A person commits the crime of driving while intoxicated if he/she operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated or drugged condition. The legal limit in the State of Missouri is .08% for adults and .02% for minors. The criminal penalties for a DWI include imprisonment, probation, fines and court costs. It will also result in points assessed against the driver’s license.
Separate from the criminal charges, the Missouri Department of Revenue Driver License Bureau has administrative sanctions. These sanctions include the suspension and revocation of the driver’s license. The driver is required to complete SATOP, make an SR-22 filing to prove financial responsibility, and pay a fee for license reinstatement once the revocation or suspension period has passed. Once the revocation period has passed and the driver has fulfilled all the reinstatement requirements of the Department of Revenue Driver License Bureau, the driver’s license will be reinstated.
When a driver is pulled over and is suspected of driving while intoxicated, the police officer will administer field sobriety tests. Three tests make up the National Highway Traffic Administration Standardized Field Sobriety Testing battery. The three tests are horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg-stand test. Missouri’s implied consent law requires a driver to submit to a breathalyzer test when arrested for DWI. Basically, Missouri’s implied consent law states that if a person operates a motor vehicle in Missouri then the person has consented to submit to a chemical test or breathalyzer when pulled over and intoxication is suspected.
If a breath test is requested and the driver requests to speak to an attorney before blowing, the driver is allowed twenty (20) minutes in which to attempt to contact an attorney. If after the twenty minutes the person continues to refuse to blow, it is deemed a refusal to take the test. When requesting the test, the officer will inform the driver that evidence of a refusal may be used against the person and that the driver’s license shall be immediately revoked upon refusal to take the test. The revocation period is one year.
The Prosecuting Attorney will begin the criminal court process after the DWI arrest. The State of Missouri has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the DWI occurred. The driver has the right to be represented by an attorney throughout the entire process. For a felony DWI, a preliminary hearing will be scheduled. The preliminary hearing is a testimonial hearing where the prosecutor must prove that probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. The driver can waive the preliminary hearing. If the judge finds that probable cause does exist, then a trial will be held to determine if the driver committed a DWI beyond a reasonable doubt.
A minor is subject to Missouri’s Abuse and Lose law. Anyone under the age of 21 years may have his or her driving privileges revoked for ninety (90) days for first offense or one (1) year for subsequent offenses for an alcohol related traffic offense.