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Your broken tail light could end up being a DUI charge


You have a great time at parties. You get together with friends, share some laughs and have a few beers. You know your limits and you have always been able to drive home safely, but what happens when the odds catch up with you? Admit it: In the back of your mind is the fear of being stopped on suspicion of drunk driving. However, you could be pulled over by a police officer for another reason altogether, and the way you react could make all the difference in what happens next.

Reasons to make a traffic stop

A police officer must have probable cause in order to make a traffic stop. You might be pulled over because you were weaving, drifting onto the shoulder of the road, braking erratically or displaying any other kind of bad driving behavior. On the other hand, you could be stopped simply for failing to use your turn signal, having an expired license plate tag or for a vehicle defect such as a broken tail light. More obvious issues are windows that are very darkly tinted, a burned-out headlight or loud exhaust pipes.

The next move is yours

Seeing those flashing lights come up behind you when you might be mere minutes from pulling into your driveway is extremely disturbing, but you need to react intelligently. First, pull over to a safe spot on the right side of the road. Turn on your dome light and place your hands on the steering wheel so the officer can see them. You should be able to locate your registration and insurance card easily when asked to present them. Be courteous but not overly friendly or talkative. Do not volunteer information; the officer does not need to know the details about the party you attended or how much you had to drink. If something about your appearance or your mannerisms touch off suspicions with the officer, remember that any admission you make about drinking could be used against you.

Legal help for a Missouri DUI

If you are charged with DUI and arrested in the state of Missouri, you will want to seek legal representation because if you are found guilty, the consequences could be serious. Consider that if you are a first-time offender, you might be looking at six months in jail. You could pay a fine of up to $500 and your driver's license could be suspended for 30 days. You might also be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle-all this because the reason you were stopped to begin with may have been something as ordinary as a broken tail light. An attorney experienced with DUI cases will see that your rights are protected and that you receive the best outcome possible for your case.

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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