Things to Know if Charged with a Missouri DUI
In Missouri, DUI (driving under the influence) is also known as driving while intoxicated (DWI). You will be charged with committing DWI if you operate a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. BAC is the measure of alcohol in your blood.
This article will explain what you should know if you are charged with committing a Missouri DUI. If you have questions that are specific to your case, you should seek out the assistance of a Missouri drunk driving lawyer.
The Missouri DUI Process
If you are charged with committing a Missouri DUI, you should know the basics of the DUI process.
When you are pulled over by the police, the officer on site will search for signs that you are impaired by alcohol. These include slurred speech or an inability to focus. If he suspects you are intoxicated, he will likely ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. Examples of standard field sobriety tests include:
- Following a light with your eyes while keeping your head and neck still
- Standing on one foot
- Walking in a straight line, stopping and walking back
If you perform poorly on these tests, the officer may place you under arrest on suspicion of drinking and driving. Subsequently, you will be asked to submit to BAC testing. BAC testing can take the form of a blood test, chemical test or breath test. If you refuse to submit to BAC test, you will have your driver's license suspended immediately.
If your BAC is .08 or higher, you will be charged with committing a Missouri DUI. If you are under 21, you will be charged if your BAC is .02 or higher. Even if your BAC is under .08, you still may be charged with DWI if the police have enough evidence to prove that your driving was dangerously impaired due to intoxication.
After you have been charged, you will have an arraignment. An arraignment is when your DUI charges are read aloud in court. At this point, you may plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. Ideally, you will have had the opportunity to speak with a lawyer by this time to understand the consequences of your plea.
If you plead guilty, the judge will sentence you. If you plead not guilty, a trial date will be set. At trial, you and your attorney can present evidence to convince a judge or jury you are not guilty of committing DUI.
Hiring Missouri DUI Attorneys
At the time of your arrest, you retain the right to an attorney. You should take advantage of this right and contact Missouri DUI attorneys who can represent you in your case. If you are in police custody, you should find someone you trust to investigate attorneys on your behalf.
To find Missouri DUI attorneys, you can turn to friends and family members who have used a DUI attorney in the past. Ask them about their own experiences, and if they would recommend the lawyers they used.
You can also use a site like Attorneys.com Whether you were charged with a DUI in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia or another city in Missouri, Attorneys.com can connect you to a DUI lawyer near you. Just call 1-877-913-7222, or fill out the form on this site. After answering a few questions, Attorneys.com will provide you with the contact information to at least one Missouri DUI attorney. The lawyer will contact you within two business days, or you can contact him at your own convenience.
Missouri DUI Penalties
It is important to know the penalties you face if you have been charged with a Missouri DUI. The severity of your punishment will depend on a number of factors, such as your prior DUI history.
A first DUI offense warrants the following punishments:
- Up to six months in jail
- Fines of up to $500
- Full license suspension for 30 days and then 60 days restricted
A second DUI offense warrants the following punishments:
- Up to one year in jail
- Fines of up to $1,000
- License suspension for one year or five years if the second offense was within five years of the previous offense
- Installation of an ignition interlock device, which prevents a car from starting unless the driver's BAC is below a certain limit.
A third DUI offense warrants the following punishments:
- Up to four years in jail
- Fines of up to $5,000
- License suspension for 10 years
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
New Missouri DUI Law
Missouri's legislature enacted a new Missouri DUI law that became effective in August 2010. This law accomplishes the following:
- Creates a centralized reporting database to track all DUI offenses
- Prevents municipal courts from hearing a DUI case if the offender already has two or more offenses
- Establishes DUI courts to facilitate treatment for repeat offenders and those with excessively high BAC levels
- Establishes criteria for qualifying participants and graduates of a DWI court program to obtain a court-ordered limited driving privilege
- Prohibits a first alcohol-related driving offense from being expunged, or removed, from a person's record if he has another alcohol-related contact on record or another alcohol-related action pending