Missouri DWI Laws and the Consequences of Misdemeanor and Felony Convictions

Learn about the penalties—jail time, fines, and license suspsension—for a first, second, and third DWI conviction in Missouri.

The penalties you'll face for a DWI conviction in Missouri depend mainly on the number of prior convictions you have, though other factors are also relevant. This article explains Missouri's DWI laws and the penalties you'll face for a first, second, third, and felony conviction.

Missouri's DWI Laws

Missouri's DWI laws prohibit all motorists from operating or being in "actual physical control" of a motor vehicle:

Any BAC of at least .08% is considered excessive. The BAC threshold is reduced to .04% if the licensee is driving a commercial vehicle. And Missouri has underage DWI laws that prohibit motorists who are under 21 years old from driving with a BAC of .02% or more. (Mo. Ann. Stat. § 577.010.)

The amount of alcohol a person must drink to reach the legal limit depends on a number of individual factors.

Getting a DWI Without Actually Driving

In Missouri, a motorist can get a DWI even without actually driving. The operation of a vehicle is straightforward (driving), but "actual physical control" is broader. Missouri courts have said this includes simply being in a position to restrain or regulate a vehicle's movements.

Missouri First DWI Penalties

A DWI is considered a first offense if the driver has no prior DWI convictions within the past five years and no more than one prior DWI conviction in his or her lifetime. A first DWI is a misdemeanor and carries:

  • up to six months in jail
  • up to $1,000 in fines, and
  • a 30-day license suspension followed by a 60-day restricted license.

However, for drivers with a BAC of .15% or more, there's a minimum 48-hour jail term. And drivers with a BAC of at least .2% must serve at least five days in jail.

Missouri Second DWI Penalties

A DWI is considered a second offense if the driver has one DWI within the last five years. A second DUI is a misdemeanor and carries:

If the judge orders a period of probation, the driver will also need to perform community service.

Missouri Third DWI (Felony) Penalties

A DWI is considered a third offense when the driver has two prior DWIs. A third-offense DWI is a class E felony in Missouri and carries:

  • 30 days to four years in jail
  • up to $10,000 in fines
  • a 10-year license revocation, and
  • a minimum IID requirement of six months.

If the judge orders a period of probation, the driver will also need to perform community service.

Felony DWI Charges in Missouri

As noted above, a third and subsequent DWIs are felonies. But a DWI can also be elevated to a felony if it involved serious injuries or deaths.

DWI Felony Injury Accidents

With no prior convictions, a DUI involving criminal negligence and injuries (non-serious) to another person is a class E felony. The same offense committed with non-serious injuries to law enforcement or emergency services personnel or serious injuries to any person is a class E felony. Finally, if a DUI offender acts with criminal negligence and causes serious injury to an officer or emergency services worker, the offense will be a class C felony.

DWI Felony Fatal Accidents

DUI offenders with no prior convictions who act with criminal negligence and cause the death of another person generally face class C felony charges. If the victim was law enforcement or emergency services, the offense is a class B felony. Causing the death of two or more people or one person with a BAC of .18% or more is also a class B felony.

Implied Consent and Refusing a Blood or Breath Test in Missouri

Missouri's "implied consent" laws require all drivers lawfully arrested for a DWI to submit to a blood, breath, urine, or saliva test. Motorists who refuse testing face a one-year revocation followed by a six-month IID requirement. This suspension is separate from a DWI conviction suspension and may be enforced in addition to any other driver's license limitations.

Plea Bargaining in Missouri DWI Cases

The penalties and repercussions of a DWI can be daunting. However, unlike many other states, Missouri does not strictly prohibit dismissal or pleading down of a DWI charge. Talk to an experienced DWI attorney about the options in your case.

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