In the state of Missouri, a person commits the crime of driving while intoxicated if they are found to have operated a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Intoxication can be proven by the behaviors observed, or “per se” by the presence of alcohol or drugs in a chemical sample of the individual’s blood or breath. The nationwide standard for a DWI conviction is .08, or eight hundredths of alcohol per two-hundred liters of breath. Do you actually need to be driving to be arrested for DWI? The short answer is no. The state can convict you if you are in “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle while under the influence. The courts have interpreted this as being in a position to restrain or regulate a vehicle’s movements. If you are found in or near a vehicle with the keys, the state can constructively place you in control of the vehicle, and you may be convicted of a DWI. If you find yourself in this situation, is imperative that you retain a Kansas City DUI attorney to sort through the facts and determine if there are any defenses that can be raised.
In Missouri, a first-time conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a class B misdemeanor which can result in up to six months of imprisonment and/ or a fine of up to five-hundred dollars. If the Court finds that there are aggravating factors such as an excessive blood alcohol content (BAC) it may impose a mandatory minimum sentence. If the accused individual has a BAC in excess of .15%, they will face a minimum 48-hour jail term, while a BAC .2% or greater will result in a 5-day mandatory minimum. However, in certain cases an accused individual may receive a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) which will result in the charges being dismissed with prejudice following successful completion of a probation program.
Probation for a DWI conviction or SIS may include:
· Two years supervised probation
· Fines and court costs
· MADD victim impact panel (VIP)
· Community Service · Random drug and alcohol testing to verify sobriety
· Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
· Secured Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM)
· Drug and alcohol treatment
· Substance Abuse Traffic Offenders Program (SATOP)
Subsequent DWI convictions will result in enhanced penalties, and jail time may be mandatory for certain offenders. Missouri classifies DWI offenders according to the number of prior convictions on their record.
Missouri law classifies someone that has been previously found guilty of a DWI offense as a prior offender for purposes of sentencing. A prior offender will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor (instead of a Class B misdemeanor which is a first offense). A Class A misdemeanor may result in a sentence of up to one (1) year in a county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. An individual convicted of a second DWI offense is prohibited from being granted probation until they have served a minimum of ten (10) days in jail or completed 240 hours of community service.
Missouri law classifies someone that has been previously found guilty of at least two (2) DWI offenses as a persistent offender. A third DWI conviction in Missouri is a Class D Felony which can carry a potential sentence of up to four (4) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) and/ or up to five years of probation. A persistent offender will be required to serve at least thirty (30) days in jail or complete 480 hours of community service to be granted probation.
Missouri law classifies someone who causes injury to another or has been previously found guilty of three (3) DWI offenses as an aggravated offender. An aggravated DWI offender will be charged with a Class D Felony which carries a sentence of up to seven (7) years in the custody of the Missouri DOC. An individual convicted of a Class D Felony DWI may be required to serve sixty (60) days in custody before they are eligible for probation.
Missouri law classifies someone that has been previously found guilty of four (4) or more DWI offenses as a chronic offender, a class C felony. A chronic offender faces a mandatory minimum of two years in the custody of the Missouri DOC before probation may be granted.
Missouri law classifies someone that has been previously found guilty of five (5) or more DWI offenses as a habitual offender, a class B felony. A habitual offender faces five (5) to fifteen (15) years, but if death is an element of the offense may be charged as a Class A felony which carries a sentence of 10 to 30 years or life in prison.
When someone is arrested for a DWI, they are likely to experience a range of emotions and may feel like it is the end of the world. While it may seem so, I can assure you that if you handle the matter properly, it will get better with time. The first step is to promptly retain an attorney to guide you through the process. While the criminal proceedings tend to drag on for several months, someone who has failed a chemical test has only 15 days to request a hearing or face an automatic license suspension. My representation and flat fee arrangement includes both the civil and criminal proceedings, so you can rest assured that your best interests will be protected. I will provide a free case evaluation during our initial consultation and inform you upfront of any legal fees associated with the scope of my representation all the way up to trial. Unlike in Kansas, a DWI in Missouri may be able to be plead down to a lesser charge or ultimately dismissed through a process known as plea bargaining. This is fact and circumstance dependent, and I will not be able to provide my professional opinion until discovery has been completed.
If you have been charged with a person crime in Missouri, it is important to invoke your 5th amendment rights to counsel and remain silent. If the charges result from an illegal stop or search, they may be subject to dismissal for violating the 4th amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure. It is important to consult with an attorney before accepting a plea or admitting guilt in any way.