Navigating Your First-Time DWI Offense in Missouri
Even a first-time DWI offense in Missouri brings severe consequences upon conviction. Attorneys from Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center can help. Call now!
Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney
November 02. 2022.
DWI First Offense in Missouri
A DWI is a crime regardless of whether it is a first-time offense, and criminal charges attract penalties upon conviction. Typically, the penalties for a first-timer would be less than that of a serial offender. However, facing your first DWI, you are likely to be scared about what it could mean for you.
A first DWI charge in Missouri is typically a Class B misdemeanor. But several circumstances surrounding individual cases could change this to a more severe charge. Trained DWI lawyers would have to evaluate your case to give you a personalized consultation. However, you should have some basic knowledge about first-time DWI offenses to understand what you are up against.
What Is the Punishment for First-Time Offense DWI in Missouri?
Section 577.010 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri contains the prescribed penalties for DWI offenses. It provides that first-offense DWIs are charged as a Class B misdemeanor. This means that the perpetrator faces a maximum jail sentence of six months and a fine of not more than $1000. However, as mentioned earlier, some instances make the offense of a first-time DWI more severe. A first-offense DWI is a:
Class A misdemeanors if there is a passenger under 17 in the vehicle. This increases the possible jail sentence to a year and the upper limit of the fine to $2000.
Class E felony where the DWI is an act of criminal negligence that led to another person sustaining a physical injury. This means the defendant faces imprisonment of up to four years.
Class D felony if the DWI is an act of criminal negligence that led to physical injury of a law enforcement officer or first responder, the offense becomes or if the act causes serious physical injury to some other person. A Class D felon can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
Class C felony is if the defendant is criminally negligent in having inflicted serious physical injury on a law enforcement officer or emergency personnel or caused the death of another person. This typically attracts a prison sentence of between three to ten years.
Class B felony where the defendant causes the death of a law enforcement official or emergency responder, or the DWI leads to the death of some person not in the defendant’s vehicle, or if it caused the death of two or more people. Also, if the defendant’s blood alcohol content is 0.18% and the DWI resulted in the death of a person, it will be charged as a Class B felony. The penalty is between five to fifteen years of imprisonment.
Note the distinction between physical and serious physical injury in the above classifications.
How Much Does a DWI Cost First-Time Offenders in Missouri?
Another thing to consider with a DWI is the financial cost. For a simple first-offense DWI, the fine required by law must not exceed $1000. However, with a suspended imposition of sentence, there would be no fine. You would have to pay the costs of your other traffic tickets and any court fees.
In addition, all Missouri DWI offenders must participate in the Substance Awareness Traffic Offender Program (SATOP), where they will be screened to determine the appropriate treatment they need. SATOP is compulsory for individuals that tested with an excessive blood alcohol concentration of over 0.08%, which is the legal limit for which they would be considered intoxicated.
Even if you refused a breath test, your driver’s license would be suspended, and you would likely have to complete the program to reinstate it. SATOP assessment screening costs $375, including a $126 assessment screening fee and a $249 supplemental fee. Each SATOP program has its own cost, as follows:
Offender Education Program: $200
Weekend Intervention Program: $467.45
Clinical Intervention Program: $1,067.42
Youth Clinical Intervention Program: $510.20
Other fees may include attorney fees, probation fees, the cost of an ignition interlock device, police booking fees, compulsory insurance fees, and license reinstatement fees. In total, you may be looking at spending $5000 or more, as these costs can vary widely. An experienced DWI attorney may be able to help keep the situation and costs under control for you.
Missouri First Offense DWI Jail Time
Your lawyer can often avoid a trial or reduce the chances of conviction if you face a Class B misdemeanor charge. In such cases, you get a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS), meaning that if you successfully complete probation, you will not face any conviction or jail time. With this, you can successfully keep the DWI off your record.
Missouri law, however, prevents the court from granting an SIS to anybody whose breath test result is above 0.15%. For this reason, you may decide to decline a breathalyzer when pulled over. However, this provision may be disregarded, subject to you completing a court-ordered treatment program.
Why Hire a Lawyer?
As explained above, a first-offense DWI may carry more penalties than anticipated. Many things could complicate your situation, prohibit you from getting a suspended imposition of sentence, or make you ineligible for probation and parole.
The best thing to do may be to contact a lawyer as soon as you are pulled over on suspicion of a DUI, even before taking a breath test. Hiring a lawyer to fight DWI charges from the get-go may result in a reduced sentence or help you keep your record clean. Additionally, they may be able to save you a lot of money by avoiding fines and miscellaneous fees.
Also, it is important to note that if you are convicted of a first-time DWI offense, you may be eligible for DWI expungement after ten years. However, you must not have committed an alcohol-related traffic offense within that timeframe. Hence, you would do well to be more careful after you are let off the hook of your first DWI charge.
If you need the services of a Missouri DWI attorney for consultation or further assistance with your case, you can reach out to a DWI lawyer in Raymore, MO, at the Missouri DWI & Criminal Law Center.
If you have been drinking, use our "Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Calculator"to estimate your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) before you drive, but please keep in mind that the information it provides is just an estimate and may not be inaccurate.