DWI Attorney in Chesterfield, Missouri
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) seems to be an increasingly common offense. Law enforcement has little tolerance for drivers whose blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds the legal limit. Furthermore, prosecuting attorneys, judges, and the Department of Revenue don't take these cases lightly.
If you are facing drunk driving charges, you may think you should just take your punishment and move on. The problem is, moving on can be difficult when you’re dragging a DWI conviction behind you. Don’t confuse a DWI defense with a DIY project. There is too much at stake to not work with an experienced DWI attorney.
Before I became a criminal defense attorney and opened Walker Law LLC, I was a police officer in the St. Louis metropolitan area. I have seen DWIs from both sides, which gives me a perspective that not every defense lawyer has. If you have been arrested for DWI in Chesterfield, Missouri, or anywhere throughout Cottleville, Chesterfield County, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, contact my firm today.
When Does Missouri Charge Drivers With DWI?
In Missouri, you risk receiving a DWI charge when you’re found to be operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both. If your BAC is .08% or above, .04% as a commercial driver’s license holder, or a mere .02% if you are under the age of 21, you can be convicted of DWI per se. “Per se” means the BAC level alone justifies conviction, even if there is no proof that your ability to operate the vehicle was actually impaired.
Moreover, you do not need to be actually driving the vehicle to be arrested for DWI in Missouri. The law provides only that you be in “actual control” to operate it. That means you could be parked and sleeping in the back seat, but as long as you have the keys on or near you, you are considered under the law to have control.
You can be arrested for DWI in Missouri on public roadways, private drives and property, and even parking lots.
Do I Have to Perform Sobriety Tests in Missouri?
If you are driving in Missouri, you have essentially given your implied consent to undergo sobriety testing at the request of law enforcement. Law enforcement does need probable cause to pull you over or to ask you to submit to a sobriety test at a sobriety checkpoint or if you are sitting in a parked vehicle.
If you were driving and are pulled over, the officer must have witnessed you driving erratically, speeding, crossing the shoulder or lane line, or otherwise appearing to not be in control of the vehicle or breaking the law. When you are pulled over, the officer will ask you questions. Keep in mind that you are being asked questions about the commission of a crime, in this case, driving while under the influence. As such, you have rights regarding your answering of those questions.
You do need to give your full name and produce your driver’s license and proof of insurance upon request. However, you do not need to answer other questions when your answers could be used against you later. Those include such questions as “Have you been drinking?”, or “Where have you been?”, or “Where are you going?” You should be courteous but advise the officer that you will not answer questions without an attorney present, as is your constitutional right.
You can also decline the request to perform any field sobriety tests. In fact, you should. Refusal to perform these tests, such as eye-tracking and the walk-and-turn, cannot be used against you, but poor performance on any of them can.
What you cannot refuse is a request for a test of your breath, blood, or urine. Refusal results in an automatic revocation of your driver’s license, regardless of any result that may come from a criminal prosecution for DWI.
You should also know that there are two separate processes involved with DWI. There is the criminal case brought by the prosecuting attorney, as well as the administrative process taken by the state’s Department of Revenue (DOR). You should work with an attorney to mitigate both processes.
What Are the Penalties for DWI in Missouri?
License suspension or revocation is the penalty for the administrative DWI conviction. You will also need to apply to the DOR for restricted driving privileges or to have your license reinstated when you are eligible.
Possible DWI penalties for criminal convictions depends primarily on the number of DWIs you have had within a certain number of years. Jail can range from up to six months to up to 10 years, fines from up to $1,000 to up to $10,000, and license suspension from 30 days to a revocation of 10 years.
What Will I Need to Do to Drive After DWI?
One of the common requirements for driving on a restricted or “hardship” license or to reinstate your driving privileges when eligible is the use of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). You must breathe into the device and register no alcohol before you will be able to start your vehicle.
IIDs are not inexpensive. You pay for the cost of the IID installation and monitoring over the course of its required use. You will also be required to pay for SR-22 insurance for a period. This is high-risk liability coverage which comes with a high cost as well.
DWI Attorney in Chesterfield, Missouri
You have a lot at stake. You could lose your job, professional certification or licensure, child custody or visitation, friends, and family. You might have made one mistake. Don’t compound it by trying to represent yourself rather than benefit from the representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Call Walker Law LLC now to talk about your case. You don’t have time to wait.