Missouri’s DWI (driving while intoxicated) laws prohibit operating a vehicle while in an intoxicated condition. Although Missouri’s statutes use the term “driving while intoxicated” (DWI), many people still refer to the offense as “driving under the influence” or “DUI.” (Missouri also has BWI (boating while intoxicated) laws that extend this prohibition to the operation of a motorboat.)
Operation of a vehicle. Operation of a vehicle includes driving and being in actual physical control of a vehicle. And being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle doesn’t require that the car actually be in motion—only that the driver be in a position to restrain vehicle or regulate the vehicle’s movements.
Intoxicated condition. A driver is in an “intoxicated condition” if under the influence of any combination of drugs, alcohol or controlled substances or he or she has excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Missouri law defines “excessive” as having a BAC of .08% or more (for commercial drivers, .04% or more).
Generally, a third-offense DWI is a class E felony in Missouri. A DWI is considered a “third offense” when the driver has two prior DWIs. Convicted drivers typically face jail, a fine, and license suspension. This article discusses the specific penalties you’ll face if convicted of a third DWI in Missouri.
Jail time. A third-offense DWI carries up to four years in jail. Judges can “suspend” the jail sentence, but they do so, must place the offender on two years of probation or require the offender to complete substance abuse treatment. In cases where the jail sentence is suspended, the convicted driver must serve at least 30 days in jail or perform a minimum 60 days of community service.
The court can also require the offender to participate in continuous alcohol monitoring and/or random testing. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in the imposition of a previously suspended jail sentence.
Fines. A person who’s convicted of a third-offense DWI faces up to $10,000 in fines. In addition to fines, drivers might be required to pay various fees, treatment funds, and court costs.
If a third offense involved aggravating factors such as an accident or serious injuries, the driver might face enhancement penalties.
Apart from the criminal charges, the State of Missouri will also administratively revoke a driver’s license for a DWI. If the driver has two prior DWI suspensions or convictions, the revocation period is one year. (If convicted in criminal court of a third DWI, the licensee will not be eligible for license reinstatement for at least ten years.) Following the revocation period, the licensee may be eligible for reinstatement but must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for at least six months.
Prior to reinstatement, the licensee will have to complete a state-approved substance abuse traffic offender program.
The consequences of a DWI conviction in Missouri are serious, especially if you have prior convictions. If you’ve been arrested for driving while intoxicated, get in touch with a knowledgeable local DWI attorney.