Of the 1,128 deaths that occurred on Missouri highways in 2004, 359 involved a driver who was over the legal limit of .08. 219 of those deaths involved a driver who was twice the legal limit.
Consumption While Driving: Consuming alcohol while operating a motor vehicle is a crime in Missouri. It is classified as an “infraction” and carries a $200 fine.
Driving While Intoxicated: It is also illegal to drive a car while intoxicated or in a drugged condition. This carries with it no “legal limit” but is a subjective level based on field sobriety tests.
Driving with an Excessive Blood Alcohol Content: The legal limit in Missouri is a BAC of .08.
These two crimes are punished in almost the exact same way. The sole difference is that a suspended sentence is available for the first DWI, provided that 2 years of probation are given.
First Offense: The first offense is a “Class B Misdemeanor” which is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $500. As stated above, for the first DWI, the court may decide to only impose a sentence of 2 years of probation.
Second Offense: Second convictions are classified as “Class A Misdemeanors” which are punishable with up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1000. Second offenders are eligible for parole after they have served a minimum of five days in jail. As a condition of parole, the court will require at least 30 days of community service.
Third Offense: The third offense is given “Persistent Offender” status. This is a “Class D Felony” which carries between one and four years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Persistent Offenders are eligible for parole when they have served 10 days in jail. As a condition of their parole, the court will require at least 60 days of community service.
“Aggravated Offenders”: This title is applied to those drivers who have (a) 3 or more offenses or (b) a drunk driving offense that resulted in the death or serious injury of another person. These are classified as “Class C Felonies” and are punished by one to seven years in prison, and a fine of up to $5,000. Aggravated Offenders are eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 60 days in prison.
“Chronic Offenders”: Chronic Offenders are those drivers who have (a) four or more offenses, (b) two or more offenses that resulted in the death or serious injury to another, or (c) two or more offenses where one of those involved the death of another. This is a “Class B Felony” which is punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison. Chronic Offenders become eligible for parole after serving 2 years.
While Missouri says that all drivers are deemed to have consented to chemical tests, you may still refuse. Missouri law states that you have 20 minutes after being pulled over to attempt to contact an attorney and discuss your options. However, at the end of that time, whether you have gotten in touch with your attorney or not, you must decide.
Refusal to submit to a test results in the immediate revocation of your license. You will be issued a 15 day temporary permit. The officer will present a report to the administrator stating that (a) he pulled you over, (b) he had reasonable grounds to believe you were guilty of a DWI, and (c) that you refused to submit to the test. These are the only issues that the court will decide.
If you contest this report, you will appear in front of a circuit court judge who will decide only those three issues. If he finds that the officer pulled you over, had reasonable grounds to believe you were driving while intoxicated, and that you refused a chemical test, your license suspension will be upheld. The license will be suspended for a year and will not be reinstated until you complete a Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program.