What Is a Felony DWI in Missouri?

Aggravating factors that can make a drunk driving charge a felony.

In Missouri, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while actually in an intoxicated condition from drinking alcohol or using drugs. Most DWI convictions are misdemeanors. But, in certain circumstances, a DWI can be charged as a felony.

Here are some of the circumstances that can result in felony DWI charges in Missouri.

Third or Subsequent DWI Conviction Is a Felony

Generally, a first or second DWI is a misdemeanor in Missouri. But when a driver has two or more prior DWI convictions, the current offense will be a felony.

Third offense. Anyone convicted of a third DWI is considered a "persistent offender." A persistent offender DWI is a class E felony and carries up to $10,000 in fines and a maximum four years in prison.

Fourth offense. Anyone convicted of a fourth DWI is considered an "aggravated offender." An aggravated offender DWI is a class D felony and carries up to $10,000 in fines and a maximum seven years in prison.

Fifth offense. Drivers convicted of a fifth DWI are considered "chronic offenders." A chronic offender DWI is a class C felony and carries up to $10,000 in fines and three to ten years in prison.

Sixth offense. Drivers convicted of a sixth DWI are considered "habitual offenders." A habitual offender DWI is a class B felony and carries five to 15 years in prison.

Felony Charges for DWIs Involving Injuries and Deaths

A DWI offender who kills or injures another person will likely face felony charges. The specific classification and penalties for one of these offenses depend on a number of factors, including the driver's record and whether the person killed or injured was a law enforcement officer or emergency services personnel.

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.

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.

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