DWI law in Missouri is constantly changing, making it difficult for driver’s to understand their rights and the consequences related to pleading guilty to alcohol related offenses. In many cases those changes can mean the difference between probation and spending years in prison. The most significant example is the law relating to “enhancement”.
In Missouri, any prior “intoxication related offense” can trigger enhancement. This can mean a prior DWI or excessive BAC, but can also include certain drug and assault charges related to driving. There is also no time limit – the State can use a 25 year old DWI to enhance charges. It doesn’t matter if it was a State charge or Municipal charge, an SIS, SES or fine – any plea of guilt can be used to increase your potential punishment and can mean the difference between your freedom and incarceration.
Missouri law has four categories of enhancement: (1) a “prior offender”, (2) a “persistent offender”, (3) an “aggravated offender”, and (4) a “chronic offender”.
A “prior offender” is anyone who has pleaded guilty or has been found guilty of one prior intoxication related traffic offense. If the state can prove you are a prior offender, your DWI that began as a B Misdemeanor with a range of punishment of up to six (6) months in the county jail, is now an A Misdemeanor with a range of punishment of up to one (1) year in the county jail and/or a $1,000 fine. In addition, you are not eligible for probation unless you serve at least 10 days in the county jail or perform at least 240 hours of community service.
A “persistent offender” is anyone who has pleaded guilty or has been found guilty of at least two (2) prior intoxication related traffic offenses. Once again it does not matter when the prior DWI’s occurred. If you are persistent offender, you are now facing a D Felony with a range of punishment of up to four (4) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Before you are eligible for probation or parole, you must serve at least 30 days imprisonment or complete 480 hours of community service. Because this is now a felony, instead of a maximum of two (2) years of probation which you would face with a misdemeanor, you are facing up to five (5) years of supervision by the State.
An “aggravated offender” is someone who has pleaded guilty or has been found guilty of at least three (3) intoxication related traffic offenses or someone who has pleaded guilty or has been found guilty to certain other alcohol related offenses. An aggravated offender is facing a C Felony and up to seven (7) years in the Missouri Department of Corrections. Sixty (60) days of imprisonment is required. There is no community service alternative.
A “chronic offender” is someone who has pleaded guilty to four (4) or more intoxication related traffic offenses or various combinations of intoxication related traffic offenses and certain other alcohol related offenses. If found guilty as a chronic offender, you will serve a minimum of two (2) years flat in the Missouri Department of Corrections. You are not eligible for probation or parole until you have served the entire two (2) year period. There are no exceptions.
In addition to the jail time requirements, the Courts are requiring continuous alcohol monitoring (SCRAM or TAD), not only as a condition of probation, but also of bond, creating an extremely costly burden before you are even found guilty of an offense. It is imperative that you seek competent legal advice from the beginning. Our experienced attorneys can guide you through the confusion and work to provide you the best outcome possible. If you or a loved one is facing complications because of a prior DWI or facing your first DWI and need help navigating the potential consequences, please call us at 636-797-2601 to get started with one of our dedicated and experienced DWI attorneys.