Common Myths About DWIs
Jan. 11, 2022
DWIs are fairly common these days. It is a crime that many people commit, regardless of their job, educational background, wealth, age, or marital status. Perhaps due to the prevalence of DWI arrests, there are many common myths surrounding them. Everyone, it seems, is an expert.
If you are facing a DWI charge, you also need to face the facts. Doing so is the only way you can get the best result possible in the legal system. You can get the facts by working with Walker Law LLC. As a former police officer in the St. Louis area and St. Charles area, I have seen and heard it all. As a criminal defense lawyer representing clients in Chesterfield, Missouri, Town and Country, Cottleville, Wentzville, and throughout St. Charles and St. Louis counties, I am dedicated to dispelling the common myths about DWIs.
How Do DWI Charges Work in Missouri?
As is true in most states, Missouri has little tolerance for people operating motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You can be charged with DWI if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08% or higher. If you are operating a commercial vehicle, the limit is .04%, and if you are under the age of 21, which is the legal age to consume alcohol, the limit is only .02%. You can also be charged if you are in an intoxicated condition caused by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two regardless of BAC.
Those arrested for drunk driving undergo two processes in Missouri. There is the criminal procedure in which you are charged with DWI and prosecuted in court. There is also the administrative procedure in which your license is suspended or revoked, and you must meet certain requirements to obtain limited driving privileges or even full reinstatement of your license.
Now that you know the basics, here are some common myths and the facts about DWI charges in Missouri.
DWI charges are so common, they are not serious.
It is true they are common; however, it is false that DWI charges are not serious. Even a conviction for a first offense can result in up to six months in jail or probation, license suspension, alcohol and drug counseling programs, fines, and a requirement for an interlock ignition device (IID). Moreover, a conviction gives you a criminal record which could bar you from applying for certain jobs, promotions, student loans, and even affect a child custody agreement. Your record can also affect professional licensure and certifications.
I have to submit to a field sobriety test
when requested by law enforcement.
You can politely refuse to submit to a field sobriety test if requested. Field sobriety tests are unreliable and easy to perform poorly on even if you are completely sober. These tests include the horizontal gaze test, the walk-and-turn, and stand-on-one-leg tests. Normal issues with coordination and balance, uneven surfaces, flashing lights, and other issues can cause you to “fail” these tests. Poor performance can be used against you. There is also no requirement that you submit to a preliminary breath test, which is typically given roadside as well.
When arrested for DWI, I don’t have to
submit to tests of my blood or urine.
Refusal to take these tests can harm you. Missouri observes “implied consent,” which means that anyone who operates a vehicle in the state agrees to submit to tests of their breath, blood, and urine if requested by law enforcement in a lawful stop. Refusal to submit to these tests can result in the automatic revocation of your license for one year. This action is separate from any criminal charges, and you suffer it even if you are found not guilty of the DWI or charges are dismissed.
When stopped, I have to answer all the
questions asked by law enforcement.
You are required only to provide the officer with answers to basic questions, such as your name and address, and to produce your license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. You are not required to answer questions such as where you have been, what and how much you have had to drink, drugs you have taken, and other similar questions. You are entitled to have an attorney present when those questions are asked, and it is wise to politely advise the officer that you do not want to answer them without an attorney.
A DWI will fall off my record.
A DWI can remain on your criminal record for life unless you take steps to have it removed. You cannot begin the expungement process until 10 years after the conviction for a first DWI only and only if you have no other DWIs or criminal convictions during that 10-year period. You are entitled to only one DWI expungement in Missouri during your lifetime.
A DWI charge isn’t worth fighting.
A DWI charge is always worth fighting. The short- and long-term consequences of a conviction make fighting DWI charges absolutely worth the effort. A knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer can challenge everything from the legality of the stop to alternative substances that might have skewed chemical test results, to the reliability of testing equipment and the proficiency of the testing process.
Even if you are convicted, your lawyer can argue for less than the maximum penalties and help you obtain limited driving privileges, or keep your existing driving privileges, if you qualify.
Getting the Representation You Need
The potential fallout from being convicted of even a first DWI is life-changing, and not for the better. As a former police officer and a long-time DWI defense lawyer, I have seen DWIs ruin lives. I have also been challenged to change them.
If you have been charged with DWI in Wentzville, Missouri, or the surrounding areas, fight back. Call Walker Law LLC now.