Drunk driving charges are very serious matters because they can have a profound impact on your entire life. Some people think these are minor charges, but that’s not always the case.
Drunk driving charges are misdemeanor charges in most cases, but there are certain instances in which they become felonies. Whether a drunk driving charge is a felony or a misdemeanor, they come with serious consequences that include probation, fines, driver’s license suspensions and possible incarceration.
When does drunk driving become a felony?
Typically, a first-offense or second-offense drunk driving charge is a misdemeanor. There are exceptions for incidents involving accidents that result in injuries to others.
Once a person has two drunk driving convictions on their record, they can face a felony charge.
- Persistent offender: Class E felony
- Aggravated offender: Class D felony
- Chronic offender: Class C felony
- Habitual offender: Class B felony
It’s also possible to face a class A felony for drunk driving if a person was previously convicted of a class B felony for impaired driving.
How does a drunk driving conviction affect a person?
Missouri laws set specific penalties for drunk driving charges. There are criminal penalties, as well as administrative penalties that occur. This includes losing your ability to drive a vehicle. It’s possible to mitigate some penalties, such as the loss of your driving privileges.
Some individuals will qualify for a restricted driving privilege or a limited driving privilege. These require the use of an ignition interlock and come with specific limitations for when and where you’re allowed to drive.
Commercial drivers also face hardships when they’re convicted of drunk driving. The penalties are serious for these drivers, even on a first offense. The loss of their ability to drive directly impacts their ability to earn a living, so other penalties are difficult to deal with. For example, being able to pay fines or program costs for ignition interlocks can be impossible.
Anyone who’s facing a drunk driving charge should ensure they understand their options for a defense. A conviction can have a considerable impact on your life, especially if the charge is a felony. Working with someone familiar with the criminal and administrative processes in Missouri is beneficial.