While some drivers may view St. Louis DWI penalties and laws as harsh and intolerant, many other drivers and especially pedestrians believe they are fair and they improve traffic safety. This becomes apparent when looking at the number of traffic accidents involving alcohol consumption registered throughout the past decade, down from 8,750 events to only 5,976.
Missouri is one of the states with “zero tolerance law” when it comes to alcohol consumption among underage drivers. Driving while intoxicated with a BAC level of 0.02% is a criminal offense for drivers under 21 years of age, so one beer or glass of wine could be enough to ruin a young driver’s future.
Commercial drivers are another special category under Missouri DWI laws because they have to meet higher liability standards. A BAC level of or above 0.04% will bring them 2 penalty points on their driving records and disqualify them from driving commercial vehicles for 1 year, probably costing them their job.
For individual drivers over the age of 21, DWI penalties vary according to the BAC limit and driving records. It is important to note that drivers cannot refuse submission to further testing meant to determine the presence and concentration of drugs or alcohol in their system. If they do, due to the Missouri DWI “implied consent” law, they risk losing their driving privilege for one year.
St. Louis DWI Penalties According to Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC)
Similar to the other states, Missouri has its “per se” law that deems drivers with a BAC level of 0.08% or higher intoxicated. This means no further tests or evidence is necessary to prove their impairment, which impacts drivers who feel sober and in full control of their mind and body even after consuming large quantities of alcohol.
Thus, according to DWI laws in Missouri, drivers found with a BAC of 0.08% will face DWI penalties and charges. Drivers whose BAC reaches or exceeds 0.15% or higher will face “aggravated DWI” charges. In addition to the BAC limit, the DWI penalties for these charges also take the drivers’ past offenses into account.
Thus, first-time offenders risk Class B misdemeanor charges. If their BAC limit is between 0.15% and 0.2%, they will spend a minimum of 48 hours in jail. If their BAC exceeds 0.2%, the minimum time to spend in jail is 5 days. Jail sentences for Class B misdemeanor can reach 6 months and bring about fines of up to $500.
Drivers with several alcohol-related convictions on record will serve even more jail time, as follows:
- Those with only 1 prior conviction will spend at least 10 days in jail.
- Those with 2 prior convictions risk minimum 30 days of jail time.
- For 3 prior convictions, the minimum jail time is 60 days.
- Drivers with 4 or more convictions risk spending minimum 2 years behind bars.
In some cases, the court may approve early releases in exchange for community service. In St. Louis DWI cases involving BAC over 0.15%, the court usually orders alcohol treatment in order to approve sentence reduction. All vehicle-related criminal convictions bring about penalty points that will appear in the drivers’ records and may lead to license suspension or revocation.
In fact, in Missouri, DWI convictions lead to automatic suspension or revocation of one’s driving privileges. For example, the license-suspension period for first-time DWI offenders is 90 days. Drivers with 1 prior conviction could lose their license for 1 year. In case of 2 convictions within 5 years, drivers risk a 5 years’ license denial. Drivers who commit 3 or more traffic crimes related to drugs or alcohol risk a 10-year license revocation.
In some cases, the drivers may be eligible for Restricted or Limited Driving Privilege, on the condition that they install an Ignition Interlock Device on the vehicle they drive. This device requests drivers to blow into it upon getting behind the wheel and prevents them from starting the car if it detects alcohol. Drivers installing IID on their cars should choose approved makes and models.
How to Fight St. Louis DWI Charges
Despite the DWI penalties mentioned above, drivers who face charges may still be able to keep their license or minimize the consequences of their traffic crimes by hiring an experienced DWI attorney. There are numerous ways to fight DWI charges, and experienced lawyers know them all. Here are the most popular and effective:
- Proving that the police stopped the driver in traffic illegally
- Challenging the observations of the police officer/s
- Challenging the results of the field sobriety tests
- Proving that the breathalyzer did not receive proper maintenance
- Proving that the administration of the breathalyzer test was faulty
- Challenging the results of the breathalyzer test
- Blaming the BAC level on “mouth alcohol”
- Challenging the 15 minutes observational period
- Challenging the results of the blood tests
- Proving that the police failed to give the driver all the legal warnings.
Besides fighting charges, Missouri DWI attorneys can help their clients show that their ability to earn their living, receive medical treatment, receive education, or care for their loved ones depends on their driving privilege, and, thus, obtain Restricted or Limited Driving Privilege.
It goes without saying that, given the devastating impact a DWI conviction can have on one’s personal and professional life, any method or strategy that can help one avoid that conviction is worth trying. Seasoned DWI attorneys know all these methods and strategies very well.
They are also familiar with the forms you will need to file and procedures to follow in every situation. An attorney can save their clients significant time and money, providing not only legal advice but also peace of mind. Now is your chance for a free preliminary consultation, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out to a lawyer if you are facing DWI penalties and charges.
Consult with a Missouri DWI Lawyer Today
Are you facing DWI charges? You can find out what DWI penalties you are at risk of receiving and how you can avoid or minimize them by discussing your case with an attorney at Hollingshead & Dudley Trial Lawyers. Call 314-888-9247 or fill in the contact form and schedule your FREE consultation right now!