10 Things You Need To Know if Arrested for DWI in St. Louis, Missouri
1. DWI is not just a ticket, it is a criminal offense When you are arrested for DWI, you face both administrative penalties and criminal penalties-it is not simply a traffic offense. You will be prosecuted by the state, and for a first conviction you can be fined $500 and sent to jail for up to 6 months, as well as possibly being placed on probation. Having a DWI on your criminal record will mean that you can receive tougher penalties if you are subsequently arrested for drinking and driving.
2. You can lose your license. If you blow over the legal limit in St. Louis, and it is your first offense you will lose your driver's license for 30 days, followed by a 60-day period of driving with a restricted license.
3. You may have to pay more for insurance. Before you can regain your driving privileges, you will have to supply proof of SR-22 liability insurance, which is required for high-risk drivers. It can cost significantly more than you are accustomed to paying.
4. You can fight DWI charges even if you were above .08% BAC. You should not give up hope of avoiding a conviction, even if there is evidence that your blood alcohol content was above .08%. This may be your first-and hopefully it will be your last-involvement in the criminal justice system, and you may be unaware of your options for fighting the charges.
5. The police officer must prove probable cause. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution secures your right against unreasonable search and seizure, and this can often be used to have the evidence in a DWI case dismissed. If the officer who arrested you cannot prove that there was probable cause to pull you over, such as erratic or reckless driving or swerving, the judge may rule that the evidence gained during the investigation was gathered in violation of your rights.
6. Field sobriety tests are notoriously faulty. The roadside tests which police officers use to determine whether a suspect is under the influence of alcohol, such as the walk-and-turn, one-leg stand and the horizontal gaze nystagmus, are entirely subject to the opinion of the officer. Conditions such as poor weather, heavy passing traffic, gravel, inappropriate footwear and even the suspect's physiology can invalidate the test results.
7. Breath and blood tests can be challenged. Breathalyzer tests and blood tests which are used to ascertain evidence for DWI prosecution are theoretically more reliable than field sobriety tests, but they are still liable to error. It is often possible to subpoena the maintenance and calibration records to demonstrate that the test results are faulty, as well as challenging the skill of the test operator and the method used to store, transport and analyze the samples.
8. You can lose your license for refusing to take chemical tests. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and when you received your driver's license you consented to submit to chemical tests for DWI whenever requested to do so by a police officer. Many people refuse to take a breath test or a blood test out of concern that they will fail, but this can lead to an automatic DWI license suspension.
9. You must request an Administrative Hearing within 15 days. You have 15 days after your arrest to request a DWI Administrative Hearing from the Missouri Department of Revenue, otherwise you can lose your driver's license. This is separate from any criminal prosecution you may face, but you can have an attorney represent you during the hearing.
10. Hiring an attorney is your best chance of avoiding a conviction. Being arrested and charged with DWI can be a frightening and stressful experience, and you stand to lose greatly if you are convicted. You can substantially level the playing field and give yourself a far better chance of avoiding negative consequences by retaining a St. Louis criminal defense attorney who will stand by you as the case progresses and fight to defend your rights.