Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense in Missouri and carries significant legal consequences. If you are charged with DWI in Missouri, it’s important to understand the legal process and your rights.
The first step in a DWI case is usually a traffic stop by a police officer. If the officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may ask you to perform field sobriety tests or provide a breath or blood sample. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal limit of 0.08% or if you refuse to provide a sample, you can be arrested and charged with DWI.
After being arrested, you will be taken to a police station for booking. You may be released on bail or held in custody until your first court appearance. It’s important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after being charged with DWI, as they can help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights.
The next step in a DWI case is usually a hearing before a judge, where the charges against you will be read, and you will be asked to enter a plea. If you plead guilty, the judge may impose a sentence, including fines, jail time, community service, and license suspension. If you plead not guilty, the case will proceed to trial, where the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving while intoxicated.
In a DWI trial, the prosecution will present evidence such as the results of a breath or blood test, the officer’s observations, and any statements you made at the time of your arrest. The defense may challenge this evidence, question witnesses, and present its own evidence in an effort to show that you were not driving while intoxicated.
Suppose you are convicted of DWI in Missouri. In that case, the penalties will depend on the circumstances of your case, including your BAC level, your driving record, and whether you have previous DWI convictions. Possible penalties for a first-time DWI conviction in Missouri include:
- Jail time of up to six months
- Fines of up to $1,000
- License suspension for up to a year
- Required participation in an alcohol education or treatment program
- Possible ignition interlock device (IID) installation
A second or subsequent DWI conviction can result in even harsher penalties, including longer jail time, higher fines, and longer license suspension.
It’s important to remember that a DWI charge is a criminal charge and can have serious consequences for your future, including higher insurance rates, difficulty finding employment, and a permanent criminal record. It’s essential to work with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your rights and defend against the charges against you.
In conclusion, if you are charged with DWI in Missouri, it’s important to take the charges seriously and seek legal counsel as soon as possible. A DWI conviction can have far-reaching consequences, so it’s essential to mount a strong defense and protect your rights throughout the legal process.