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 penalties.
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 days.
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 years.
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
- Substance abuse treatment
- Continuous alcohol monitoring
- Random 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 legal adults.
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 penalties.
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 months.
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.