Missouri courts take Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges seriously. Whether you recently received a DUI charge or know someone who has, understanding how Missouri handles DUIs can help you approach your case with more confidence.

How Is a DUI Defined in Missouri?

Individuals aged 21 or over qualify for a DUI if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher at the time of testing. Individuals under 21 qualify for a DUI with a BAC of 0.02% or higher.

If you meet the required BAC or are otherwise intoxicated, and are in "actual physical control" of the vehicle, you can be charged with DUI. It's important to note that to be in "actual physical control," you don't necessarily have to be driving. It just means that you must possess the potential to control the vehicle.

So, hypothetically, you could still be charged with a DUI sitting in the front passenger seat if your BAC is 0.08% or higher because, while you're in the passenger seat, you have the potential to grab the wheel and control the vehicle. For this reason, it's always wise to sit in the back of the car if you're under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Missouri is an "implied consent" state, which means that drivers in the state automatically consent to breath tests or other means of DUI identification by law enforcement professionals (LEPs) when they get behind the wheel.

However, Missouri has a unique implied consent statute that allows drivers to take 20 minutes and consult with a lawyer about whether they should take a DUI breath test. Should you refuse a breath test, the Missouri director of revenue will revoke your driving privileges for one year.

DUI Penalties in Missouri

DUI offenders in Missouri face the following penalties:

  • First offense. First-time offenders receive up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,00, and a 30-day license suspension followed by a 60-day license restriction (while your license is suspended, you can only go to certain vital locations like work or a gas station to refuel your vehicle). However, if you install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle, you can receive a restricted license immediately instead of waiting for the 30-day license suspension to expire.
  • Second offense. Second-time offenders receive up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, and a five-year license revocation (or a six-month revocation with an IID).
  • Third offense. Third-time offenders receive up to four years in jail, fines of up to $10,000, and a ten-year license revocation (or a six-month revocation with an IID).

Charges may vary depending on the conditions of your DUI. For example, first-time offenders are often punished less harshly than repeat offenders.

Causing damage to property and injuring or killing another individual while under the influence also increases the severity of the charges, and typically graduates charges from a Class B Misdemeanor to a Class C Felony. That's important to know because while misdemeanors can be expunged or sealed from your criminal record, expunging or sealing a felony is often impossible.

At Smith Law Offices, LLC, our attorneys have experience helping clients navigate DUI cases. To arrange a consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us online or via phone at (636) 400-1177.

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