If you failed a breathalyzer test when you were stopped for drunk driving, you might feel like you’ve been caught red-handed, and you should just take your punishment. While your sense of responsibility is admirable, it might not be the smartest move. Penalties for DWI are severe in Missouri, and you could end up losing a lot more than you deserve. Whether you were really impaired while you were driving or not, you deserve an aggressive DWI defense attorney who will fight to get you the best possible outcome.
Penalties for DWI in Missouri
Called Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Operating While Impaired (OWI) in other states, drunk driving is charged as Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Missouri, and it carries serious penalties. The more times you are caught driving drunk, and the higher your blood alcohol content is at the time of your arrest, the more severe your punishment becomes. General sentencing guidelines for DWI in Missouri are as follows:
- First offense. A first offense carries penalties of up to six months in jail, up to $500 in fines, and a 90-day license suspension.
- Second offense. You can be sentenced to up to a year in jail, be fined up to $1000, and receive a one- to five-year license suspension the second time you are charged.
- Third offense. A third DWI is considered a felony offense. The penalties include up to four years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, and a license suspension of up to10 years.
- Subsequent offenses. Convictions beyond the third offense carry mandatory minimum prison sentences and a 10-year license denial.
As you can see, even first-time offenders could suffer devastating consequences beyond their criminal penalties. Losing your job, access to transportation, custody of your children, and more are all possible after a DWI conviction in Missouri.
This Is Why You Should Defend Yourself
Police in Missouri pursue drunk drivers aggressively, and it is not unusual for them to overstep their authority—and your legal rights—to make an arrest. It is possible that your Constitutional rights were violated during your arrest or that the field sobriety equipment used to measure your blood alcohol level was faulty. When we defend clients charged with DWI, we will do all of the following that apply to your situation:
- Investigate the arrest for procedural violations
- Get charges reduced or dismissed
- Suppress illegally obtained evidence
- Challenge blood alcohol measuring tests
- Argue for a hardship driver’s license
- Appear at state licensing hearings
- Argue extenuating circumstances to get lesser penalties
The actions we take on your behalf will depend on the specifics of your case, but you can be sure we will aggressively pursue all options to secure the best possible outcome. In some cases, we can successfully negotiate to have a DWI charge reduced to a reckless driving charge, which carries fewer serious consequences. Sometimes referred to as a “wet” reckless driving charge, you will still be fined and get points on your license, but you will avoid having a criminal record for DWI.
Worried About the Cost of an Attorney?
Yes, attorney fees can seem high, but have you considered the true cost of NOT hiring a skilled and experienced DWI attorney? In addition to steep fines, a drunk driving conviction will cost you employment opportunities, weaken your bargaining position in divorce and custody proceedings, and negatively affect your personal and professional reputations. If it is your minor or young adult child who is facing charges, they could lose a chance at a college education, access to affordable insurance, and much more. The sooner you contact our DWI legal team, the more options we will have to defend you.
Call Us as Soon as Possible
From our Cape Girardeau and Perryville offices, the criminal defense attorneys at Layton & Southard serve clients charged with DWI throughout Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Contact us as soon as you can after a DWI arrest so that we can get to work for you.