What is Worse, a DWI or Reckless Driving?

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Imprudent Driving vs. DWI Charges in Missouri

Unlike most states, Missouri does not have a law that prevents ‘reckless driving,’ awarded to drivers who are found to be driving with a willful disregard for safety. However, in some cases, a DWI case could be reduced to imprudent driving — or a driver could be charged with both.

Learn how the charges differ and how our team at Cole & Martin Attorneys at Law, LLC can help.

What is Careless and Imprudent Driving?

To be charged with careless and imprudent driving in Missouri, you must have been doing one or more of these violations:

  • Driving at 5-20 mph over the speed limit.
  • Driving over 80 mph.
  • Drag racing or street racing.
  • Weaving in between cars at high speeds.
  • Driving in an unsafe manner.

Charges & Penalties

In Missouri, careless and imprudent driving is a class B misdemeanor. If convicted, the charge will stay on your driving record for three years, and on a commercial driving license for four years. In addition, a driver will also face the following penalties:

  • Up to six months in jail.
  • A maximum of $1,000 in fines.
  • Four demerit points on your driving record.

However, careless driving charges can increase to a class A misdemeanor if an accident occurs where there was injury, property damage, or death. This increases the charges to:

  • Up to a year in prison.
  • A maximum of $2,000 in fines.
  • Four demerit points on your driving record.

How DWIs Differ

Under Missouri state law, drivers can be charged with a DWI if they're found to be operating a vehicle in an 'intoxicated condition.' A DWI is typically charged as a class B misdemeanor in Missouri. A first time DWI 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.

Repeat Cases & Increased Charges

Drivers risk a heftier charge in the case of repeat offenses or a DWI that involves injury or death — having a much larger impact than a reckless driving charge. 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. If a driver is charged again, it will be a second or subsequent DWI.

What If I’m Charged With Both?

It is possible to be charged with both a DWI and careless and imprudent driving. In this case, the charge could permanently remain on your driving record. In addition, you could face other repercussions such as loss of employment, driving privileges, and an increase in your insurance premiums.

Reducing Your Charges

In some instances, drivers could bargain with the court to reduce their charge to a reckless driving charge. With the help of a skilled DWI attorney this plea bargain would mean avoiding additional penalties such as license suspension and IID installation in your vehicle.

Contact Our Experienced Springfield DWI Lawyer Today

The penalties for a repeat 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.

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. To book your free consultation, contact our team today by calling (417) 213-5441 or filling out our online form.

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