to end.
X. Going to Court
Eventually, every case ends up in court. We may continue the case for a while in order to investigate, negotiate, or obtain some sort of compliance. However, every case has to end. There are only several ways this can happen: dismissal, plea, or trial.
I am often asked if I can get a client’s (or potential client’s) case dismissed. The short answer is no. Procedurally, it is not a defense attorney’s job to dismiss a case. In rare circumstances, I may be able to convince a prosecutor to dismiss a case, but that is not a promise I can make to a potential client without reviewing the evidence.
Statistically, more cases get pled with some sort of sentencing recommendation than get dismissed or tried. Thus, part of my job is to discuss possible options for a favorable recommendation from the prosecutor, even if we are pretty sure we are going to trial. It is my job and my ethical duty to convey each and every offer made by the prosecutor to my client, even if I don’t think the offer is a particularly good offer. However, as someone who has handled hundreds of intoxication related offenses, I know which deals are good and which are sucker bets.
Trials are the ultimate way for defendants to exercise their rights. There is nothing more American than picking a jury and making a prosecutor try to prove each and every element of each and every charge against you. Not every lawyer is cut-out to try cases and not every lawyer likes trying cases. I am not afraid to try cases and I ask every client to keep an open mind about setting their case for trial, even if they are asking for a plea deal at our first meeting. Sometimes being open to every option allows you to achieve the best option for you.
XI. Ancillary Fees
In addition to attorney’s fees, clients who plead guilty or are found guilty at trial will be expected to pay other fees. Costs for court reporters and investigators are costs which may be incurred by clients during the case which are not covered under our agreement for attorney’s fees. Fines, court costs, probation costs, recoupment fees, and program fees are typical costs which clients are faced with when a case is disposed of and are not paid out of the attorney’s fees, either.
XII. THE PROGRAMS
At the end of the day, education is the key to ensuring you never have to hire an attorney for a DWI or DUI again. To that end, educational programs such as SATOP & VIP serve an important role in helping people get the knowledge they need to avoid driving over the limit. For people who need a bit more help, SCRAM devices and IID’s help keep people from drinking and/or drinking & driving.
SATOP - the Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP) is a program designed to educate people on issues of drinking and driving. SATOP is mandatory for anyone who is placed on probation for a DUI or DWI, and before you will be allowed into a particular program, you will first have to complete an assessment, which will cost $375.00. Once the assessment is completed, you will be assigned to a program with additional fees.
VIP - the Victim’s Impact Panel is a one night program which educates you on the hazards and consequences of drinking and driving, which I understand is taught by both victims and offenders of drinking and driving, taught by Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD). It costs $35 to take the class and it lasts about 90 minutes.
SCRAM - the Secured Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor is an ankle bracelet, worn around-the-clock, that samples your perspiration continuously in order to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety. This allows participants to continue being productive members of society. To insure compliance, the SCRAM staff will be alerted to any tampering of the unit or if alcohol use is detected. The courts, prosecuting attorney, and probation officer (if applicable) will be notified of any violations. In order for an individual to participate in this program, they must be court ordered into the program. The cost is $12.00 per day with a hook-up fee of $75.00.
IID - the Ignition Interlock Device is a mechanism similar to a brethalyzer which is installed in a vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle can be started, the driver must breathe into the device. If the analyzed result is higher than a programed blood alcohol concentration, the vehicle will not start. The Missouri legislator has mandated this must be required in any plea for a second DWI or DUI plea.
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