Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

To ensure continued federal funding of road projects, most States have adopted the .08 percent blood alcohol limit for driving while intoxicated, or driving under the influence.

More likely than not, you, or someone you know, has operated a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or greater.  Many of the “offenders” have never been stopped, may not feel “drunk,” and may commit no traffic violations after drinking.  Still, chances are that, sooner or later, many drivers will end up at the wrong place, at the wrong time – having one drink too many!

If this has happened to you,  you need an experienced DWI attorney to effectively represent your interests.

 IF YOU ARE CHARGED WITH A DWI, YOU ONLY HAVE 15 DAYS TO SAVE YOUR LICENSE!

If you are charged with a DWI in Missouri, you have only 15 days from the arrest until you lose your license.   If you submit to a breath and test at .08 percent or more blood alcohol content you will receive a 15 day driving permit along with instructions to request an administrative hearing to determine the validity of the arrest and suspension.  If you do not request the hearing within the 15 day period, you will lose your license with no opportunity for appeal or further consideration.  (Sections 302.505 to 302.525 RSMo.) If you refuse to take a breath test, you will recive a 15 day driving permit and be informed that your driver’s license will be revoked for One Year commencing 15 days after the date of the arrest.  You have thirty (30) days in which to file a Petition for Review contesting the revocation with the Court in the County of the arrest, but you have only 15 days in which to apply to the court for a Stay Order allowing you to drive until your petition for review is heard of disposed.  (Section 577.041 RSMo.)   You need to contact an experienced DWI attorney immediately,  to take action to protect your  driver’s license before the 15 day period expires.  We have over 25 years experience defending DWI charges and representing clients charged with DWI.  Contact us today at (314) 725-1880.  There is No Fee to come in and discuss your case.

The following is not meant to be an exhaustive discussion of the law, however, we believe it will provide the reader with valuable information regarding his or her rights, and the mechanics of Missouri law related to drinking and driving.

The DWI Traffic Stop

So what happens in a DWI traffic stop? A typical scenario involves a driver who is pulled over for speeding, weaving, changing lanes or violating an electric signal or stop sign. The officer will approach the vehicle and ask the driver for license and registration.  The officer will ask the driver if he or she has been drinking. Assuming the driver admits drinking and /or the officer observes behavior or other evidence to indicate intoxication, the officer will normally ask the driver to step out of the car and perform a series of field sobriety tests.

STOP RIGHT THERE!

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the driver is YOU.

If you have admitted drinking, you have already gone TOO FAR!

What To Do When You See Flashing Red Lights

  • Pull your vehicle off the road safely and without unreasonable delay.
  • Take the keys out of the ignition.
  • Do not make sudden movements, do not release your seat belt, and do not get out of your vehicle unless you are requested to do so.
  • Be courteous and polite. Give proper identification. Be prepared to give proof of insurance and registration.
  • If you have been drinking, decline to answer any questions about alcohol consumption or take any field sobriety tests until you have been afforded the opportunity to speak with an attorney.
  • Do not consent to the search of your person or your vehicle. It is fair to let the officer know that you will not consent without a warrant.
  • If you have been drinking, do not consent to take a Portable Breath Test, 577.021. (This is an on-site test taken with a portable device about the same size as a deck of cards. It is not a test required under law).

Field Sobriety Testing

Field sobriety tests, (often improperly administered), are used by the police officer to establish probable cause to request a chemical test for alcohol and charge you with driving while intoxicated. Field Sobriety Tests Help the Police to Prosecute you for DWI — They are NOT for your benefit !! A police officer is unlikely to let you go on your way because you performed “well” in a field sobriety test.

You should ask to speak with an experienced DWI before answering ANY questions or taking ANY tests. If you request to speak with an attorney, Missouri law provides that you shall be granted twenty (20) minutes to attempt to contact a lawyer. 577.041, Missouri Revised Statutes.

You are NOT required by law to submit to Field Sobriety Testing!

Imagine this scenario:

Police Officer : “Sir, I’d like you to perform a series of tests to prove to me you’re not intoxicated.”

Suspect: “With respect, officer, I refuse to perform these tests. I have no obligation to prove to you that I’m not intoxicated, and I invoke my Fifth Amendment rights.”

Police Officer : “Sir, why should other people do them for me tonight and not you?”

Suspect: “With respect, officer, I cannot help if other people you stopped did not know their Constitutional Rights.”

Police Officer:  “Sir, please tell me if you have had anything to drink tonight.”

Suspect:  “With respect, officer, I will not answer any questions unless my lawyer is present.  I do not consent to being detained any further, am  I free to go?”

Implied Consent Law

In Missouri, as in most states, the law at Section 577.020, provides that any person who operates a motor vehicle upon the public highways of the state, and is arrested or stopped on reasonable grounds to believe the person is legally intoxicated, shall be deemed to have given consent to submit to a chemical test of the person’s breath, blood, saliva or urine for the purpose of determining blood alcohol content

EXPUNGEMENTS – Do you have a DWI in your past?  You may be able to expunge all records and get a clean slate under Section 577.054 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.

If you have had only one DWI over Ten (10) years ago which was a first-time offense and you have had no subsequent alcohol-related driving offenses or alcohol-related law enforcement contacts, we can obtain an expungement of all records and obtain a court order which will restore you to the status that you held prior to the DWI arrest.  This expungement applies not only to the criminal charge, BUT ALSO to all arrest records and all driver’s license records of any suspension, revocation, or limitation of driving privileges.  Only one expungement is available in a lifetime.  If you qualify, there is no reason to delay.

My office handles expungements in every Missouri Court in the St. Louis area.  Contact me at (314) 725-1880 to see if you qualify.

FELONY DWI CHARGE – SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES

Do you have two or more DWI convictions?

Do you have two or more DWI convictions? No matter how long ago, or which state or states you were convicted of DWI, you may be facing felony DWI charges if you have two or more prior DWI convictions when you are pulled over in Missouri on suspicion of drunk driving. Missouri law provides that convicted multiple DWI offenders face extremely harsh penalties. You will need an experienced DWI defense attorney who is prepared to take you case to trial because sometimes there are no “deals” to be made and the only way to win is to go court.

A person convicted of a felony DWI charge faces serious consequences, including:

• Jail time
• High fines
• Inability to vote
• Inability to own firearms
• Inability to obtain a concealed carry permit
• Inability to serve on jury duty
• Inability to hold public office

If you have been charged with your third or subsequent DWI, contact our St. Louis DWI defense lawyer as soon as possible by calling (314) 725-1880

Below are the possible penalties for a DWI conviction, based upon the number of prior DWI convictions.

  • 1st Conviction: Up to a year in jail, or by a fine between $600 and $2,100, or both.  Driver’s license suspended for 90 days.
  • 2nd Conviction (within five years): Mandatory jail time of at least five days, but up to one year, or instead, mandatory community service for at least 30 days.  Mandatory fine of between $1,100 and $5,100.  Driver’s license revoked for a year.
  • 3rd Conviction: Mandatory jail time of at least 60 days, but up to one year.  Mandatory fine of between $2,100 and $10,100.  Driver’s license revoked for three years.
  • 4th or Subsequent Conviction: Counts as a “Class C felony.”  Mandatory jail time of at least one year, but up to ten years.  Mandatory fine of between $4,100 and $10,100.  Driver’s license revoked for five years

 

 

CHANGES IN MISSOURI DWI LAWS EFFECTIVE 8/28/2010

Sweeping changes in Missouri’s  DWI law, ( H .B. 1695),  went into effect August 28, 2010.  There will be new procedures for both repeat and high risk offenders.  A “High Risk” offender is deemed to be anyone who registers a Blood Alcohol Content  in excess of .15%.  High risk offenders will not be able to receive a suspended imposition of sentence (the most favobable type of probation resulting in lack of conviction) unless they participate in a special DWI court and various programs.

Section 479.170.2 RSMo,  removes the “authority” of municipal courts  to hear intoxication-related cases if the Defendant has two or more “intoxication-related” or “alcohol-related” law enforcement contacts or the defendant blows .15% or above. That does not mean convictions, but contacts.  In other words,  if you are charged with a DWI and your license is administratively suspended, that is two “alcohol-related” law enforcement contacts.  Basically, the vast majority of DWIs will now have to be filed at the county level, where penalties are likely to be more severe than for cases filed in municipal court.

Chapter 478, Missouri Revised Statutes now authorizes the establishment of “DWI Courts”,  as “an alternative for the judicial system to dispose of cases“, and only “DWI Courts” can impose a suspended imposition of sentence, (SIS), if the defendant has a BAC of .15% and above, or the defendant has had a prior alcohol related conviction, ever.  In order to qualify as a “DWI Court”, (R.S.Mo 478.007),  the court must “combine judicial supervision, drug testing, continuous alcohol monitoring, substance abuse traffic offender program compliance and treatment.”  The court can require the defendant to pay for these mandatory court ordered services, or sit in jail.  ?

There are also new reporting requirements for DWI cases:   R.S. Mo 577.006.2  — “Each municipal judge shall adopt a written policy requiring that municipal court personnel timely report all dispositions of all charges for intoxication-related traffic offences to the central repository.”, (Highway Patrol Central Repository, R.S.Mo 43.503)   …  “The clerk of the courts of each county or city not within a county or municipal court clerk shall furnish the central repository, on standard forms supplied by the highway patrol or in a manner approved by the highway patrol, with a record of all charges filed, including all those added subsequent to the filing of a criminal court case, amended charges, and all final dispositions of cases for which the central repository has a record of an arrestor a record of fingerprints reported …”     …    and R.S. Mo 577.006.3  — the municipal division of circuit courts,  ”  … shall prepare a report every 6 months.  The report shall include, but shall not be limited to, the total number and disposition of every intoxication-related traffic offense adjudicated, dismissed or pending in it’s municipal court division   …  The report shall be submitted to the circuit court en banc no later than sixty days following the end of the reporting period.”   More cross-checks to monitor for those with prior alcohol contacts.

Particularly disturbing is  Section  577.039  which removes the need for a warrant when “the arresting officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has violated the section, whether or not the violation occurred in the presence of the arresting officer and when such arrest without warrant is made within one and one-half hours after such claimed violation occurred …”    Which seems to indicate that you can be arrested in your home, or place of employment , without a warrant,  if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you operated your vehicle, (whether or not he observed you), an hour and a half earlier.  Additionally, a warrant will no longer be necessary to compel a defendant to give blood for a blood test.

 

 

I have been defending people charged with DWI for over 25 years.   If you have been charged with DWI, there is no time of lose.  There is never a fee to discuss your case.  Contact me today at (314) 725-1880.   Lloyd Nolan

DISCLAIMER: THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION WAS OF A GENERAL NATURE AND NOT MEANT TO CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR TO BE USED IN, OR APPLIED TO, ANY INDIVIDUAL SITUATION. THIS GENERAL INFORMATION IS APPLICABLE TO THE STATE OF MISSOURI AND MAY NOT BE VALID UNDER THE LAWS OF OTHER STATES. IF THE READER HAS SPECIFIC LEGAL QUESTIONS, HE OR SHE SHOULD CONTACT AN ATTORNEY.