When you were younger, you got a DWI after drinking at a night out with friends. Now, you’re several years older and know how important it is to drive while sober. Unfortunately, your designated driver had too much to drink themselves, and you believed you were sober enough to get everyone home safely.

During the drive, an officer stopped you. They claimed you kept crossing the center line. Now, you’re facing trouble and could be looking at a DWI in the future.

Could you be facing a felony DWI?

A felony DWI is much more serious than a misdemeanor DWI. A felony charge is a criminal matter. Normally, felony charges are reserved for those who have multiple DWI convictions in their past or who have harmed someone as a result of their actions.

Missouri law states that a driver is considered impaired when their blood alcohol content reaches .08%. At that point, no other evidence is needed to support a DWI charge. If you have a BAC of .15% or higher, then you can face aggravated DWI charges.

Are all DWIs felonies in Missouri?

No. Missouri’s DWI laws allow for varying criminal penalties based on BAC levels and the number of times that people have been convicted in the past. For a first-time DWI, for example, it’s usually classed as a Class B misdemeanor. For a Class B misdemeanor, the maximum jail sentence is six months, and fines can range up to $500.

A third-offense DWI is where they start to become felonious charges. A third offense is for “persistent” offenders and results in a Class D felony. Fourth offenses lead to Class C felony charges, and fifth offenses (or more) are Class B felonies.

Keep in mind that the DWI charge itself may not be the only charges you face. For instance, Missouri sees involuntary manslaughter as a felony, so if you kill someone accidentally while driving drunk, you could face that felony on top of any other charges.

Not all DWIs will lead to felony charges, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t protect yourself as if they could. There are a string of life-changing consequences that could begin for you after a conviction. It’s smart to fight any allegations of being intoxicated behind the wheel, because a conviction can have a lasting impact on your life. You may want to reach out to an attorney after an arrest, so that you don’t say or do anything that could aid in a conviction.