On Breath Test Refusal and Parked Vehicles in Missouri DWI Cases

Some common DWI issues have come up in a recent case in Ladue. Police say that a 25-year-old man from St. Louis was passed out in his car when officers approached his vehicle in a parking lot. He was allegedly behind the wheel, and the engine was running.

The man was charged with persistent-offender DWI because, if he is convicted, it would be his third offense. He was previously convicted of drunk driving in 2012 and in 2008.

As is usually the case with such charges, police said the man’s eyes were bloodshot; his speech was slurred; and his eyes were watery. He allegedly required assistance to stand and wasn’t able to do a field sobriety test. He is also said to have refused a breath test.

Interestingly, even after police got a search warrant for a breath test, the results of the test weren’t released to a local news source. Usually, police are all too willing publicize the results of a breathalyzer.

The young man was taken to St. Louis County jail, and his bond was set at $10,000.

Under Missouri law, drivers give “implied consent” to a breath test. If you refuse a breath test, the arresting officer is obliged to tell you the possible repercussions. If you refuse anyway, then doing so can be used against you and you could lose your license. After you refuse, you are also afforded a period of 20 minutes to contact a lawyer and weigh your options. Generally, a first refusal will result in a license suspension of one year.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that a driver can still be convicted of DWI, even if the vehicle is in park when police arrive. This may not be the case in every situation, though, and any Missouri resident facing a similar predicament would do well to speak with a DWI attorney who can clarify the available legal options.

Source: Ladue-Frontenac Patch, “Third DWI Charge to Man Passed Out Behind Wheel at Schnucks,” Joe Scott, Feb. 7, 2013