On this St. Louis DWI blog we've written several times about the Fourth Amendment and how it protects people against the unlawful search and seizure of their person or property by law enforcement officials. However, it is important to understand that this does not bar every search in every situation. A series of recent investigations at Missouri State University highlights some issues surrounding warranted searches and how police conduct drug investigations.
A St. Louis patrolman is facing disciplinary proceedings after he struck a man with a baton, choked him and slammed his head into the bumper of a patrol car. He is the subject of a disciplinary trial aimed at determining whether he should be reinstated after his suspension is over. The victim in this case was suspected of trespassing at a downtown casino and was placed in handcuffs. While arresting him, the officer in question allegedly used excessive force, racial slurs and obscenities. Surveillance video at the scene showed the officer choking the suspect and slamming his head against the bumper. A casino paramedic testified that the officer also struck the suspect with a baton.
This summer the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that public defenders may refuse new cases if they cannot handle the ones they have. At first, it sounds like a disaster for people who are accused of crimes and cannot afford a defense attorney. But it could pave the way for longer-term solutions for the state's overloaded criminal justice system.
A Missouri DWI case is making national headlines this month after the Supreme Court agreed to hear a dispute over forced blood draws for drunk driving suspects. The decision of the nation's highest court could affect drivers' privacy rights across the country.
In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that before conducting a sobriety checkpoint, officials must file a plan that describes how the random vehicles will be chosen. Drivers cannot be stopped because of race or other protected factors. The officials are also generally required to choose every third or fourth vehicle. If that standard isn't adhered to, a sobriety checkpoint is considered illegal.
The commonsense phrase "don't drink and drive" is seemingly straightforward. Yet, you can drink and drive. You just have to consume an amount of alcohol under the legal limit, and an amount which does not leave you in any way impaired. Sometimes, ensuring that you don't cross the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) line is more difficult than you might think. Can you have those two glasses of wine while out with friends and remain sober? Those few beers over the course of several hours with your buddies?