DUI & DWI Defense Attorney in Thayer, Missouri
Thousands of people are arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) in Missouri every year. If you are one of them, you might be wondering if you should fight it or suffer the consequences and move on. Just moving on may be far more difficult than you think. A DWI or DUI can affect many areas of your life and is not a legal matter you should handle on your own.
A conviction can result in more than a sentence and a fine. It can strain your personal relationships and cause financial stress if you lose your job, your license, or are charged higher insurance premiums. DUI is a criminal offense resulting in a criminal record if convicted.
If you have been arrested for DUI, you have an extremely limited time to respond. I have been defending clients from Thayer, Missouri, West Plains, and throughout the Ozarks and North Central Arkansas for more than 30 years. The Law Office of Fred O’Neill may be able to help you too.
What Are the Thresholds for
DWI/DUI Charges in Missouri?
The threshold for blood alcohol content (BAC) in Missouri is 0.08% for noncommercial drivers and 0.04% for commercial vehicle operators. It takes a BAC of only 0.02% for a DUI conviction if you are under the age of 21. These thresholds are enough for a “DWI per se” conviction, even if there is no proof of impairment.
In Missouri, you do not need to be driving a vehicle at the time of the stop to be arrested for DUI. You only need to be in physical control, such as having the keys or otherwise being able to control the movement of the vehicle.
Can I Refuse to Take a DUI Test?
Drivers under Missouri law give “implied consent” to submitting to a blood, breath, urine, or saliva test if arrested lawfully for DUI. A refusal of the test results in automatic and immediate suspension of your driver’s license.
On the other hand, you are under no legal obligation to submit to a field sobriety test. A field sobriety test involves such activities as saying the alphabet backward, walking a straight line, or tracking the officer’s fingers with your eyes. If the officer asks you to submit to one, simply tell them that your attorney has advised against it. Field sobriety tests are unscientific and unreliable as evidence of impaired driving. If you take the field sobriety test and do not perform well, the officer will note it in the report, and that can work against you.
What Are the Possible Penalties for DUI?
Penalties for DUI are based largely upon age, blood alcohol content, and the number of previous convictions. In general, a first offense results in a lighter DUI penalty than a second offense, and a lower blood alcohol content results in a lighter penalty than a higher percentage.
There are five penalty tiers in Missouri, depending on the number of prior DUI convictions you have. A first conviction can result in up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $500, and a 30-day license suspension. You would then have limited driving privileges, such as driving to and from work, for up to a year.
A fifth conviction could result in a jail sentence of five to 15 years, a fine of up to $5,000, plus up to ten years license suspension. There are also additional DUI penalties for drivers who cause injury to others while drunk driving, for commercial vehicle operators, and for drivers who refuse to take a blood-alcohol test.
In addition, if you obtain a restricted driver’s license, you will be required to carry special insurance which costs significantly more than normal auto liability insurance.
What is an Interlock Ignition Program?
Even a first-time offender can be ordered to install an Interlock Ignition Device (IID) on their vehicle for up to two years. An IID is a small handheld breathalyzer a driver must blow into before attempting to start their vehicle. If the device registers a BAC higher than allowed, the vehicle will not start. The results of all attempts will be monitored by authorities. Furthermore, you will be required to have the device calibrated periodically to ensure it is working properly. You pay all costs associated with the IID.
How a Skilled DUI Defense Attorney Can Help
Plea agreements are possible for the criminal charge in DUI cases in Missouri. However, the administrative action, taken by the Department of Revenue, has less potential for avoidance. An experienced DUI attorney is your best chance at reducing the impact of a DUI arrest or chemical test refusal.
Your attorney may be able to challenge the stop that led to your arrest or challenge the field sobriety test. If you have a physical impairment or disability, that can be used to defend your performance and perceived impairment. Your attorney may also be able to challenge the breath test based on other things you consumed or based on contamination of results.
DUI & DWI Defense
Attorney in Thayer, Missouri
Whether this is your first DUI offense or your fifth, you need experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate legal representation. Fred O’Neill has been providing this type of representation for more than three decades as a prosecutor and defense attorney. He works diligently to obtain the best results possible for clients from Thayer, Missouri, West Plains, The Ozarks, and North Central Arkansas. If you have been arrested for DUI, you have only days to respond so don’t wait. Call Fred O’Neill’s office today for reliable legal representation.