Your Columbia DWI Case: The Basics

It's your last night in CoMo. Better make it a good one. And you do. You went bar hopping in downtown and had an evening of darts, billiards, pints, and the finest greasy pizza Columbia has to offer. You realize it's time to drive back to your sister's dorm at the University of Missouri. Sadly, you never make it. You hit a fire hydrant, drive up onto someone's freshly manicured lawn, and take out three decorative pink flamingos.

You don't remember much other than a man with a badge from the Columbia Police Department wasn't pleased with your endeavors. He gave you a new pair of silver bracelets and checked you into the Boone County Jail for the night.

What's next? Here's some basic information if you've been charged with a Columbia DUI.

Columbia DWIs are a Two-Part Process

Most people don't realize that when they are arrested for a DWI in Columbia, they'll have to deal with two separate issues -- their driver's license suspension and possible criminal penalties. The Missouri Department of Revenue (MDV) and the Columbia criminal courts.

Why? Because the MDV will handle your license suspension pursuant to the implied consent laws and the courts will deal with your criminal case.

How Can I Be Pulled Over for A DWI?

A driver can be pulled over in Columbia if there is evidence that suggests you may be driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs -- speeding, weaving, driving too slowly, getting into a car accident, just to name a few.

Then you'll have to a blood or breath test to determine what your blood alcohol content (BAC) was at the time you were driving. A BAC of .08 in adult drivers and .02 in drivers under 21 years of age is considered a DWI and the driver will be arrested. If a driver refuses a blood or breath test, you'll be exposing yourself to other penalties.

What Are the Typical DWI Charges in Columbia?

In Columbia, there are two ways a driver can be in violation of the DWI laws:

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

  1. (DWI) You are driving and your chemical test (blood, breath) result is 0.08%. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or higher;
  2. (DWI) You are driving and a police officer determined you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (also known as DWI "Per Se")

What are the possible penalties?

DWI: Class B Misdemeanor

  • Fines of up to $500
  • 30-day license suspension with a 60 day restricted driving period to follow if you are an adult driver. If you are under 21, your license will be suspended for 90 days
  • Possible jail time up to 6 months
  • 8 points added to your Columbia driving record

Second DWI: Class A Misdemeanor

  • Fines of up to $1000
  • 1-year license revocation. If it's within 5 years of your previous DWI, you will receive a 5-year license denial
  • 30 Days Community Service
  • A minimum of five days in the county jail, up to one year
  • 12 points added to your Columbia driving record
  • Missouri Driving Test
  • Ignition Interlock Device is required for 1 month

Third Time DWI : Class D Felony

  • Fines of up to $5000
  • 10 year license revocation
  • 60 Days Community Service
  • Up to four years in the county jail with a minimum of 10
  • 12 points added to your Columbia driving record
  • Missouri Driving Test

What Are Some Things that Could Elevate My DWI Sentence?

Missouri increases your punishment if certain facts exist. You'll face enhanced penalties if you are DWI and:

  • You have multiple DWI convictions within ten years of each other;
  • You have a child in the car;
  • You are driving a commercial vehicle;
  • You refuse to submit to a chemical test (breath or blood);
  • Someone else is injured or there is property damage;
  • You are under 21. Missouri has zero tolerance for drinking and/or using drugs and driving;
  • You have a BAC of .15 or higher.

Are there any other penalties?

But, of course there are. You'll have to complete SATOP. It's Missouri's drinking and driving education course. You also might have to meet with a probation officer to make sure you stay on track. Insurance is another biggie. You'll have to get a special type of insurance known as SR-22. It's insurance for those considered "high risk" drivers. Know what that means? A higher insurance costs.

Want your license back? You'll also have to pay a reinstatement fee to the Department of Revenue and send in your SATOP certificate and proof of SR-22 insurance in order to have your driver's license reinstated.

A Final Word About Columbia DWIs

The DWI laws in Missouri are tough. If you've been arrested and charged, consider speaking to a Columbia DWI lawyer about your options.

Remember, it's best to never drink or use drugs and drive. Select a designated driver ahead of time who will stay sober. You can also ask someone else to give you a ride, call a taxi, or use public transportation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.