What Happens After a First DUI in Missouri?
Studies show that Missouri has the 14th-highest rate of drunk driving fatalities in the nation and sees a high level of drunk driving charges annually. Drivers who are charged with their first DWI may have questions about what happens next and the penalties they may face.
Keep reading to learn how our skilled Missouri DWI attorneys at Cole & Martin Attorneys at Law, LLC can help fight for the best result.
Knowing the Difference: DUI vs DWI
The terms DWI and DUI are commonly used interchangeably when referring to someone who was pulled over for drunk driving. While DWI is the preferred legal term in Missouri, both twos refer to the same charge. A DWI refers to a driver driving while intoxicated, while a DUI refers to a driver who is charged with driving under the influence — the same charge, just different terminology.
Both DUIs and DWIs are serious criminal charges under Missouri law, even on the first offense, and are charged as such.
When is a DWI Considered a First Offense?
Under Missouri state law, drivers can be charged with a DUI if they're found to be operating a vehicle in an 'intoxicated condition.' A driver is considered intoxicated if they:
Are under the influence of any combination of drugs, alcohol, or controlled substances.
Have an excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .04% or more for commercial drivers and .08% or more for all other drivers.
Penalties for a First DUI Offense
A DWI is considered a first offense if the driver has no other charges within the last five years and no more than one DWI conviction in their lifetime. Additionally, a first offense is typically a class B misdemeanor and can have the following consequences:
Jail time: Maximum sentence of six months.
Fines: Up to $1,000 of fines as well as court fees.
Driver’s license suspensions: 30 days if the driver has no prior convictions followed by 60 days of restrictions.
Ignition interlock devices (IIDs): Possible as a result of a restricted license.
Learning Your Rights in a No Refusal Zone
While Missouri state law deems that drivers have consented to blood tests while suspected of driving drunk under its "implied consent" law, you may refuse to submit to the test. If you do refuse, a police officer could file a search warrant to draw your blood. If this is your first time being pulled over for a DUI, it’s important to know what a No Refusal Zone is.
Missouri’s No Refusal Zones: Explained
No Refusal Zones were created to combat the common practice of drivers refusing field sobriety tests, police and prosecutors gaining less evidence, and defense attorneys aggressively fighting their client’s rights.
A Missouri police officer can obtain a search warrant for a blood alcohol test in a No Refusal Zone almost automatically after a driver refuses a breathalyzer. The difference in procedure here is how quickly a cop can expedite their request to draw blood.
Where are there No Refusal Zones in Missouri?
Before this measure was enacted, St. Louis officials noted that the refusal rate for a field sobriety test was almost 50%. In addition to St. Louis, Greene County Christian County, Franklin County, and St. Charles Country have implemented No Refusal Zones.
The Importance of Hiring a Seasonal Missouri DUI Attorney
The penalties for a first time DWI charge can affect your life in many ways — from securing housing to applying for jobs. With a skilled Missouri DWI attorney on your side, you can fight your charges and work to reduce your penalties.
Contact Our Experienced Springfield DUI Lawyer Today
At Cole & Martin Attorneys at Law, LLC, we take every case extremely seriously and want you to feel prepared and confident when facing your charges. If this is your first DUI, you can trust our team to walk you through the process.
Our DUI attorney in Springfield will answer any questions, address your concerns with honesty, and provide you with your legal options to pursue a favorable outcome. To book your free consultation, contact our team today by calling (417) 213-5441 or filling out our online form.