Missouri DWI Statute of Limitations: What You Need to Know

Google 5 star Badge Ozarks min
If you’ve been accused of driving while intoxicated, you need an experienced legal advocate on your side. Call the expert DWI Attorney Springfield MO.

Contact Us


939 N. Boonville, Suite B, Springfield, MO 65802

DWI Law Clinic

Is There a Statute of Limitations on Missouri DWI?


Did you know that a driving while intoxicated case (DWI) can be forfeited if a lot of time is taken to initiate legal proceedings after the DWI incident? Known as a statute of limitations, a statute of limitations specifies the deadline within which legal action must be brought.

Missouri has a statute of limitations on the charge of drunk driving. During this period, the arresting law enforcement officer and the prosecution gather evidence that they will use against you.

For example, the arresting officer may conduct breathalyzer tests to determine whether your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit. They do this to make alcohol-related solid driving charges.

However, you can also use this opportunity to prepare a solid defense by involving a qualified DWI attorney. They will gather evidence supporting your case and ensure you get a fair trial.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on a DWI in Missouri?

Missouri law under Section § 556.036 provides statutes of limitations for different classes of offenses. And since most DWI cases are usually misdemeanors, the statute of limitation is usually one year.

It can, however, be extended to three years if the DWI case is enhanced to a more severe crime.

How Is the Statute of Limitations Determined for a DWI Charge?

To understand how the statute of limitations is determined, you must first understand its purpose. A statute of limitations is intended to ensure that no one interferes with the evidence collected for a case. Its primary purpose is to ensure that suspects are charged as soon as possible. A statute of limitations forces the prosecution to work faster to conclude the case.

A longer statute of limitations may be given for severe DWI cases to allow the prosecution to gather enough evidence.

With that in mind, the DWI statute of limitation varies from state to state. In Missouri, this period is defined by the following factors:

  • The Missouri DWI laws
  • It can also be at the discretion of the judge, who may require the case to be furnished with more evidence
  • It can also be defined by the level of seriousness the DWI case is considered to be. For example, if the case is a misdemeanor or a felony case

You can contact a reputable DWI attorney if you have any questions about DWI statute of limitations.

Is a DWI a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Missouri?

Missouri DWI laws provide a series of classes under section § 577.010 for misdemeanors and Felonies. Keep reading to know these classes.

DWI Misdemeanor

A misdemeanor is a more severe crime than an administrative violation but lesser than a felony.

A DWI in Missouri is considered a Class B misdemeanor. As a result, their punishments tend to be short-lived, such as shorter jail sentences and smaller fines. However, the following sentence may apply if you get arrested, and blood tests show high alcohol or drug content.

  • Driving privileges may be suspended for 30 days for drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) greater than 0.08% while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Getting convicted of a DWI after refusing to take a breath test will result in one year of license suspension.
  • A person convicted of DWI may also be subjected to a court-ordered treatment program.

Your lawyer can help you get out of a DWI misdemeanor or a city ordinance violation if you have not committed any prior DWI offenses.

DWI Felony

In Missouri, if a person has been convicted of DWI or another alcohol related driving offense at least twice, the court will consider their case a felony and charge them as a prior offender or repeat offender. Such person attracts serious alcohol-related enforcement actions. A felony DWI case may result in longer jail time and hefty fines.

If the DWI event resulted in the injury of another person, your case would be regarded as a Class D felony. The case is treated as a Class C felony or Class B felony if the injuries are more serious. But this will defend on the specific circumstances.

Another reason that alcohol related driving charges are escalated to DWI felony crimes is when your DWI offense results in the death of another person or people. Sometimes even causing serious injury due to drunken driving will make your DWI a felony.

Getting in touch with a criminal defense lawyer to help you navigate the murky waters of felonies is essential.

How Long Can a DWI Case Stay Open in Missouri?

The nature of your DWI case will often determine how long the case remains open. For example, it could take only a few months to resolve misdemeanors, while a more complex case like a felony can take much longer.

It is common to see suspects waiting for long periods as they await a charge against them. They can utilize that time by seeking the services of a DWI lawyer to make a proper defense for their case as they wait to be charged with DWI.

Does Missouri Have a Washout Period for DWI?

Yes. In Missouri, the court will look into your Missouri driver record to look at any prior alcohol-related traffic offense in the past five years and not more than that. This is particularly useful when determining whether a DWI case escalates to a felony case or not.

Can a DWI Be Dismissed in Missouri?

Yes. There are plenty of reasons that could result in DWI offenses being dismissed in Missouri. Some of them include:

  • The statute of the limitation period to file a claim has run out
  • If the prosecution fails to provide a speedy trial
  • Dismissing certain crucial pieces of prosecution evidence with evidence.

Get in Touch With a DWI Attorney in Missouri

Suppose you are in Springfield, face a DWI charge, and are unaware of utilizing the statute of limitations to your advantage. In that case, you can contact a DWI Lawyer in Springfield who will give you legal counsel while maintaining a cordial attorney-client relationship.