Driving under the influence (DUI) in the State of Missouri is referred to as driving while intoxicated (DWI), and it’s considered a serious offense that carries severe penalties. The statute defines DWI as driving with excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% and more or operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated or drugged condition.

Although many DWI offenses, especially first DWI offenses, are prosecuted as misdemeanors, in certain circumstances, a DWI offense can be charged as a felony. When this occurs and felony charges arise, it’s essential to understand these charges are extremely serious and carry life-altering penalties, including jail time.

If you are facing a DWI felony charge in Missouri, consider retaining the services of attorneys at the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center. They have the knowledge to develop a strong defense strategy and protect their clients’ rights in court. Their team can fight to reach the best possible outcome. Reach out to them as soon as possible so they can hear your side of the story and explain your options, allowing you to know what to expect.


When Is a DWI a Felony in Missouri?


Although every DWI case is different, you may be charged for a felony DWI in the following circumstances:

  • Committing a third DWI
  • DWI involving injuries or death
  • Having a prior felony DWI conviction


Third or Subsequent DWI Conviction

Anyone convicted of a third or any subsequent DWI would be facing felony charges. Under Missouri law, the individual is considered an “aggravated offender” for a third DWI conviction and a “chronic offender” for the fourth DWI offense conviction. Drivers convicted of five or more DWI offenses committed on separate occasions are considered “habitual offenders.”


Fatal Accidents and DWI Involving Injuries

DWI involving injuries to another person may also result in felony charges, even if the injuries are not severe. Drivers who caused the death of another person involved in the accident would also face felony charges, even if they don’t have previous convictions.


Prior Felony DWI

Finally, having one or more felony DWI convictions in the past would most likely result in felony charges, even if the new offense is typically not being prosecuted as a felony.


Felony DWI and Potential Penalties


Penalties for felony DWI offenses range from spending several years to up to 30 years in prison. For example, a “persistent offender,” someone who has been charged with DWI after already having two intoxication-related traffic convictions on their record, would face up to four years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines for the third DWI. That particular offense is a Class E felony.

If a “habitual offender” causes the death of someone involved in the accident, he or she may potentially face Class A felony charges. Class A felony carries the most severe punishment under the statute with the range of not less than ten and up to 30 years in prison.

In addition to prison time and fines, DWI offenders also face other repercussions such as driver’s license suspension or revocation. Also, those who have been convicted of a DWI felony in Missouri won’t be able to have their record expunged, meaning the conviction will always be a part of their criminal records.

Given the potential penalties, consulting with an experienced DWI defense lawyer can be the key to avoiding or mitigating potentially harsh consequences. If you or a loved one faces a felony DWI charge, the DUI/DWI lawyers at the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center are here to help. Contact us today to find out how having a determined, compassionate, and competent DWI defense team on your side can help you fight your felony charges and retain your freedom.