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Robert A. Ciuffa, Attorney at Law
9306 Olive Boulevard
Saint Louis, MO 63132
Phone: 314-219-1906
Toll Free: 888-745-2635
Fax: 314-997-4324
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St. Louis Traffic Violations Attorney

Over the last twenty years, the federal government has not only expanded funding of highway development but has used its considerable financial leverage to persuade States to increase enforcement of traffic laws. This is actually a spin off of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) drive to reduce highway fatalities, an excellent budget justifier for this political agency. Cash strapped States and municipalities simply won't turn away from this easy money available from Uncle Sam.

Notable in this trend is the expansion of county and city municipal courts throughout Missouri. For example, St. Louis County, Jefferson County, and St. Charles County each have their own "county" municipal courts. Indeed, the majority of the 96 cities within St. Louis County have their own municipal courts dedicated to enforcing their traffic laws. Even the federal government has gotten into the picture by increasing its prosecution of traffic offenses occurring on federal property such as military bases, national parks, etc. Whatever the reasons it is clear that the driver is subject to greater and greater law enforcement scrutiny.

I have and continue to represent people charged in these municipal courts. Experience with these diverse jurisdictions is essential to achieving favorable results for the accused. All moving violations have adverse consequences a person's drivers license and to their auto insurance.

The Missouri Department of Revenue assesses "points" against the offender's driver's license for each reported conviction of a moving violation. Accumulation of enough points results in a loss of the driver's license. For example, if eight points are accumulated within an eighteen (18) month span then that driver's license is suspended for a minimum of thirty (30) days; if twelve points are accumulated within a twelve (12) month period, that license is lost for a year. Getting the license back presents a larger set of problems. Special insurance filings, reinstatements fees, and in some instances completion of certain programs are required before licenses can be reinstated. Navigation

through this patchwork system requires a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer to keep the driver lawfully on the road in a cost effective manner.

Compounding the hazards for the driver is the fact that the law punishes anyone driving while their license is suspended or revoked. Part of the punishment in these instances is a fine and a minimum mandatory jail sentence. The other part is the assessment of enough points against the driver's license to cause its loss for an additional year. In fact if enough of theses convictions occur over the driver's history Driving While Suspended/Revoked can be charges as a felony carrying sentences to the penitentiary and the loss of driving privileges.

Certain other traffic offenses carry suspension or revocation of the driver's license upon conviction. Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Hit and Run), DWI/DUI ( by alcohol or drugs including prescription medicines) and Vehicular Manslaughter are such traffic offenses. Leaving the Scene (Hit and Run) and DWI/DUI can be charged as either misdemeanors or as felonies. While DWI/DUI requires a prior offense history to be charged as a felony, Leaving the Scene of an Accident (hit and run) can be charges as a misdemeanor or felony at the discretion of the prosecuting authorities. No matter if it's a misdemeanor or felony most courts seriously consider jail as a sentencing possibility. The actual factual circumstances bear significantly on the sentencing decisions. The defense lawyer's presentation of the factual circumstances is essential to securing a favorable result for the accused driver.

Vehicular Manslaughter presents a host of troubling issues and complicating problems for the accused driver. If a death occurs in a vehicle accident (single or multiple vehicles) manslaughter is almost immediately considered by law enforcement. Prosecuting officials determine whether a driver was criminally negligent and whether the criminal negligence caused the accident and hence the homicide.

Criminal negligence is not ordinary negligence but that sort of negligent behavior where death is a reasonably foreseeable consequence. For example, having a blood/alcohol level over the legal limit (.08% mg/ml) is not enough by itself to establish criminal negligence. However, weaving into oncoming traffic with a high blood/alcohol level probably is enough. As you can see the beliefs, biases, and portrayals by police and witnesses, not to mention the driver's own statements, bear heavily on both the initiation of the charge of Vehicular Manslaughter and its successful prosecution. This offense is always a felony carrying both penitentiary sentence and a five (5) year loss of driving privilege.

In Missouri the loss of driving privilege precipitated by a felony conviction prohibits the convicted driver from securing a hardship or limited driver's license. The entire period of loss must expire before the convicted driver can attempt to get his license restored. This restoration is not automatic and requires that the driver adhere to a defined procedure.

The offenses of Careless and Reckless Driving or Careless and Imprudent Driving is another offense is related traffic offense misdemeanor that generally carries the assessment of two (2) points against one's drivers license. This offense carries no more than one (1) year as a maximum jail sentence and/or a maximum fine it presents other problems for the driver. Most prosecuting officials view this charge as arising from road rage, other dangerous behavior, and/or a failed DWI prosecution. Historically aborted DWI/DUI cases were plea-bargained or negotiated to a Careless and Reckless or Careless and Imprudent Driving charge. Consequently this charge is often dealt with harshly absent effective advocacy on behalf of the accused driver. There is no doubt that the expanded use of cell phones and texting while driving provide a factual basis for the expansion of prosecutions for Careless and Reckless/Careless and Imprudent Driving,

In some instances an angry (or poorly trained) police officer will issue this ticket simply because the driver was involved in a collision. The occurrence of an accident does not, in and of itself, establish that the driver at fault drove in a Careless and Reckless/Imprudent manner. This offense requires proof that likely injury to person or property was disregarded by the driver.

Ordinary speeding, Red light, Stop Sign, Lane usage and Insurance tickets all carry points assessed against the driver's license. They are all moving violations occurring during the operation of the vehicle. The points assessed range from one (1) point for a municipal Stop Sign to 3 points for a speeding ticket under state statute. Although seemly innocuous, the driver's insurance company uses these points (convictions) to determine the driver's insurance rates. For younger drivers, a speeding conviction has prompted insurance companies to drop coverage, much to the dismay of the young driver's parents. Avoiding convictions of these moving violations (speeding, red light, stop sign, lane usage, improper turn, insurance, and etc.) makes good financial sense. These offenses still require evidentiary proof by the prosecutor and this compliance with the law is precisely where a defense lawyers skill and training lead to the avoidance of a conviction.

Another complication with every moving violation is the occurrence of an accident. A moving violation charged out of a vehicle accident subjects the accused driver to the assessment of an additional two (2) points over and above the points normally carried by that ticket. Thus, the driver who gets a speeding ticket by a State Trooper from an accident faces five (5) points against his license; three (3) points for the state statute speeding plus two (2) points enhancement for the accident. The points are over and above any fine or jail sentence imposed by a court and are assessed by the Drivers License Bureau after the conviction is entered. Any accident underlying any traffic citation portends of serious and lasting consequences not the least of which are the attendant insurance issues.

I undertake every manner of traffic charges for my clients and I will gladly discuss your particular ticket situation or drivers license issue.

Saint Louis attorney, Robert A. Ciuffa, represents people throughout the metropolitan St. Louis region, in communities such as: St. Francois County, Jefferson County, Lincoln County, Madison County, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, the City of St. Louis, Ballwin, Bel-Nor, Bel-Ridge, Bella Villa, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Bellerive Acres, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Breckenridge Hills, Brentwood, Bridgeton, Calverton Park, Charlack, Chesterfield, Clayton, Cool Valley, Country Club Hills, Crestwood, Creve Coeur, Des Peres, Ellisville, Eureka, Fenton, Ferguson, Florissant, Frontenac, Glendale, Hazelwood, Kirkwood, Ladue, Manchester, Maplewood, Marlborough, Maryland Heights, Normandy, Olivette, Overland Park, Pacific, Pine Lawn, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, St. George, St. John, Shrewsbury, Sunset Hills, Town and Country, University City, Uplands Park, Valley Park, Velda Village, Vinita Park, Warson Woods, Woodson Terrace, the City of St. Charles, St. Peters, O'Fallon, Wentzville, Leadington, Park Hills, Hillsboro, and Byrnes Mill.