Introduction To Multiple DWI’s

In the 80s you could jump in your vehicle after a few beers at the bar and drive home – if you were unlucky enough to get pulled over it would be up to the officer’s discretion to figure out if you were drunk or not. Nowadays, however, they can pull out a breathalyzer and test just how much alcohol is in your system. 

If you’re over the limit – regardless of whether or not you feel drunk – you’re getting a DWI (also called a DUI), which is a serious charge even if it’s your first. If it’s your second, third, or fourth DWI charge, you’re in some serious trouble. 

But what kind of punishment should you be expecting, and is there anything you can do about it? Read on to get all the answers to your questions and find out exactly what steps to take next. 

Below You’ll Find the Answers to… 

  • What happens when you get your first DWI in Missouri? 
  • What happens when you get your second DWI in Missouri? 
  • Is a second DWI a felony? 
  • How many DWIs does it take to be a felony? 
  • What happens if you get 3 DWIs in Missouri? 
  • What happens if you get 4 DWIs in Missouri? 
  • Is there a statute of limitations for a DWI? 
  • What can/should I do if I’m getting my 2nd, 3rd, or 4th DWI? 

What Happens When You Get Your First DWI in Missouri? 

When you’re pulled over and found to be over the legal limit, or refuse to volunteer for testing, you’ll be charged with a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). The officer will seize your license and issue a temporary permit. When this permit expires your license is typically suspended for 30 days, followed by 60 days on a “restricted license”, though in some cases you can get an ignition interlock device instead of the suspension.  

There are two parts to your penalty; criminal penalties and administrative penalties. Generally, a first offense DWI is a class B misdemeanor, though if there are additional circumstances this may change. A first offense DWI has a maximum jail sentence of 6 months, though the judge may choose to suspend this sentence, but drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15% or more must spend at least 48 hours in jail, and those with a BAC of 0.2% or more must spend at least 5 days in jail. 

Your probation may include continuous alcohol monitoring, often through an ankle bracelet, or random testing. If you fail to meet the requirements of your probation you are likely to receive additional jail time. 

For your “administrative” penalty, you’ll face a fine of up to $500, and maybe forced to pay for additional fees and court costs that were incurred by your case. 

Regardless of your individual penalties, you will have to complete a substance abuse program for traffic offenders before receiving your full driving rights back. 

What Happens When You Get Your Second DWI in Missouri? 

This depends on when your first DWI was. If your first DWI conviction was more than 5 years ago, you will once again be charged with a first DWI and receive those same charges and penalties, though your license will likely be revoked for 1 year, instead of 30 days. In most cases, a second DWI charge is a class A misdemeanor.  

If it was your second DWI in 5 years, however, your punishment becomes more severe. 

You’ll be sentenced to up to one year in jail, you’ll receive a fine of up to $1,000, and in most cases, you’ll have your license revoked for 1 – 5 years. You’ll likely have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle after this time, which prevents a car from starting unless your BAC is below the legal limit. 

Is a Second DWI a Felony? 

In normal circumstances (you weren’t driving dangerously or in a car accident) you will be charged with a class A misdemeanor, not a felony. 

How Many DWIs Does it Take to Be a Felony? 

In most cases, it takes 3 DWIs to become a felony charge, and it will be a “persistent offender” offense, otherwise known as a class D felony. Felonies are a permanent mark on your record. 

What Happens if You Get 3 DWIs in Missouri?

If you are charged with your third DWI in your lifetime, you’ll face up to 4 years in jail, community service, a fine of up to $5,000, your license will be revoked for 10 years, and you’ll have the ignition interlock device we talked about in the “second DWI” section installed when your license is returned. Your DWI will be class D felony, which means it will stay on your record permanently.  

What Happens if you Get 4 DWIs in Missouri? 

If you are charged with your fourth DWI in your lifetime, your license will be revoked for at least another 10 years. A fourth offense is classed as an “aggravated offender” and a class C felony. A fourth DWI offense may result in a prison sentence of up to 7 years, and a fine of up to $5,000. 

Is There a Statute of Limitations for DWI? 

Yes, the statute of limitation for the filing of a charge is one year (Missouri law section 556.036) for a misdemeanor, and three years for a felony. 

What Can/Should I Do if I Get My 2nd/3rd/4th DWI?

Regardless of whether this is your first or fourth DWI, you need to find an experienced DWI lawyer to fight to get your charges minimized. Often, a DWI charge in Missouri takes months to resolve, and in that time your life has to be put on hold and you won’t know how long your license will be revoked for. 

Your license equals your freedom, and it is often the difference between you getting to work or making your living and being unable to do so. That’s why it’s so important to find a Missouri DWI attorney to work on your case and help you get the very best outcome. If you’re in the St. Louis metro area, we’re here to help. 

We have achieved positive outcomes for numerous DWI/DUI cases and we’re ready to aggressively fight your charges. To find out more and arrange a free consultation click St. Louis DWI Lawyer.

About Chris Combs

A St. Louis native and graduate of Saint Louis University Law School, Chris Combs has been recognized as one of St. Louis' top criminal defense and personal injury attorneys. He is passionate about getting positive results for all his clients and values personal communication above all.

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