There wouldn’t be laws against drinking and driving if it wasn’t actually dangerous. The reality is it’s not easy to be in full control of your vehicle if you’ve had one too many drinks. So, if a police officer pulls you over and finds solid evidence that you aren’t completely sober, then the consequences you face won’t be as light as they are for many other traffic violations.
Having a criminal charge on your record can be a lot to process. Instead of getting in over your head, you should keep in mind that no charges will be final until your court date. And to prepare for that day, a dedicated criminal law attorney can help you take the legal process one step at a time. Ahead of your trial, some of your preparation can begin with looking into the legal penalties and long-term consequences of a DWI.
In Missouri, state law doesn’t allow you to get off with a warning for DWI — not even if you have a clean record. In fact, first-time offenders receive a Class B misdemeanor charge. Other penalties for a first DWI offense can include up to six months in jail and a fine as high as $500. Depending on the offender’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, the minimum jail time first-time offenders face is two to five days. But, repeat DWI offenders may receive much longer sentences and have to pay higher fines.
Additionally, first-time offenders could receive court-ordered alcohol treatment if their BAC is over 0.15%. Plus, first-time offenders can plan for a 90-day suspension of their driver’s license. Similar to jail time, consequential DWI charges can result in longer suspension time or license revocation.
In addition to the legal penalties, there are lasting consequences that may take place, including:
- Inability to keep your job if it requires a valid driver’s license
- Difficulty landing a job with a criminal record
- Friends or loved ones losing trust in you
- Higher car insurance rates
Understanding the legal and lifestyle ramifications you may face can help a dedicated legal professional come up with the best defense for your case.