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How to avoid drunk driving during spring break

Every year, there is an increased push throughout Missouri and the rest of America to combat drunk driving during spring break. Spring break usually means that more young people are vacationing and on the road. Drinking is often involved, and there is a high probability of someone getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

However, getting behind the wheel while drunk on spring break doesn't have to be inevitable. There are steps that one can take to protect themselves from potential dangers.

Bill increases penalties for fentanyl, GHB possession

One bill in the Missouri state legislature aims to increase penalties for certain drug charges. According to the bill, possession or distribution of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate, and some drugs classified as "date-rape drugs" would be classified as first- or second-degree felonies. The legislation would also apply to fentanyl derivatives such as carfentanil. As a result, people could face prison sentences of three years to life if convicted on these charges.

To some extent, the bill comes in response to the growing number of fatal overdoses associated with the opiate crisis. In 2017, over 950 people in Missouri died of opioid overdoses, and many of these deaths have been associated with fentanyl. Fentanyl is often combined with other opiate drugs such as heroin in order to enhance its potency, but it can be particularly dangerous if users do not know the concentration of fentanyl in their drugs. One legislator said that fentanyl dealing has generally been prosecuted under current laws, as it is typically combined with heroin. However, she said that fentanyl on its own is not yet classified as a controlled substance, and it is being sold for combination with other drugs.

What to know about involuntary manslaughter charges

If someone is accidentally killed in Missouri, it could be labeled as involuntary manslaughter. It could also be referred to as criminally negligent homicide. A person could also face such a charge if he or she was in the act of committing another crime and an individual was killed as a result. For example, a person who drives a car while under the influence of alcohol may be charged with involuntary manslaughter if an accident results in someone else's death.

The same could be true if a person is texting and driving prior to causing an accident that results in a person's death. Those who kill another person while operating a boat or car while drunk will be charged with first degree involuntary manslaughter. All other cases will result in a second degree charge. Both can be considered felonies, and it is possible to spend up to 15 years in prison on a first degree involuntary manslaughter charge.

How language and dialect can influence criminal cases

Prisons and jails in Missouri and around the country have a disproportionately high number of black inmates. Civil rights groups say that this is the result of systemic racism in the criminal justice system and have referred to the mass incarceration of African-Americans as the new Jim Crow, but there are situations where the unfair treatment black defendants receive is unintentional rather than malicious.

A study scheduled to be published in the academic journal Language discusses how the way black defendants speak can be difficult for white transcribers and stenographers to understand, and it also reveals that seemingly innocuous mistakes can completely change the meaning of a sentence. Researchers found that transcribers could only paraphrase one in three sentences spoken by African-Americans correctly, and they made errors 40 percent of the time.

Right to an attorney heads to state Supreme Court

Missouri – which has one of the worst records for funding public defenders in the country – will see its public defender system on trial in front of the state Supreme Court.

At issue is decades of underfunding by state lawmakers which causes public defenders to take on three to four times the number of indigent clients than recommended. The situation effectively means poor people who face trial in Missouri have no Sixth Amendment rights.

Federal officers can't force people to unlock their iPhone

Federal officers can't force people to unlock their iPhone with biometrics, such as finger or face access, according to a recent ruling from the U.S. District Court in Northern California. Previously, the feds were allowed to force this kind of entry while not being allowed to force an individual to reveal a password. This new decision treats all logins as equal and may be a landmark case in terms of privacy rights. The ruling applies to federal officers operating in Missouri and all states throughout the country.

The case involved in this ruling involved a Facebook extortion crime where the police wanted to open up any phone found during the search of properties. Even though the investigators showed probable cause for searching, they didn't have the power to open all devices by forcing user input. One judge ruled that the request was overly broad because it was not limited to any particular person or device.

Panel issues recommendations to make roads safer

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine offered a variety of ways to keep roads throughout Missouri and the rest of America safer. One of those suggestions was to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit to .05 percent from the current .08 percent. Other recommendations included raising alcohol taxes and making alcohol harder to get. This could be done by limiting where and when it could be sold to customers.

Putting limits on how alcohol could be marketed may also have an impact on society's drinking habits. Finally, the report says that more should be done to make sure that those who are intoxicated or are under 21 are not served. According to the Distilled Spirits Council, many of these measures will have little impact on traffic safety. The group specifically singled out the idea to reduce the blood alcohol threshold to .05 percent.

What if the police don’t read your rights?

On TV, when the police arrest someone, the officer will start off by saying, "You are under arrest, you have the right to remain silent..." Most of us know that a police officer reading someone their rights is important, but what happens if they don't?

 

Understanding what happens during a person's first DUI arrest

For drivers in Missouri, getting their first DUI can be an overwhelming and terrifying experience. When a person is charged with a DUI, it means that they are being accused of driving while being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In many cases, a person could expect to be arrested and serve some jail time. Depending on the circumstances, a judge may allow an individual to leave jail after they have paid bail. Later, they may need to go to court for a hearing that may result in them losing their license, paying fines, or spending additional time in jail.

Stress and culture may explain veteran drinking rates

Binge drinking and drunk driving is having a significant impact on veterans in Missouri and throughout the country. In 2016, the percentage of veterans who drove while under the influence of alcohol was 2.5 percent according to a study by the American Addiction Centers. That was a 60 percent increase from 2014, and male veterans were more likely to drive drunk than female veterans. California, Kentucky and Washington, D.C., were the three states where this was most likely to happen.

One of the reasons that veterans seem to be drinking more in recent years has to do with stress and the impact of PTSD. Officially, up to 20 percent of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD. However, the actual number could be as high as 30 percent. In some cases, veterans drink alcohol in an effort to self-medicate even though that is likely to make the problem worse.

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I don't stop working just because it's after 5 p.m. My clients can always reach me after hours and on weekends. I also visit clients in jail when necessary. I keep my rates affordable because I know, when facing a criminal charge, you can't afford not to have a criminal defense lawyer. Contact me, criminal defense attorney Andrew Christie, today at 816-533-3456 to schedule a free consultation.

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