Missouri has passed new, stricter, laws for Driving While Intoxicated that took effect in August, 2010. Among other things, these laws increased penalties for those with a high blood alcohol content and also creates a new crime of refusing to submit to a chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) test. The new law also has serious ramifications for limited driving privileges, which are also called “hardship licenses”.
The new DWI/DUI law created new penalties for first time offenders with a high blood alcohol content. Blood alcohol content between .15% and .28% requires at least 48 hours in jail. Any blood alcohol over .28% requires at least five days in jail. Previously there was no mandated jail time for first-time offenders as long as they completed community service. Additionally, the range of punishment for those with a blood alcohol content of .15% is increased for first offenses. Anyone convicted of DWI/DUI below .15% on a first offense is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, which carries up to six months in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Second offenders or those with a blood alcohol content of .15% or higher are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. Additionally, any offense involving a BAC of .15% or over may not be heard in municipal court and must be heard in state court.
Refusing to submit to a chemical blood alcohol content test is now a crime. While refusals always had the administrative effect of driver’s license suspension, first-time refusals are a Class A misdemeanor. Again, Class A misdemeanors carry up to a year in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. Any subsequent refusal is a Class D felony. The range of punishment for a Class D felony is up to a year in the county jail or between one and four years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $5000. As always, the law enforcement officer must have probable cause to believe that you were operating a vehicle in an intoxicated condition to request that you submit to a BAC test. Additionally, refusing to submit to a BAC test is now a moving violation for which two points will be assessed against your driver’s license.
The consequences for driving privileges have also increased. The new law specifies that anyone who operates a vehicle with a BAC of .15% or higher and has no prior alcohol related law enforcement contacts during the previous five years will have their license suspended for ninety days followed by 275 days of restricted driving privilege. Further, the law prohibits anyone who has had their driver’s license suspended in the previous five years for a driving while intoxicated offense and had a BAC of .15% or more from receiving a hardship license until their license has been suspended for at least ninety days followed by 275 days of restricted driving privilege. Finally, the law states that anyone who has been found guilty of refusal to submit to a chemical blood alcohol content test is prohibited from receiving a limited driving privilege.
This article is simply a guideline to Missouri DWI/DUI laws. It does not and should not take the place of competent legal advice. For specific advice, contact an attorney familiar with Missouri DWI/DUI law.