Like every other state, Missouri strictly outlaws the crime
of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It defines this offense as
Driving While Intoxicated or DWI. It utilizes a variety of laws to discourage drivers
from engaging in this offense.
Drivers in Missouri who want to avoid being charged with DWI
need to know what limits that the state places on blood alcohol content levels.
They also need to recognize the legal consequences that come with being
convicted of DWI in Missouri.
DWI in Missouri
Missouri has a per se definition for DWI that establishes
the blood alcohol content for most drivers at 0.08 percent or higher. At this
level, law enforcement can detain and field sobriety test drivers who act
inebriated or have the presence of alcohol or drugs on their breath.
The state also allows for aggravated DWI charges if the
offense meets certain requirements, such as having a BAC of 0.15 percent or
higher. Aggravated or enhanced DWIs in Missouri are punished with harsher
The BAC limits for underage drivers in Missouri is lower at
0.02 percent. Drivers under the age of 21 must have a BAC below 0.02 percent to
avoid being charged with and punished for DWI.
Commercial drivers are held to the same restrictions for BAC
as in other states. The allowable BAC limit for commercial drivers in the state
is less than 0.04 percent. Because of the risk that their vehicles pose to the
public, CDL drivers will be arrested for DWI if their BACs are at or higher
than 0.04 percent.
In Missouri, it is also possible to get a DWI without
actually driving a car. If the person is found to be in a position of being in
actual physical control of a vehicle, such as being in the drivers seat or
having the key in the ignition, he or she can be charged with DWI if he or she
has a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher.
DWI Penalties in Missouri
Missouri judges use a variety of punishments to discourage drivers
from engaging in driving while intoxicated. The penalties reflect the number of
DWIs on a person’s record and his or her BAC at the tie of the arrest.
A first DWI
conviction in Missouri will result in results in a jail sentence of up to six
months and a fine of up to $1000. The offender could also be sentenced to using
an ignition interlock device or IID and can have his or her drivers’ license
suspended for up to 30 days. The license will then be restricted for another 60
A second DWI in Missouri leads to a fine of up to $2000 and
up to one year in jail. The drivers’ license will be revoked for up to five
years. The offender will also have to use an IID for up to six months.
A third DWI offense results in a jail term of up to four
years and a fine of up to $10,000. The drivers’ license can also be suspended
for up to 10 years, and the offender will be ordered to use an IID for up to 10
The court also has the discretion of suspending jail
sentences in favor of probation. DWI offenders who are sentenced to probation
must complete requirements like:
- A few
mandatory days in jail
drug or alcohol testing
Failing to comply with these requirements can result in the
offender being sent back to jail to finish out the jail sentence.
Underage DWI in Missouri
Drivers who are younger than 21 in Missouri are subject to
different DWI penalties. The most common punishment that they face involves
paying a $250 to $5000 fine and having their drivers’ license suspended. The
standard amount of time for license suspension for underage drivers in Missouri
is 30 to 90 days.
Drivers younger than 16 likewise can be charged with DWI if
they have a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher. They also cannot obtain their
restricted or permanent drivers’ license until they are 17 because of the DWI
conviction on their record.
Qualifying underage DWIs can also be punished with jail
time. Underage offenders can be sentenced to up to six months in jail. This
conviction stays on their criminal and driving records even after they become
Implied Consent in Missouri
Drivers in Missouri cannot escape a DWI by refusing to
submit to chemical testing. If they are detained for suspected DWI and the
officer has reasonable cause to suspect that their BAC is over the legal limit,
they must by law comply with chemical testing or face civil and administrative
A refusal to take a chemical test to determine one’s BAC can
result in a loss of driving privileges for one year. The driver also has to use
an ignition interlock device or IID on all of his or vehicles for up to six
Driving while intoxicated is a serious criminal offense in
Missouri. Drivers who are convicted of it face serious penalties ranging from
fines to jail time.
The laws for DWI apply to underage drivers and motorists who
have CDLs. The implied consent law requires all drivers in Missouri to comply
with chemical testing to determine their BAC levels.