Saturday, April 30, 2011

Texting and Driving in Missouri... Is it legal? Can I get in trouble? Will I get caught?

Currently texting and driving is only illegal for persons 21 years of age and under. However, new legislation recently was passed, by an overwhelming majority, through the Missouri House of Representatives that would make texting and driving illegal for everyone, exceptions noted. What does this mean? While the Senate still must pass the legislation, it may mean that our roads will soon be safer. Safety issues aside though, how do you enforce legislation like this, and what will be the actual impact on citizens?

We have all been driving down the road and pulled up next to that person barely paying attention to their driving as they text vigorously on their phones. I usually give them a little honk to say hello. And while an officer viewing the crime of texting and driving would certainly be enough, rarely will they get that opportunity. The fact of the matter is, that all of us, whether guilty of a crime or not, straighten up when the law is around. The simple sight of an officer in your rear view mirror is enough to make you extra vigilant in your driving. Likewise, people put their phones away and do their best to keep it between the mustard and the mayonnaise. But once that officer is gone, back to the phone they go, with little concern for the law.

Legislation such as this is almost impossible to enforce. The evidence at trial is almost always he said she said testimony and the officer generally will win that battle. That being said, how do I beat a texting and driving ticket at trial? The safest bet is to make sure that you always have someone with you who can testify t such. While an officer has no motivation to lie, two people's testimony is almost always more powerful and the two individuals in the vehicle would certainly have more knowledge on the matter. But even further proof would be in the phone records themselves. Make sure that the officer notes the time of not only the stop, but the alleged law violation. If your phone company has done their job then you could show easily that you were not texting at the time of the stop.

Whichever courses of action or strategy you decide to take remember to always contact an attorney to assist you.

The choice of an attorney is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Should I testify at trial?
Mark Twain once said, "If you tell the truth you won’t have to remember anything." Never is this so true than in the Court of law. I have had an unusually high number of trials lately; most cases simply never get that far. However, with trials comes the inevitable struggle over truth. The most amusing aspect being those people who have decided to lie, but could not commit to it. There is a special place in the Guinness book of idiots for those people, the cover.

Lying never really gets you what you want. At best it gives you a lifetime of worry and covering your tracks. So why is it that we decide to lie so often? Many believe it to be compulsive while some point the finger at shame. I think people are just scared. Scared of what might happen, of what people might think, of what Judges might rule. While these concerns are legitimate it doesn't justify the end.

No matter your situation I ask that you consider your words. Quick responses aren’t always necessary, and many times end up in disaster. Hold tight to the idea that a person is only as good as their word, and try to be the best you can. I give my client's three (3) rules to follow when testifying in Court. (1) Answer only what's asked. The more you talk, the more you lie, and you shouldn’t assume you know the direction the attorney is taking you. (2) Don't play games. The simple truth is that this is a game you can’t afford to lose, and knowing that the attorney has all the rules and you don't make that prospect just too risky. Finally, and most importantly, (3) always tell the truth. A person who tells the truth never has to remember the facts, and most often, that’s why you are there. Those little hesitations in your voice are what gives it away, so make sure to be confident in your answer. There is nothing worse than telling the truth, and no one believing you.

To that end, I feel like I can learn more about a person in a trial than I could in any other setting. Not because of what they tell me, but rather what they don’t tell me. The truth is sometimes ugly, but it is always better than a lie.

Joel Harris is an Attorney in Nixa, MO and serves the Springfield area. He engages in a variety of different legal activities including Divorce & Custody, Criminal Law, Traffic & DWI, and Auto accidents.

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