What Is the Penalty for DWI in Missouri?

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What is the penalty for a DWI in Missouri? Attorneys at Ozarks DWI Clinic can answer that and more. Get resources and help with your charges. Call us now!

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DWI Penalties in Missouri

If you or your loved one has been arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in Missouri, you might be wondering how serious the offense is and the possible penalty upon conviction.

A DWI charge is serious as it is an offense that borders on public safety. Consequently, Missouri DWI laws provide several penalties for DWI offenses ranging from probation to imprisonment. However, the specific penalty or sentence a DWI convict might be subject to varies and depends on several factors, including whether anyone was hurt due to the person’s impaired driving, their criminal record, and whether they’ve had prior convictions for similar offenses.

Regardless of the specific sentence that might be issued, a DWI conviction is serious and should be avoided as much as possible. A conviction appears on your record and could show up on background checks which could deprive you of many opportunities. 

However, if you’re already facing DWI charges, all hope is not lost. You might be able to avoid a conviction if you work with a DWI attorney to fight the charges. Keep reading to learn more.

Elements of DWI Offenses Under Missouri Criminal Law

Driving in an intoxicated or drugged condition has been identified as the foremost cause of road accidents and death in Missouri yearly. Thus anyone who endangers the public and themselves by engaging in such acts can be arrested and prosecuted under Missouri criminal law.

According to the law, any person who physically operates or controls the movement of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, a controlled substance, or a combination of any of these is to be held liable.

The offense is usually prosecuted on the strength of chemical tests of the suspect’s breath, blood, or urine, or saliva. These tests measure the level of alcohol or drugs in the driver’s system. If the chemical or blood test returns a result showing excessive blood alcohol content, usually when the blood alcohol content is 0.08% or more, the driver could be charged of DWI. The BAC figures are lower if the driver is a minor (0.02%) or the driver of a commercial motor vehicle (0.04%).

Penalties for DWI in Missouri

Missouri DWI cases or convictions attract several penalties. The penalties could be criminal or administrative, depending on their source.

Administrative Penalties

Administrative DWI penalties are issued by the Missouri Department of Revenue. The department is empowered to impose these penalties if a suspect’s blood alcohol concentration level exceeds the stipulated legal limit or if they refuse a blood test.

Some of these penalties include:

  • Automatic license suspension
  • Restriction of driving privileges
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.

Note that the department can issue these sanctions once an arresting officer notifies them of the arrest and sends them an Arrest Influence Report Form. Thus, they do not need to wait for a conviction before issuing their administrative sanctions.

However, the department keeps track of DWI convictions in each driver’s Missouri Driver Record and may revoke or deny the license of recurrent offenders as follows:

  • A second DWI offense results in a one-year driver’s license revocation
  • Two DWI convictions in five years may result in a five-year license denial
  • Three or more convictions of drug or alcohol-related traffic offenses may result in a license denial for ten years

Court Issued Criminal Penalties

A DWI conviction attracts several penalties, including imprisonment, probation, payment of fines, and community service. However, there’s a method for the administration of these penalties. Missouri law categorizes DWI offenses into classes depending on their severity.

The specific penalty you can get if convicted depends on the circumstances of the case and the class of offense you were convicted for.

The classes of DWI offenses and their specific penalties that could be issued by a DWI Court in Missouri are highlighted as follows:

Class B Misdemeanor

DWI offenses are generally classified as Class B misdemeanors, especially if it is the suspect’s first DWI offense. The penalty here is imprisonment for a period of not more than six months.

Class A Misdemeanor

A DWI is a Class A misdemeanor if the defendant is a prior offender with a previous conviction for an alcohol-related traffic offense within the last five years. This classification also applies if a child less than 17 years old was in the car while the DWI incident occurred. In such an instance, the defendant may be sentenced to a prison term of not more than a year upon a conviction, probation, or community service for up to 30 days.

Class E Felony

A DWI is a Class E felony if the defendant is a persistent offender with two or more previous DWI convictions or if they caused physical injury to another person while driving under the influence. The penalty for this charge is imprisonment for not more than four years.

Class D Felony

A DWI offense qualifies as a Class D felony if the defendant is an aggravated offender with three or more previous convictions for any alcohol-related driving offense. This classification also applies if the DWI caused serious bodily harm to a law enforcement officer, emergency services personnel, or any other person.

The punishment for this DWI class is a term of imprisonment for not more than seven years.

Class C Felony

A DWI offense can be charged as a Class C Felony if the driver is a chronic offender with four or more previous DWI convictions. This classification also applies if the defendant during the DWI caused serious physical injury to a law enforcement officer or caused the death of another person.

The penalty here is imprisonment for a minimum of three years and not more than ten years. The person can only be granted parole after serving at least two years of their sentence.

Class B Felony

A Class B felony DWI is charged where the defendant is a habitual offender with five or more previous DWI convictions or whose impaired driving caused the death of a law enforcement officer or anyone else. The punishment here is imprisonment for a minimum period of five years and not more than fifteen years.

Class A Felony

This DWI class is exclusively reserved for those who have a previous Class B Felony DWI conviction and who committed another Class B DWI offense.

The penalty here is imprisonment for a minimum period of ten years and not more than thirty years or life imprisonment.

How a DWI Attorney Can Help

A DWI arrest and conviction can have disastrous consequences for your life and should be avoided as much as possible in the first place. Apart from the penalties from the court and the department of revenue, a conviction forms part of your criminal record and may not be eligible for DWI Expungement until a minimum of ten years has passed. A criminal record could make you lose out on important opportunities, which could affect your future.

If you’re facing DWI charges already, you’ll need to fight the charges and defend yourself. As you do so, consider seeking the help of an Experienced DWI Lawyer to represent you.

Your attorney can evaluate your case and help you create a suitable defense strategy where possible. They can also represent you during Department of Revenue hearings or in court and protect your interests during plea bargain negotiations.

You may choose to be represented by an attorney from the Missouri State Public Defender. Still, they often have large caseloads and limited resources, which could affect the quality of their legal services.

Hiring an attorney means that you have a professional that is dedicated to defending you rigorously and fighting to protect your rights and interests, which could lead to a better outcome for you.

Get Help With Your Missouri DWI Charge at Ozarks DWI Law Clinic


If you still have questions about Missouri DWI Laws, offenses, or penalties, or you need a DWI Attorney in Ozark, MO, or anywhere else in Greater Southwest Missouri, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be glad to answer your questions and provide you with the legal resources and experience you need to fight your case.