Missouri DWI Laws
The legal drinking age is 21 in the state of Missouri. However, many people drink alcohol well before their 21st birthday. It’s a crime to consume alcohol before reaching the legal drinking age, and it’s a far more serious crime to get behind the wheel after doing it. Here’s a look at the consequences of driving while intoxicated offense for underage drivers in the state of Missouri.
The Legal Limit for Underage Drivers in Missouri
The legal limit for drivers that are over the age of 21 is 0.08%. However, it is different for drivers that are underage. An underage driver can face legal consequences if their BAC is above 0.02%. Because this is so low, it doesn’t take much alcohol to raise an underage driver’s BAC above this level. However, it’s possible that the underage driver will be charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol instead of DWI if their BAC is below 0.08%.
Driver’s License Suspension After Missouri DWI
An underage driver who is arrested for driving while intoxicated will face an immediate suspension or revocation of their driving privileges. The length of the suspension or revocation will depend on a number of circumstances, including the underage driver’s criminal record. For example, first-time underage DWI offenders may have their license suspended for a period of up to 90 days, whereas repeat offenders could face longer suspensions or revocations.
Delayed Driver’s License After Driving While Intoxicated in Missouri
Teens can obtain a driver’s permit when they turn 15 years old and an intermediate license once they are 16 years old. But, the law states that drivers must not have been convicted of any alcohol-related offense over the last 12 months in order to obtain an intermediate license. This means if a driver with a driver’s permit is convicted of underage DWI, he cannot obtain his intermediate license until 12 months have passed since his conviction.
Incarceration for Drinking and Driving in Missouri
Any underage driver who is convicted of driving while intoxicated in Missouri can face possible jail time. First-time underage driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenders face a maximum of six months behind bars, but repeat offenders can face longer sentences. It’s not common for a judge to sentence a first-time offender to six months in jail, but it is a real possibility that every defendant in this situation should prepare for just in case.
Fines for MO DWI (Driving While Intoxicated)
Being convicted of a Missouri DWI as an underage driver can also lead to substantial fines. The judge presiding over your case has the authority to impose fines of up to $500 for first-time offenders and more than $1,000 for repeat offenders.
Have you been charged with DWI for underage drivers? If so, contact the attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center to get you free from the charges of the alcohol-related traffic offense. Our experienced DWI attorney will aggressively defend your rights and protect your freedom.
Driving While Intoxicated Missouri
Under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 577.012, individuals commit the offense of driving with excessive blood alcohol content (BAC) if their BAC measures 0.08% or more. If the driver is operating a commercial vehicle, then the BAC limit for this offense falls to 0.04% or more. This offense is strictly based on BAC levels, not on any type of impairment. In other words, if you drive with a BAC over the legal limit, you violate this law, even if the level of alcohol has absolutely no impact on your physical or mental ability to drive safely. On the basis of this, a law enforcement officer will be able to arrest you.
For a first offense of driving with excessive BAC, the charge is a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If you have prior offenses, the charges can be higher; the more prior offenses you have, the higher the resulting charges and potential penalties. Moreover, the offender will have to complete a DWI court program to change his habits. Additionally, if driving with excessive BAC causes injuries or death to another, the charges and penalties become far more severe.
On the other hand, driving while intoxicated (DWI) occurs pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. § 577.010 when you operate a motor vehicle in an intoxicated condition. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 577.001 provides that a person is intoxicated whenever he or she is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance or drug, or a combination of both. This offense may occur regardless of the person’s BAC level, as there is no minimum BAC level needed to prove the offense.
A first DWI conviction also is a Class B misdemeanor under Missouri law, as is the case with driving with excessive BAC charges. The charges and penalties for a DWI conviction increase if you have prior convictions or if the offense results in bodily injuries or death to others.
Given these circumstances, consulting with an experienced DWI defense lawyer in Missouri can be key to your ability to avoid the potentially harsh consequence of the alcohol-related driving offense. The attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center have handled the legal representation of countless individuals in DWI, DUI for drugs or medication, and traffic tickets and points cases. We want to help you avoid as many of the repercussions of a criminal record as possible.
What’s the Difference Between MO DUI and DWI
Under Missouri law, there is no real difference between DUI, or driving under the influence, and DWI, or driving while intoxicated. While some states make them separate crimes with different standards of proof, Missouri DWI laws generally refer to related offenses collectively as driving while intoxicated (DWI). This offense occurs when individuals operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater, driving while intoxicated, or driving with any amount of an intoxicating substance in their systems. These substances can include controlled substances, prescription medicines, or even over-the-counter medicines in some circumstances.
Driving while intoxicated, whether it involves alcohol or drugs, normally is a Class B misdemeanor under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 577.010, which can result in a six-month jail sentence. However, certain aggravating factors can cause a DWI offense to result in a Class A misdemeanor or a felony charge. For example, the offense becomes a Class A misdemeanor if the accused has a prior driving while intoxicated conviction or if the accused had a passenger under the age of 17 in the vehicle at the time of the offense; a conviction on a Class A misdemeanor can result in up to one year in jail. As the number of prior convictions increases, or if the offense resulted in bodily injury or death to another, the levels of the felony offenses, along with the potential penalties, increase, as well.
There also are administrative consequences of a DWI arrest through the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR). Driving with an excessive BAC will result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license for 90 days; this period of administrative suspension will last for one year if you refuse to take a blood or breath test to measure BAC and also includes substance abuse treatment. These administrative penalties also increase as you accrue more DWI convictions on your record. When you are charged with any type of DWI or alcohol-related offense, you will need an experienced DWI Attorneys in KC Mo to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. We are here to look at the facts of your case, explore your options, and build the strongest defense possible on your behalf.
What to Expect at a DUI Arraignment (DWI in Missouri)
An arraignment is a hearing that takes place shortly after you are arrested for a DWI offense in Missouri. Unlike Kansas, Missouri uses the term ‘driving while intoxicated’ instead of DUI (driving under the influence). This is the first time you will need to appear before a judge in court, so it can be a nerve-wracking experience. It’s best to prepare by learning what to expect during an arraignment for DWI. Here’s what you need to know:
Formal Presentation of the Charges
At this point in the process, it’s not hard to figure out that you are being accused of drunk driving. But, the arraignment is the first time that you are formally presented with the criminal charges being filed against you. The judge will read each charge aloud and ask you to confirm that you understand the crimes that you are accused of committing.
Enter A Plea
During the arraignment, the defendant is expected to enter a plea to each criminal charge. The defendant has the option of pleading guilty, not guilty, or not guilty by reason of insanity. Pleading guilty means taking responsibility and accepting the consequences of committing the crime. If you enter this plea, the case will move straight into the sentencing phase. However, if you plead not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity, the case will go to trial.
It’s important to seek an attorney’s advice before formally entering a plea. An attorney can clearly explain each option and how it will affect your future. An attorney can also review the details of your case and tell you if it is in your best interests to go to trial and fight for your freedom. Sometimes, an attorney can also negotiate with the prosecution to arrange a plea that allows you to avoid serious consequences in exchange for pleading guilty to a driving while intoxicated offense.
The plea that you enter during your arraignment can affect the rest of your life, so it’s best to speak to an attorney instead of making this decision alone.
At the end of the arraignment, the judge will discuss the next steps that will take place in the defendant’s case. If the defendant has entered a not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity plea, the judge will set a tentative trial date. He will work with the defense and prosecution when setting this date to ensure both sides are satisfied with the decision.
Don’t attend an arraignment hearing without an attorney from The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center by your side. Let our experienced criminal defense attorneys advise you prior to the arraignment and protect your rights during
Missouri DWI Law Changes: Drugs and DWI
DWI charges are often associated with drunk driving. It’s true that driving while the intoxicated or drugged condition can lead to an arrest, but alcohol is not the only substance that can lead to DUI charges. The law states that a driver commits DWI if he operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated condition. This means a driver can also face DUI charges for being under the influence of drugs-even for legal prescription and over-the-counter medication.
The Meaning of “Intoxicated Condition”
The key phrase in Missouri’s DWI statute is “intoxicated condition.” This phrase gives law enforcement the right to arrest a driver for DWI if they believe the driver is intoxicated and unable to safely operate a vehicle. It doesn’t matter whether the intoxication was caused by alcohol, illegal drugs, legally prescribed medications, or OTC medications-all that matters is the driver’s condition.
How Prescription or OTC Medication Can Lead to DWI Charges
Prescription and OTC medications can cause a number of different side effects that impact your ability to safely operate a vehicle. For example, a sleeping pill can cause extreme grogginess and fatigue that is still present even after a good night of sleep. Pain medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications can all affect a driver’s judgment and reaction time. Even a medication as seemingly harmless as an antihistamine can cause drowsiness and make it difficult to react to sudden changes in your environment.
These side effects can occur even when you have obtained the medication legally and taken the appropriate dosage. If the side effects impact your ability to drive, it’s possible that you will be charged with DWI.
Defending Drugged Driving Charges
DWI is a highly defensible charge, but it is important to note that simply proving the medication was legally prescribed or purchased will not clear your name. You will need an attorney to craft a unique defense strategy that proves you were not in an intoxicated or impaired condition at the time of your arrest.
The Consequences of Drugged Driving
The penalties for a DWI conviction are serious-even if you were only under the influence of a prescription or OTC medication when you were arrested. Driving while intoxicated Missouri offenders who are convicted can face possible jail time, fines, license suspension or revocation, probation, mandatory enrollment in DWI school, and a number of other consequences.
Have you been accused of drugged driving? If so, the attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center can help. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have years of experience in helping clients reach favorable outcomes in complex driving while intoxicated cases.
If you want to discuss your case or need legal advice, feel free to give us a call and book a free consultation. Our attorneys will not only evaluate your case but also provide you with the best possible legal solution. Feel free to submit our contact form or visit our law office.
Missouri DWI Laws 2015: Out of State DWI
If you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in a state other than the one in which you live, that arrest could very well follow you back to your home state. Most states, including Missouri, participate in the Driver License Compact and/or the Nonresident Violator Compact, which are interstate agreements that facilitate contact between states to share driving records and driving-related arrests in each state. While this process is not automatic, it commonly does happen among states who are members of the agreement.
For residents of Missouri, this means that if they commit an out-of-state DUI offense, Missouri will treat their DUI convictions as if they had been MO convictions. Specifically, eight points will be assessed to your license by DOR, just as if you had been convicted of a Missouri DWI. You also will be subject to a 90-day license suspension; after serving 30 days of the suspension, you will become entitled to limited driving privileges, just as if you received a first DWI offense in Missouri. When you have your license suspended, you will have to meet the same criteria to have your license reinstated as if you had been convicted of driving while intoxicated.
Additionally, for the purposes of counting prior DWI or alcohol-related driving offenses, the prosecution may be able to consider an out-of-state DUI in determining whether to seek sentence or charge enhancements based on prior convictions. In other words, if you have prior DWI convictions both in Missouri and Illinois, a new DWI charge might end up being your third conviction, not your second conviction, for the purposes of determining the level of the charge that you will be facing and the potential penalties. The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center is a law firm focusing on DWI defense as well as expungements.
So, if you have been charged with a DWI offense, feel free to book a free consultation with our experienced DWI attorneys. We will prepare a defense strategy to help you protect your rights and freedom against DWI charges.
DWI Missouri Trial
Many Missouri DWI cases are resolved through plea deals or dismissals. However, if a defendant does not accept a plea deal and his charges are not dismissed, the case will go to trial. During the trial, the prosecution and defense will both have an opportunity to call witnesses to the stand. Here’s a look at some of the parties that are typically called to testify during a DWI trial.
The prosecution will most likely call the police officer who placed you under arrest to the stand during your trial. While on the stand, the police officer will have to answer questions about the circumstances surrounding your arrest. What made the police officer decide to pull you over? What gave him the impression that you were intoxicated? Did you successfully complete the field sobriety tests? These are some of the many questions that the prosecution will ask the police officer.
During cross-examination, the defense may try to poke holes in the police officer’s story. For example, the defense may try to prove that the police officer did not follow the proper protocol when administering the breathalyzer test, so the results should not be used against you.
The validity of the chemical test is often called into question during a DWI test. Because of this, each side usually calls expert witnesses to the stand to discuss the chemical test results. The prosecution may call an expert witness who testifies that the test was administered properly and the results are accurate. However, the defense’s expert witness will do the exact opposite. For instance, the defense may argue that the blood sample was not stored properly before it was tested. Then, the defense can call an expert witness to the stand to explain how improperly storing a blood sample can skew results.
It is not required that the defendant take the stand, but some choose to do so anyway. There are advantages and disadvantages to serving as your own witness, so it’s important to discuss this with your attorney prior to making a decision. If your attorney believes your testimony could strengthen your case, you should agree to take the stand to clear your name.
Have you been charged with driving while intoxicated in Missouri? If so, contact The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at once. Our criminal defense attorneys will build a strong case in your defense so we can fight for your freedom
DWI Missouri Checkpoints
DWI checkpoints are areas where law enforcement officers are stationed and ready to randomly stop drivers in order to check for signs of intoxication. The Missouri DWI laws regarding checkpoints vary from state to state. In fact, some states have outlawed the use of DWI checkpoints altogether. Is Missouri one of these states? Here’s what you need to know:
DWI Checkpoints in Missouri
It is not illegal to conduct a DWI checkpoint in the state of Missouri. But, the state drastically reduced funding for DWI checkpoints last year. Although law enforcement officers are allowed to conduct DWI checkpoints, they do not exercise this right very often due to a lack of funding.
Saturation Patrols in Missouri
The state chose to shift millions of dollars in funding away from DWI checkpoints and into saturation patrols. A saturation patrol involves a large number of law enforcement officers patrolling an area at a specific time. The officers will closely watch drivers in the area to look for signs of intoxication, such as speeding, reckless driving, or making wide turns. If an officer spots a driver that is showing signs of intoxication, he will pull the driver over. This differs from a checkpoint, where officers pull over drivers at random to look for signs of intoxication.
What to Expect During a MO DWI Checkpoint or Saturation Patrol
Law enforcement officers can conduct both DWI checkpoints and saturation patrols in Missouri, so drivers should be prepared for both. Do not tell the police officer who pulls you over if you have been drinking alcohol-even if it was not enough to impair your driving. The officer may ask you to step out of the car and perform a series of field sobriety tests. The results of these tests are not reliable. Since you are under no obligation to perform field sobriety tests, it’s best to refuse. However, there are consequences for refusing to take a chemical test, so keep this in mind if you are asked to take a blood or breath test.
Above all else, it’s important to remain calm at all times during a DWI stop. If you are arrested, exercise your right to an attorney as soon as possible.
Are you facing a DWI charge? Don’t face these criminal charges without an attorney from The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center by your side. Our criminal defense attorneys are committed to protecting your rights and fighting for your freedom.
KC Missouri DUI Checkpoints: What You Need To Know
Sobriety or DWI checkpoints or roadblocks are a controversial tool used by law enforcement officials across the nation with the intent of deterring drunk and drugged driving. In most cases, police set up roadblocks and either stop every driver or driver selected at random to screen them for possible intoxicated driving. Under Missouri law, sobriety checkpoints are a legal means of detecting DWI and are regularly used by law enforcement agencies.
Although the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution normally requires law enforcement officers to have probable cause to make a traffic stop, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that sobriety checkpoints do not violate the Constitution due to the overriding state interest in deterring drunk driving. However, in order to be legal, law enforcement officers must properly conduct the resulting traffic stops.
As a result, you should be aware of your rights if you are stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. Keep in mind that police officers can lie while conducting any type of investigation, so the less you say, the better. Plus, if an officer asks whether you have been drinking, do not answer unless you can truthfully say no. Any admission of having consumed any alcohol will be used against you, even if you are not impaired or only had a single beer.
Police officers do not have the legal authority to search your vehicle at a DWI checkpoint unless you give them consent or they have probable cause to conduct a search. You are under no obligation to undergo field sobriety tests, and there are no penalties for your refusal. However, if you refuse to undergo a breathalyzer test to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC), then you will be subject to an automatic driver’s license suspension.
Given the potential penalties, consulting with an experienced DWI defense lawyer can be key to your ability to avoid these potentially harsh consequences. The attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center have handled the legal representation of countless individuals in DWI, DUI for drugs or medication, and traffic violation cases. We want to help you avoid as many of the repercussions of a criminal record as possible.
Legal Age to Serve Alcohol in Missouri
Although the legal age for possessing, purchasing, or consuming alcoholic beverages in the state of Missouri is 21, the fact is that many individuals consume alcohol prior to the age of 21. When minors, or those who are under 21, consume alcohol and then drive a motor vehicle, the consequences may be severe.
While the Missouri DWI charge normally requires a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%, the legal limit (BAC) for minors is only 0.02%. This is such a low limit that it typically takes a very small amount of alcohol to reach it.
Any minor arrested for driving while intoxicated will face an immediate driver’s license suspension. The length of the suspension depends on a number of different factors, including the driver’s past criminal history. For a first-time offender, the driver’s license suspension is likely to be for 90 days, but for minors with prior DUI arrests. The suspension period could be much longer.
In the state of Missouri, minors can get a driver’s permit at age 15 and a license at age 116. If a minor is arrested for DWI while he or she only has a driver’s permit, as opposed to a license, then it could prevent him or her from getting a license at the age of 16. One requirement for getting a license is that you have no alcohol-related convictions for 12 months. Therefore, a DWI arrest for minors with only driver’s permits can substantially delay their ability to get their driver’s licenses.
Aside from repercussions for driving privileges, you also can face up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for a DWI conviction as a minor. While it is not likely that a first-time minor DWI offender will serve six months in jail, it is a possibility. For a second or subsequent offense, the potential sentence of incarceration can be longer and the fines much higher. The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for individuals who are charged with traffic, DWI crimes, and other criminal offenses. It is our priority to represent your interests and protect your rights.
What is an SR-22 Missouri?
The term “SR-22” is often used in DWI cases, but many defendants do not understand what it means. More importantly, they are usually unaware of how an SR-22 can impact their lives if they are convicted of or plead guilty to DWI. Here’s everything you need to know:
The Basics of SR-22 Certificates
Many people refer to an SR-22 as “SR-22 insurance,” but it’s not an actual insurance policy. An SR-22 is a certificate provided by your car insurance company that serves as proof that you are meeting the state’s minimum insurance coverage requirements.
Who Needs An SR-22?
Anyone who has pled guilty or been convicted of DWI will need to obtain an SR-22 in order to reinstate their driving privileges. You are not allowed to file the SR-22 certificate on your own-your car insurance company will need to submit the SR-22 to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on your behalf. This lets the DMV know that you are fully insured so they can reinstate your driving privileges.
How Do I Obtain An SR-22?
It’s your responsibility to ask your insurance company for an SR-22 certificate after a DWI conviction or guilty plea. However, it’s important to note that some insurance companies do not offer SR-22 certificates because they do not want to insure high-risk drivers. If your insurance company does not offer SR-22 certificates, you will need to look for a new insurance provider in order to regain driving privileges.
How Does An SR-22 Affect Insurance Rates?
The insurance company knows that you have engaged in dangerous behavior while behind the wheel if you are asking for an SR-22 certificate. Because of this, the insurance provider will most likely change your driver classification to “high-risk,” which will affect your insurance rates. High-risk drivers pay more for their coverage because they are more likely to be involved in accidents and thus more likely to file claims with their insurance provider. Therefore, it is important to understand that your insurance rates will significantly increase if you are required to obtain an SR-22 certificate. Don’t expect rates to drop down right away, either. The spike in insurance rates can continue for years following a DWI offense.
Have you been charged with driving while intoxicated in Missouri? If so, seek legal representation from the attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center at once. Our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience helping the accused fight for their freedom.
Missouri Prior and Persistent Offender Law
Every crime in Missouri carries a range of possible sentences. If a defendant is found guilty, the judge decides how to sentence him based on the range of possible penalties. But, the judge is allowed to increase the penalties imposed upon a defendant under certain circumstances. These circumstances that lead to more severe penalties are known as sentence enhancements, and they often come into play in DWI cases. Here are four sentence enhancements in DWI cases:
Prior DWI Offenders in Missouri
The prior offender sentence enhancement applies to defendants with one intoxication-related offense on their record. Typically, a DWI charge is a class B misdemeanor, but this sentence enhancement increases the charge to a class A misdemeanor. This means you will face more severe penalties, including a mandatory 10-day jail sentence that you must serve before becoming eligible for probation or parole.
Persistent offenders are defendants with two intoxication-related offenses on their criminal record. A defendant can also be classified as a persistent offender if he has one intoxication-related offense in addition to one involuntary manslaughter, assault, or assault of a police officer on his record.
This sentence enhancement increases your DWI charge to a class D felony, which carries serious penalties. A persistent offender who is convicted or pleads guilty can face up to seven years behind bars and up to five years of probation.
Aggravated DWI Offenders
Another sentence enhancement applies to aggravated offenders, which are defendants with three or more intoxication-related offenses on their record. This sentence enhancement also applies to defendants with one intoxication-related offense on their record plus one violent offense such as involuntary manslaughter or murder in the second degree.
Defendants who are classified as aggravated offenders will face class C felony charges, which means they could be sentenced to spend up to ten years behind bars.
Finally, there is a chronic offender sentence enhancement. This enhancement is applied in cases where the DWI defendant has four or more prior intoxication-related offenses on his record. It can also apply to other defendants who have a combination of intoxication-related offenses and violent offenses on their record.
This sentence enhancement will increase your DWI charge to a class B felony. If you are convicted or decide to plead guilty, you will face a minimum of five years and a maximum of 15 years behind bars. You will not be eligible for either probation or parole until this minimum sentence has been served.
Are you facing a DWI charge in Missouri? If so, the attorneys at The Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center are ready to help. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about protecting the rights of the accused. Let our team fight to reach the best possible outcome in your case! Call our office at 816-205-4119 or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation today.