Without fail, the most recurring question I field as a St. Charles DWI lawyer - or the question most attorneys field for that matter - from potential clients or curious motorists is: "Should I blow?" People are intensely curious if they should submit to a breath examination when a law enforcement officer requests you take one.
St. Charles is a suburban county of more than 300,000 residents. Its suburban nature limits residents' real transportation choices almost exclusively to one's own vehicle. Thus, a St. Charles DWI lawyer typically has a host of clients at any given time who are facing DWI charges.
First, let's start at the beginning for some of the back-story: Much of the "To Blow or Not To Blow" discussion surrounds something called Missouri's implied consent law. Essentially this means that that you're exchanging something with the state for the state giving you something in return. Put simply, in consideration for the state granting you a license - a privilege, not a right - to drive a vehicle, you in turn consent to submit a breath, blood or urine sample whenever a law officer believes he or she has probable cause to that you are under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances or even certain prescription medications. Theoretically, you cannot refuse a breathalyzer test.
To that end, there growing instances - almost any St. Charles DWI lawyer will tell you from recent local experience - where judges are on standby for DWI checkpoints. The same is happening more often across the state. Such checkpoints are planned in advance. Judges are designated to be ready to sign warrants when officers have presented them probable cause to believe someone was driving and at the same time was also intoxicated. A judge on standby simply means that if you wish to refuse, you almost certainly cannot. The judge's signature on a search warrant gives authority to take compulsory blood samples for the testing blood alcohol content.
The reality, though, is that judges rarely are on standby for issuance of warrants after routine DWI stops. Typically, such an instance would only occur after a fatal or serious injury crash. So when a driver refuses to blow on routine stops, he or she is threatened with loss of driving privileges for a year. That's not exactly an accurate description of the sanction. There are several legal tools a lawyer would employ for their clients who refuse to blow. There are also strategies that are effective even if you blow and fail. As a St. Charles DWI lawyer, I can tell you many drivers in that jurisdiction can even avoid any suspension or revocation of their licenses even if they refused to blow.
If you have further interest in the subject that is not addressed here, please read more about this topic at our other Show Me the Law blogs for further description and elucidation. Or contact an attorney for advice specific to your special situation and legal matter.
Bryan C. Edwards is a St. Charles DWI Lawyer and practices criminal defense law across the St. Louis metro area, including St. Charles County, St. Louis City and St. Louis County with a consortium of attorneys around the state of Missouri at www.showmelawyergroup.com.