If you or someone you know has run into trouble with the law regarding drinking and driving, you may be wondering about the penalties associated with a DUI/DWI conviction. Though the penalties are fairly uniform, they increase according to the number of times you have had such an alcohol-related conviction, becoming progressively harsher each time. In the State of Missouri each DUI/DWI is a two part process. One part is the criminal side of the case dealing with the actual criminal charge of DWI. The other part is the civil side dealing with your driver's license.
On the criminal side a first-time offender can face up to six months behind bars and a fine of up to $500. While such lengthy prison stays are rare for first-time offenders, it is possible if there are aggravating circumstances in your case. First time offenders also face a revocation of their driver's license depending on whether they took a breath test or not. If a person blew over 0.08 BAC then they face a 90 day suspension of their driving privilege. The first 30 days of the 90 day suspension they do not have any driving privileges, followed by a 60-day period of restricted driving privileges. These restrictions allow individuals to travel to and from work and school and little else. If a person refuses to take a breath test then they face a one year suspension of their driving privilege. They will be eligible for a hardship license after the first 90 days if they apply for a limited driving privilege (LDP) with the Missouri Department of Revenue.
It is important to understand that anyone arrested for DWI has time to appeal any license suspension that they face on the civil side of their DWI case. A person has 15 DAYS TO APPEAL THE LICENSE SUSPENSION whether they took a breath test or not. If you file an appeal you will be granted driving privileges while your appeal is pending.
Someone who has been pled guilty or convicted of a second DWI within five years of the first offense faces up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. Those who have a second drunk driving offense could have their license revoked for one year. It also is worth mentioning that anyone with two or more alcohol-related convictions is ineligible for an expungement of their driving record.
Drivers who have pled guilty or convicted of a third DWI are labeled "persistent offenders" under Missouri law and could potentially wind up behind bars for up to four years and be fined up to $5,000. Those convicted of a third offense will have their licenses revoked for 10 years and become a convicted felon. Furthermore, they face mandatory jail term of 10 days depending on the particular circumstances of your case.
In Missouri, a DWI/DUI conviction is considered a felony after the third conviction. Those who receive a fourth conviction are known as "aggravated offenders" and face up to seven years in prison and fines up to $5,000. Again, offenders will have their licenses revoked indefinitely and may apply for reinstatement after 10 years has passed.
Someone who commits five or more DWI offenses is labeled a "chronic offender" and faces up to 15 years behind bars. After the offender has served his time he may not ever have his license reinstated, it depends on the facts of each case.
Though the penalties detailed above sound harsh enough, the reality is there are plenty of punishments that go along with a drunk driving conviction that are not contained in the Missouri statutes. Dramatically increased insurance rates, fines, court costs, attorney's fees and a lifetime of having a DWI/DUI conviction on your record all add up. For a full list of punishments see Missouri Revised Statute 577.023
If you've had a run in with the law and find yourself in need of a Missouri DWI defense lawyer capable of aggressively protecting your interests, contact our St. Louis DWI law firm today at (314) 863-0500.