In Missouri, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle while in an intoxicated condition. “Driving while intoxicated” (DWI) is the term used by the statutes, but lots of people still use “driving under the influence” or “DUI” when referring to the offense. (Missouri also has statutes that prohibit operation of a motorboat while intoxicated (BWI).)
Operation of a vehicle. For purposes of the DWI laws, “operation" of a vehicle includes driving and being in actual physical control of a vehicle. To be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle, the vehicle doesn’t have to be actually in motion—the driver just needs to be in a position to restrain vehicle or regulate the vehicle’s movements.
Intoxicated condition. “Intoxicated condition” means the person is under the influence of any combination of drugs, alcohol or controlled substances or has an excessive blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A driver’s BAC is considered “excessive” if it’s at .08% or more (or .04% or more for commercial drivers).
Generally, a second-offense DWI is a class A misdemeanor in Missouri. A DWI is considered a “second offense” if the driver has one DWI within the last five years. Convicted motorists typically face probation or treatment, a fine, and license suspension. This article discusses the specific penalties you’ll face if convicted of a second DWI in Missouri.
Jail time. A second-offense DWI carries a maximum jail sentence of one year. However, a judge can “suspend” an offender’s jail sentence and, instead, impose two years of probation or substance abuse treatment. However, even if the jail sentence is suspended, the convicted motorist must serve at least ten days in jail or perform a minimum 30 days of community service.
The judge can also order 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 second-offense DWI faces fines of up to $2,000. In addition to fines, drivers may be required to pay various fees and court costs.
Aggravating factors such as accidents, minor passengers, and serious injuries can lead to more serious penalties and offense classification.
Apart from the criminal charges and consequences, the State of Missouri will also administratively revoke a driver’s license for a second DWI. At the time of the arrest, the officer seizes the motorist’s license and issues a temporary permit. After expiration of the temporary permit, the driver’s license is ordinarily revoked for one year if the driver has one prior DWI suspension or conviction within the past five years. (If convicted of a second DWI, the licensee will not be eligible for reinstatement for at least five years.) After the revocation period, the driver’s license can be reinstated; however, the driver must use an ignition interlock device (IID) on any operated vehicle for at least six months following reinstatement.
Prior to reinstatement, the licensee will have to complete a state-approved substance abuse traffic offender program.
The consequences of a DWI can be quite serious. But with the help of a knowledgeable attorney, it might be possible to mitigate the consequences you face. Unlike many states, Missouri doesn’t prohibit dismissal or pleading down of a DWI. Talk to a qualified DWI attorney in your area to find out what your options are.