A night out with friends can mean a few too many adult beverages. You slide behind the wheel, determined to get home and get to bed. Flashing lights in the review mirror tell you that the night is not going your way. One set of charges later, you seek assistance in preparing for a DUI defense. Below are the steps to handling your court appearances and facing the possible sentence as calmly as possible.
What Are the State DUI Laws in Missouri?
The statutes related to driving while under the influence of alcohol are either Driving While Intoxicated, DWI, or Driving with Excessive Blood Alcohol Content, BAC. An individual driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs can face charges of DWI. Impairment at any level due to intoxication or the influence of drugs can lead to a DWI charge. Meanwhile, BAC applies when an individual has a blood alcohol content of .08 or more in that individual’s blood.
The case must always prove that the individual facing charges operated a vehicle. This can include sitting in the driver’s seat with the vehicle running, even if the vehicle is parked. Charges can also occur if the vehicle is off but in a state of motion, such as a case where the vehicle is out of gas and the individual is steering it downhill while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These various scenarios can make handling the defense challenging. It also means working with an experienced lawyer can make a big difference in the approach used in court, increasing the odds of a shorter sentence and lower fine. The DUI defense lawyer needs to be reliable as well since he or she is responsible for all paperwork and meeting each relevant deadline.
What Vehicles and Locations are Covered?
The type of vehicle is not clearly defined by Missouri state laws as it relates to DWI. However, it is commonly recognized as any motorized vehicle, including ATVs, mini bikes, and golf carts. In separate Boating While Intoxicated laws, a motor is not even necessary for an individual to face charges of DWI.
Locations where an individual driving faces possible DWI charges include interstate or state highways, county or local roads, private drives, private property and even parking lots.
What Happens If It is My First Offense for DUI in St. Louis?
For the first offense of DWI or BAC, the sentence can include up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. In a county where a court-ordered treatment program is available, the person sentenced for operating a vehicle with .15 to .20 BAC must complete the program in order to be granted a suspended imposition of sentence, or SIS. For someone with a BAC of .15 to .20, the minimum incarceration is 48 hours. Meanwhile, for those with a BAC of higher than .20, the minimum incarceration increases to five days.
How Do the Sentences Differ for Successive Offenses?
It is important to recognize that the sentence increases as the offenses add up. Below is an idea of the possible sentence for a second offense and beyond:
Second Offense: The sentence for a second offense is up to a year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. For those who do not complete a DWI program or 30 days of community service, the sentence is a mandatory 10 days in prison before the individual becomes eligible for parole.
Third Offense: This charge can lead to one year in county jail or up to four years in prison. There will also be a fine of up to $5,000. A mandatory sentence of 30 days must be served for the person to be eligible for probation or parole – unless that person performs 60 days of community service or participates in a DWI program.
Fourth Offense: A fourth offense comes with a categorization as an aggravated offender if the individual has three prior guilty pleas or findings of guilt in DWI related charges. This leads to one year in county jail or up to seven years in prison, along with a fine, maximum $5,000. An individual must complete 60 days in jail before becoming eligible for probation or parole.
Fifth Offense and Beyond: The fifth offense has potential for chronic offender status. The chronic offender status occurs when an individual has four prior guilty pleas, four findings of guilt for DWI charges, two guilty pleas or findings of guilt for DWI related offenses and one prior felony DWI related offense, such as second degree assault, second degree assault on a police officer, involuntary manslaughter or second degree murder.
How Do I Find an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney in Missouri?
The first step is to search for local DUI defense attorneys, as traveling to see your lawyer is going to get expensive and time-consuming. Next, compare the specializations of the lawyers, narrowing down the selection to those who specifically have DUI experience. Finally, check testimonials from clients or review sites to determine which lawyers have high success rates for beneficial sentencing for the client. This can be a factor in who you choose to represent you for your DUI defense court hearings.
Working with an attorney insures that your paperwork is turned in by deadlines and none of the potential evidence is overlooked. It also allows you a better idea of how your case may go, since the attorney can tell you of previous similar cases they have handled, how judges tend to rule and various aspects of the case that can favor the defense versus the prosecution.
Consult with a Skilled DUI Defense Attorney in St. Louis
DUI or DWI cases tend to have similarities that help pinpoint the way the case may go. However, there are numerous details that can change the outcome and the path the case takes as it progresses. This means it is important to work with experienced lawyers that can handle the case with the attention it deserves.
Call Hollingshead and Dudley today at 314-480-5474 to discuss a solid DUI defense.