St. Peters, MO, (Law Firm Newswire) September 11, 2014 - A jury in Greene County has found a Springfield man guilty of driving while intoxicated, considering his refusals to provide a breath sample to police among the evidence.
The accused, Steven Souter, hit another vehicle with his truck at a red light and then refused police requests for field sobriety tests and breath samples. Under Missouri law, a driver’s refusal to provide a blood, breath, saliva or urine sample to the police can be presented to a jury or judge as evidence of intoxication.
“The decision to take or to refuse a breathalyzer is complicated in Missouri, with numerous consequences either way,” remarked Charlie James, a Missouri DWI attorney not associated with the case. “The best decision is unique to the person and his or her legal history, but this case certainly illustrates one of the most serious potential ramifications of a refusal.”
The jury referred to a wide range of facts about the case in order to reach its decision. The jury was also asked to deliver a sentencing recommendation, hearing additional evidence after delivering the guilty verdict. In this case, the jury recommended the maximum sentence of a $500 fine in addition to six months in county jail.
James added, “Many Missouri drivers do not realize that once a police officer asks for consent to a chemical test, the driver is allowed 20 minutes to call or consult with an attorney. Because of the serious legal consequences of the decision, all drivers should try to contact an attorney for advice if possible.” He noted that if drivers are unable to reach an attorney within the 20 minute window, they are not allowed to delay their decision further.
The case in question is State of Missouri v. Steven R. Souter, 1331-CR06315-01, in the 31st Judicial Circuit Court.
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