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DWI Case Law


Disclaimer: ANYONE using this page as a legal resource should Shepardize the cases to see if there has been legal precedent or statutes which override the proposition that the cases below stands for. Missouri DWI Attorney Ryan M. Paulus specifically disclaims any liability resulting from the use of the material provided herein. This information is provided as a service to help drivers and attorneys to identify issues that may arise in the course of a DWI case.


Johnson v. DOR - driver submitted to breath test and passed, but refused to submit to urine test. DOR suspended his license for refusal to submit to the test. Driver appealed. Western District Court of Appeals held that suspension of license was valid.

Giesler v. DOR - If DOR proves that a driver refused a test, it does not matter that the driver does not remember refusing to submit to a urine sample. DOR must prove that the driver refused, not that the driver knowingly refused.

Christensen v. DOR - driver requested time to consult with an attorney, but then used the time for bathroom activities. His refusal of the test was upheld.

Freeman v. DOR - providing an incomplete breath sample is a refusal.

Gonzalez v. DOR - driver was given the instructions for the breath test in English, but said he did not understand them. He was then given the instructions in Spanish, but refused the test. The Court held that he did not claim lack of understanding after the Spanish instructions were given, therefore he was held to have refused the test.

Burk v. DOR - When reviewing a revocation of driving privileges for refusal to submit to a chemical test the trial court's review is limited to: 1) Whether petitioner was arrested, 2) Whether officer had reasonable grounds for believing the petitioner was intoxicated, and 3) Whether the petitioner refused to submit to a test. RSMo. 577.041 does not require that a properly qualified officer was available to administer the test.

Phillips v. Wilson - driver is not allowed to withdraw a refusal of breath test and demand a test at a later time.

Laney v. DOR - just because a driver did not understand the police officer's reading of Missouri's Implied Consent law did not mean that he did not refuse. Instead, the driver must prove that he clearly communicated his lack of understanding and was denied clarification.

State of Missouri v. Smith - the state may get a search warrant in order to obtain a blood sample regardless of whether driver refuses to voluntarily submit to the breath test.

Constitutional/Jurisdictional Issues

Reed v. DOR - Exclusionary Rule - driver was arrested for DWI after an accident. The law required the police officer to test the driver within 90 minutes of the accident in order for the breath test to be admissible in court. The police officer did not test within the required time frame. The breath test was admissible against the driver in the administrative hearing, and was allowed as evidence to suspend his driver's license.

Garriott v. DOR - Exclusionary Rule - It is irrelevant whether car stop was illegal for administrative actions on driver's license as the exclusionary rule applies to criminal, not civil, actions.

State of Missouri v. Hancock - Due Process & Equal Protection - the enhancement penalty law for repeat DWI offenders does not violate the equal protection or due process provisions of the constitution.

McCarthy v. DOR - Officer read Miranda warning to driver after reading her the Missouri's Implied Consent law. The Court held that it is irrelevant when the Miranda warnings were read as it does not affect whether the officer had reasonable ground to believe that the driver was intoxicated nor propriety of arrest.

Roberson v. DOR - Drug Court Commissioner was without jurisdiction to hear appeal de novo on driver's license revocation.

Breath Machine Irregularities

Bozarth v. DOR - the police officer pressed the NV button on the breath machine which made the machine read a smaller sample of air than would normally would be required. The DOR did not admit any evidence that the smaller sample of air was scientifically valid. Therefore, the driver won reinstatement of his license.

Spinner v. DOR - the police officer pressed the NV button on the breath machine which made the machine read a smaller sample of air than would normally be required. In this case, however, the DOR introduced expert testimony which did provide scientifically valid evidence that the test results were valid. Therefore, the driver's license was suspended.

Middlemas v. DOR - driver testified he chewed gum prior to breath test, but did not introduce evidence that doing so effected the results. His license suspension was upheld.

Coyle v. DOR - The observation period of prior to a breath test must be strictly adhered to.

Vernon v. DOR - A breath testing machine may provide variances during maintenance checks, but not during the actual test of a driver. If the machine does malfunction during an actual test, then the test results are invalid.

Lumsden v. DOR - driver told testing officer that he had not taken any medications prior to the test. The driver then testified that he had secretly concealed a Rolaids in his mouth during the test. The court held that by deceiving the testing officer the driver waived his attack on the test results as invalid because the testing protocol was not followed.

Yarsulik v. DOR - the DOR must prove that driver wrongfully quit blowing into machine, not just that he quit blowing, in order to support case of refusal to submit to test.

Nace v. DOR - the DOR presented prima facie case that driver refused to submit to the breath test, but driver rebutted DOR's case by showing she was incoherent at the time of request.

Conviction on less that .08

State of Missouri v. Adams - driver was convicted of DWI at .061 BAC. The Court held that the .08 is not required as long as other evidence shows intoxication.

Consultation with Lawyer

Webb v. DOR - A driver must ask to call a lawyer before law requiring 20 minute waiting period is triggered. License suspension held valid.

Ruth v. DOR - a driver's delay in taking the breath test so that she can think about whether to submit is a refusal if such delay is not based on a request for counsel.

Murphy v. DOR - Driver asked to consult with attorney and was allowed 20 minute waiting period to do so. Driver did not consult attorney, and then attempted to delay taking the test. The delay was considered a refusal.

Grounds for car stop

State of Missouri v. Garriott - A police officer does not have to observe a traffic violation in order to have reason to stop a driver. All the officer needs is unusual operation. In this case, the driver drove away after being rear-ended.

City of Springfield v. Hampton - A police officer checked a motorist with radar and stopped him for speeding. The driver later proved that the radar was not properly working at the time of the stop. The Court held that the arrest for DWI was valid as the police officer had a reasonable suspicion that the driver was committing a traffic violation at the time of the stop regardless of whether he actually was.

Cases related to operation of motor vehicle

Missouri v. Laplante - a minibike is a motor vehicle for purposes of the DWI statute.

Covert v. DOR - a golf cart is a motor vehicle for purposes of the DWI statute.

Cox v. DOR - sleeping behind the wheel of a motionless, but running, auto is operating for the purposes of Missouri DWI law.

Herr v. DOR - coasting an out of gas car downhill is operating within the definition of Missouri DWI law.

Enhancement cases

Carlson v. DOR - If a person has an out-of-state DWI conviction, and Missouri would have assessed points to the driver's license for that conviction, then the State may use such conviction for enhancement purposes.

Proof Issue Cases

Kisker v. DOR - expert testimony on the driver's metabolism curve was sufficient to rebut the DOR's case for suspending the driver's license.

Covert v. DOR - any roadway which is used by the public is a public highway for statutory construction purposes regardless of who owns the roadway.

Singleton v. DOR - Driver provided expert testimony that his BAC was not the .156 that the breath test displayed, but did not introduce evidence it was below .08, therefore driver's license was suspended.

Verdoorn v. DOR - the DOR has the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence to show that the driver drove while intoxicated, the driver's burden is one of production, not persuasion.

Probable Cause/Reasonable Suspicion Issues

State of Missouri v. Ball - passing two out of three field sobriety tests does not necessarily outweigh .143 breath test for purposes of DWI conviction.

State of Missouri v. Kickham - failure of field sobriety tests are not required in order to sustain a conviction for DWI.

Edmisten v. DOR - field sobriety tests are not required to arrest for DWI if other factors indicate intoxication.

State of Missouri v. School - A driver does not violate Missouri's "Failed to drive on the right side of the roadway" statute by driving off the right side of the roadway.

State of Missouri v. Schmutz - officer must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity not an inarticulate hunch in order to stop driver for DWI.

Surber v. DOR - Petitions for reinstatement of driving privileges must be filed within proper time, else trial court loses jurisdiction to hear the case.

Bain v. DOR - just because defendant was the only person present in a wrecked van when the officer arrived at the scene does not mean that he was the driver. The Court held that the officer did not have probable cause for arrest.

Within these pages you will find information about:

  1. How officers identify potential Missouri DWI arrestees
  2. Fifteen ways we defend a Missouri DWI charge
  3. How to protect yourself if you ever are stopped for Missouri DWI
  4. Criminal penalties of a Missouri DWI conviction
  5. Information about Missouri DWI driver's license suspensions
  6. Information about Missouri DWI Field Sobriety Tests
  7. Information on how Missouri Courts rule on DWI law
  8. Information on how Frequently ask DWI questions
  9. Information on DWI law generally
  10. A breif overview of Missouri DWI's
  11. Our Legal Disclaimer
  12. Please visit our Law Firm Website at www.pauluslawfirm.com










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