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Legal-Kal
Legal-Kal, Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 554
Experience:  Attorney at Law Offices of Khaled Issa
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Okay, dad t a pole in the parking lot in front of Walmart.

Customer Question

Okay, dad hit a pole in the parking lot in front of Walmart. No significant damage to public property, only personal auto damage caused. No other parties involved. By law, procedure was followed; inspection and reports made to business, then it was his wife that drove home. However, they were stopped by four local PD's- charged w/"imprudent driving+BAC over legal:1.1". Was taken to PD: Holding cell one hour. Is this even allowed!? How can he be charged if he wasn't driving when they were stopped?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 11 months ago.

Good evening:

My name is ***** ***** I would be happy to provide general information regarding your legal issue. I am sorry to hear about this situation.

May I ask in what state this occurred in? This will allow me to provide more accurate information.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Camden County, Missouri.
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 11 months ago.

Thank you for that information. Let me address your questions in reverse order as that would make more sense.

1) DWI

The law allows one to be charged (read: charged, which is separate from conviction) if someone operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition. Police can use both direct and circumstantial evidence to charge someone. Direct evidence of a DWI is the typical pulling of someone when they are intoxicated either based on the officer's observation or based on the results of a breath/blood/urine test.

Circumstantial evidence is when the officers have evidence that, although not direct, would lead to a reasonable person to believe that someone was/is driving under the influence. Examples of circumstantial evidence include: statements of someone who was driving, but no longer is driving, but admits to driving one way or another (either directly to an officer or by filing a report immediately after an accident to someone who may believe that the person was under the influence of alcohol).

Another example of circumstantial evidence is if someone was driving a car, pulls into their house and goes inside. An officer then comes, feels the hood of the car is warm (which makes a reasonable person believe that the car had been recently operated) and the officer speaks to the operator and believes that the operator was under the influence.

Here, it looks like the police are relying on circumstantial evidence to charge your father. While circumstantial evidence is more than enough to charge someone, it would be a little harder to actually convict your father of DWI without other evidence.

2) Holding cell

Police are allowed to hold an individual after an arrest for a reasonable time. "Reasonableness" is judged based upon the need for the hold and applicable laws. One reasonable basis for holding someone is for processing. Oftentimes, the police are "busy" with other issues and cannot process someone right away. Another reason is a "DUI/DWI Hold." The hold is used to make sure that the arrestee sobers up, at least a little, before he or she is released. I must say that an hour hold on a DUI/DWI arrest, would be upheld as reasonable by almost every single Court for both processing requirements and sobering requirements.

Do you have any follow up questions based on what I have provided thus far?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I'm still confused on the actual arrest. I have an understanding of the law(s),although extremely open to individual perspectives in the matter.
My concern is why multiple officers were dispatched based upon vehicle profiling? It was clearly stated- the reason for the stop was "a bystanders' description of vehicle said to have been seen leaving the scene of an accident."
Since when is hitting a pole considered an accident.
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 11 months ago.

If I were to opine on why multiple officers were dispatched, I would admittedly be speculating. However, in my experience, there can be several reasons why more than one officer is dispatched to a call, one being more likely than other reasons.

Leaving the scene of an accident is a Class A misdemeanor in Missouri. This is the same as a battery, assault or retail theft. A Class A misdemeanor is the highest misdemeanor level in the state and is, indeed, a criminal offense under the laws. This appears to be the case because someone reported to have seen a vehicle leaving the scene after an accident. To police, "an accident is an accident," meaning they have the right to investigate (and often will especially when there is additional indicia of "criminal activity," which appears to be the case here because of the "bystander's" report whether it involves property damage or personal injury.

For your review, I have attached a link to the actual law on fleeing the scene of an accident: http://www.moga.mo.gov/mostatutes/stathtml/57700000601.html

As you can see in Paragraph 1, the law states "Being the operator of a vehicle or a vessel involved in an accident resulting in injury or death or damage to property of another person..." As you can see, the law protects property damage. In your example, the accident leading to property damage and subsequent "fleeing" triggers a criminal act, allowing officers to respond to criminal activity.

So, to police, they would consider this to be "doing their job" in responding to a report of a possible criminal action. In that case, if there is time, police will always, ALWAYS, get back up in responding to a possible criminal offense to play it safe. This appears to be the case here. Police received a call about a possible criminal activity (leaving the scene of an accident).

Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 11 months ago.

Please do not forget to RATE my ANSWER if you have no other questions. Thank you.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
they can charge any and/or all individuals involved?
That would only explain the 'Imprudent driving'.. The officers added a DUI charge based on.. 'Ones belief, that the individual may have been under the influence'?
Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 11 months ago.

Believe it or not, officer's can charge misdemeanors "upon probable cause" that an offense (DWI) was committed. That is why when I discussed DWI above, I said they can charge him with DWI but proving it would be a different story. DWI can be proven one of two ways: 1) is the commonly known .08 blood/breath/urine result. 2) is based upon the officer's observations and experience that the individual was under the influence. It is a lot harder to obtain a conviction based on the second basis than it is the first. An experienced attorney can cross-examine the officer and cast doubt on his "observations" and "conclusions" and obtain a not guilty verdict on the DWI charge. Unfortunately, that still does not prohibit the officers from charging the individual with DWI.

Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 11 months ago.

Please remember to comply with the TOS and click ACCEPT and rate my assistance if you have no other questions

Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 11 months ago.

It has been a few days since the last posting. It appears you have asked three questions regarding the same exact issue and have not complied with the Terms of Service for these questions if provided sufficient answers and assistance.

Please click ACCEPT if you have no other questions.

Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 11 months ago.

Please click ACCEPT if you have no other questions and are happy with my assistance as we work on the honor system here.

Expert:  Legal-Kal replied 11 months ago.

Friendly reminder, please remember to click ACCEPT and rate my assistance. The fact that you posed three questions without ratings will make it less likely you will receive expert assistance in the future.