Serving Missouri, St. Louis and Surrounding areas
Definitions, as defined in Missouri Statute: 577.001 RSMo. (1) “drive”, “driving”, “operates” or “operating” means physically driving or operating a vehicle or vessel. (2) As used in this chapter, a person is in an “intoxicated condition” when he/she is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or drug, or a combination thereof.
Missouri Revised Statute 577.010 is the core DWI / DUI Statute in Missouri. This is the Statute describing the required elements of the offense, as well as the penalties. It is applicable in all Counties in the State of Missouri.
577.010 RSMo.: Driving while intoxicated: A person commits the crime of “driving while intoxicated” if he operates a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated or drugged condition. It is very important for the reader to note that the Statute is not limited to alcohol, and “drugged”, can include drugs taken under prescription.
577.012 RSMo.: Driving with excessive blood alcohol content: A person commits the crime of “driving with excessive blood alcohol content” if such person operates a motor vehicle in this state with .08 of one percent or more by weight of alcohol in such person’s blood. This offense, also known as BAC, is commonly thought of as a lesser offense than DWI. Due to changes in the law, however, an amendment of a DWI to a BAC will generally not lessen the impact of a conviction, and therefore other defense tactics must be sought.
PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION: The penalties for violation of the laws relating to DWI/DUI and BAC, normally fall into two categories. First, are the criminal penalties for violation of the relevant statute, which may be imposed by the Court. These penalties include things like fines, possible jail time, community service and completion of educational programs. The second type of penalties are civil in nature, and generally come from the Missouri Department of Revenue, Driver’s License Bureau, in the form of license suspensions and revocations. For purposes of discussion here, I will focus on the criminal penalties only. An entire separate page is devoted to the civil penalties. (Click on License Suspension Information page)
Under 577.010.2 RSMo., Driving while intoxicated, and also 577.012.3 RSMo., Driving with excessive blood alcohol content (BAC), are, for the first offense, a class B misdemeanor. This means that, even on a first offense, the range of punishment available to the Court, is up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000.00, in fines. Fortunately, however, the maximum is rarely ever imposed. The key words are “up to” meaning the Judge is free to sentence anywhere within this range. The Court may grant complete probation; and in certain situations, the Court may even be willing to grant a suspended imposition of sentence (S.I.S.), which under Missouri law, is not a conviction.
PRIOR AND PERSISTENT OFFENDER STATUTES: Under 577.023.1(3) RSMo., a “prior offender” is a person who had pleaded guilty to or has been found guilty of one intoxication-related traffic offense, where such prior offense occurred within five years of the occurrence of the intoxication-related traffic offense for which the person is charged. DWI / DUI, BAC, and certain other offenses (defined under the definition of “intoxication-related traffic offense”) are all included as priors for this purpose. Generally speaking, if you have a prior within the last 5 years, (of the occurrence) of the present offense, you can be charged as a prior offender. Under 577.023.1(2) RSMo., a “persistent offender” is a person who has pleaded guilty to or has been found guilty of two or more intoxication related traffic offenses, where such two or more offenses occurred within ten years of the occurrence of the intoxication-related traffic offense for which the person is charged. Again, generally speaking, if you have two or more priors within 10 years, (of the occurrence) of the present offense, you can be charged as a persistent offender.
The significance of the prior and persistent offender statutes, involves several things. First, in regard to the prior offender statute, it is a class A misdemeanor, which doubles the range of punishment from the Court, to up to 1 year in jail, and/or up to $2,000.00 in fines. For a persistent offender, it may now be charged as a class E felony, which carries up to 4 years in prison. In addition, prior and persistent offenders are barred by statute from any eligibility to receive a suspended imposition of sentence. 577.023.1(3)4 RSMO. goes on to state that; No prior offender shall be eligible for parole or probation until he has served a minimum of ten days imprisonment, unless as a condition of such parole or probation such person performs at least 30 days of community service under the supervision of the court in those jurisdictions which have a recognized program for community service. No persistent offender shall be eligible for parole or probation until he or she has served a minimum of 30 days imprisonment, unless as a condition of such parole or probation such person performs at least 60 days of community service under the supervision of the court.
IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICE: 577.600.1 RSMO. ”In addition to any other provisions of law, a court may require that any person who is found guilty of or pleads guilty to a first intoxication-related traffic offense, as defined in section 577.023, and a court shall require that any person who is found guilty of or pleads guilty to a second or subsequent intoxication-related traffic offense, as defined in section 577.023, shall not operate any motor vehicle unless that vehicle is equipped with a functioning, certified ignition interlock device for a period of not less than one month from the date of reinstatement of the person’s driver’s license. In addition any court authorized to grant a limited driving privilege under section 302.309, RSMO., to any person who is found guilty of , or pleads guilty to a second or subsequent intoxication-related traffic offense shall require the use of an ignition interlock device on all vehicles operated by the person as a required condition of the limited driving privilege.” This statute is poorly written. Essentially, what it says is that on a first offense, the requirement is discretionary with the court. On a second offense, the court is required to order it. The last part says that if you obtain a limited driving privilege (Hardship license) from a court, to drive under a suspension/revocation resulting from a second or subsequent conviction, the court is again required to order it as a condition of the Hardship license. Finally, note that violation of any order from a court to use an interlock device is a Class A Misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and/or up to $2,000.00 in fines). Although it may not last for long, at the time of this writing, there is a wide variation in the enforcement of this statute by the courts. By law, the courts don’t have a choice on a second offense. However, it is still sometimes possible to avoid having the court order it in the first place, depending on the jurisdiction, or the judge or the particular case.
EXPUNGEMENT OF CONVICTION FROM RECORDS
577.054 RSMO.: EXPUNGEMENT: One of the most overlooked statutes dealing with DWI offenses in Missouri law, is also one of the most important. It is the Missouri Statute dealing with expungement of DWI/ BAC convictions from a person’s record. The statute is limited in use, but where available, it will not only remove (expunge) the conviction from a person’s criminal record, but it will also remove it from the person’s driving record. The expungement of a conviction can make a huge difference regarding employment, insurance, etc. It can also make a big difference if a future conviction should ever occur. The reader should note that it will be too late to seek expungement of a prior conviction once a second offense is charged. The statute states, “After a period of not less than ten years, and individual who has pleaded guilty or has been convicted for a first offense alcohol related driving offense which is a misdemeanor or a county or city ordinance violation and which is not a conviction for driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and who since such date has not been convicted of any other alcohol related driving offense may apply to the court in which he pled guilty or was sentenced for an order to expunge from all official records all recordations of his arrest, plea, trial or conviction. If the court determines after hearing that such person has not been convicted of any alcohol related driving offense in the ten years prior to the date of the application for expungement, and has no other alcohol related enforcement contacts as defined in section 302.525 RSMO., during that ten year period, the court shall enter an order of expungement. The effect of such order shall be to restore such person to the status he occupied prior to such arrest, plea or conviction and as if such event had never taken place.
Kevin J. roach is a St. Louis DWI defense attorney who has defended thousands of DWI and DUI cases in the St. Louis Metro area. Call us today at (636) 519-0085 or (866) 519-0085 for your Free Consultation!