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Arrested for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated)? You’re in danger of facing criminal charges, a conviction for a criminal offense that can result in severe consequences including jail time and the loss of your driver’s license, increased insurance rates and loss of a job. It is important to utilize an experienced DWI attorney who can help you avoid or mitigate these consequences. Having been on both sides of the courtroom as a former prosecutor and defense attorney, as well as the bench as a Pro Tem Judge, I have the experience to help.
If you are interested in learning more about the services we offer, please feel free to review this site, and give us a call. DWI law in Missouri is a complex field, and navigating it alone can be a dangerous situation.
DWI in a Nutshell
Driving under the influence of alcohol is considered to have occurred in the state of Missouri when a level of .08 or higher blood alcohol content is reached or if your ability to drive is affected if there is no breath test or the result of the breath test is less than .08. Anyone tested over the .08 limit or thought to be affected can be subject to arrest and suspension of their license.
Once you are pulled over by an officer, you are given an initial breath test (Often call a PBT for Portable Breath Test) and if the officer believes you are intoxicated, he can arrest you and administer that official breath test at the station.
If at the station, your test results are too high, or if you refuse the test, your license is automatically suspended, with the officer providing you a temporary license until you schedule a Department of Revenue (DOR) Hearing. You know have two cases at this point. You must then defend yourself in both civil court and criminal court. The DOR hearing is the civil mechanism to maintain your right to drive, while the criminal court handles the fact that you have been charged with a crime.
The procedure you must go through when handling your DWI charge is extensive, and sometimes slow. Initially, you will be arraignment or charged with the crime. From there, you will go through Pre-Trial Hearings, Motion Hearings, Readiness Hearings, and trial. Each step requires the expertise of a DWI defense lawyer who knows the system and can either negotiate with the prosecutors to get your charges reduced, or challenge any evidence against you and get it dismissed.
DWI PENALTIES AND CONSEQUENCES
Being arrested for a DWI is something that can be frightening and life altering. Because there are so many factors regarding DWI it is vital that you contact an experienced DWI attorney immediately if you are charged with driving under the influence.
There are considerable penalties if convicted of DWI, which can include the following:
- Revocation and/or suspension of your license
- Incarceration, Probation, Community Service
- Fines and court cost
- Alcohol usage evaluation and/or treatment, SATOP
- Ignition Interlock Device / Alcohol Detection Device
- DWI on driving record
- Possible Employment Issues
- Felony Charges if Multiple Convictions
First time offenders DWI is a Class B Misdemeanor which carries up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. The charge also has a possibility of requiring the ignition interlock requirement and 8 points will be added to your driving record. The Department of Revenue will also suspend the offender’s driver’s license for at least 30 days followed by a 60 day restricted license.
These penalties increase substantially if an individual refuses to take a breath test, their alcohol concentration is 0.15 or above, or if an accident occurs in connection to the DWI. The maximum penalty for a DWI is a $5000 fine and six months in jail for a first time offender.
For a Second Conviction for DWI, the crime becomes a Class A misdemeanor and carries 12 points be added to the driving record. In addition, the DOR will suspend your license to a least one year. If the previous conviction is relatively recent, that revocation could last up to 5 years.
QUESTIONS ASKED TO A DWI ATTORNEY
- Do I need an attorney for a DWI? – Yes? There are many ways to fight a DWI and avoid losing your license and possibly going to jail. As an experienced DWI lawyer, I have successfully helped many individuals with their DWI charges.
- Wasn’t the Cop supposed to read me my rights? Can you get the case dismissed? The short answer is No! The reading of Miranda Warnings is a rule regarding the introduction of evidence. It may be the case that the officer was suppose to read you your rights before interrogating you, but that failure alone does not warrant a dismissal. The case may still proceed based on the rest of the evidence. For more information, click here.
- I blew under the legal limit, can I still be charged? – Yes! You can still be charged with a DWI even if your tested Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level was below the legal limit. This is because if your driving is affected in anyway due to alcohol, a DWI can follow. Think of it this way, if you had refused to take the breath test, they might be able to convict you without that evidence. If you blow under the legal limit, they still do not have that evidence. Though, a breath test under the legal limit may actually play in your favor, depending on the driving.
- Should I have Blown? Now that’s a loaded question! There’s no one answer, and the armchair quarterbacking that happens is different in every case. It’s the law, so I guess the answer is yes, probably, with exceptions, and they’re not good.
- What or Who determines a charge of DWI? – In Missouri an individual is charged with DWI if the blood tests show .08 or higher for an adult or .02 or higher for minors, which means under 21. You can also be charged with DWI if you refuse the breath test or if the officer believes that you are under the influence of alcohol regardless of whether your breath test is under a .08.
- If they take my license, can I get a work permit? Most of time yes, you should speak to your lawyer about the best way to go about that as there are limitations and conditions.
- Can I refuse to take the test? – Yes, but you may or may not want to. In Missouri, when you obtain your drivers’ license you have already given your consent to take these tests. You have the right to refuse, but by refusing your license will be suspended / revoked. You have a right to request a hearing with the DOR to challenge this revocation. The allowed time frame to request such a hearing is very short, so act immediately. If you do not act immediately, you will have missed the deadline to request a hearing and your license will be suspended / revoked automatically.
- Does my employer have to know about my DWI? – Legally No. If the company you work for has a requirement however, it could be mandatory with them, especially if you drive a company car.
- Should I just go Plead Guilty and forget about it? Please read my post here for a very definitive answer to that question.
O’Fallon, MO 63366