As a resident of Missouri, getting a DWI (driving while intoxicated) or DUI (driving under the influence) conviction can negatively affect your life in many ways. At worst, you can serve jail time and have your license permanently taken away. In lesser cases, you may just have to pay a fee and/or face some length of probation time.
The severity of your punishment will depend on many factors including the nature of the conviction, your conviction history, and more. When it comes to knowing how severe your particular consequences may be, it can be difficult to predict how a case may go. First, it helps to know all of the facts. Here are 4 things you may not know about getting a DWI in the state of Missouri:
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You Don’t Have to Submit to Breathalyzer Tests
Contrary to what the police officer may lead you to believe, you have a right to say “no” to any type of tests you’re asked to take when you get pulled over. This includes any breathalyzer tests, whether at the scene or at the station. Refusing to take these tests may impact your case, but depending on the nature of your case and any previous convictions, it may be better to refuse than take the test. Again, this all depends on the facts of your specific case and every situation is different.
To know what’s best for you, you’ll need to contact an attorney. When you get pulled over and make a request to contact a lawyer, the police officer—by law—has to give you 20 minutes to speak to an attorney before subjecting you to any tests. Take advantage of that time, make a request to call an attorney, and do so. Don’t make the wrong decision.
You Can Appeal a License Suspension in Missouri or Petition the Court to Review a Refusal Suspension
If you end up getting served with a license suspension from the arresting officer, you can appeal it within 15 days of receiving the notice of suspension. Doing so will prompt the county where your conviction occurred to hold an administrative review of your case. This appeal can even be filed if you end up having to serve jail time. In the case of this scenario, you will definitely want to hire an attorney, however. With a small window of 15 days, acting quickly is imperative.
In the instance that you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, then the officer may serve you with notice that your license is going to be suspended for a year. In those cases, you may have the ability to petition the court in the county of your arrest to review this suspension and whether you actually refused to take the breathalyzer test. It’s imperative that you contact an attorney immediately in order to file this petition, as there is a very brief window of time for you to file these as well.
Your first DWI Conviction Will Likely Be a Misdemeanor
In the state of Missouri, most first-time DWI convictions end up being misdemeanors unless your actions cause an accident which injures another person. Most DWI convictions don’t turn into felonies until you have more than more than one conviction on your record. Even if you’re only convicted of a misdemeanor, however, it’s important to remember that your charges may still involve a license suspension, jail time, and hefty fines in addition to the misdemeanor remaining permanently on your record. Also, in Missouri, previous DWI convictions can be used to show that you are a prior offender or a chronic offender if you are ever arrested for DWI again, which could lead to enhanced legal charges.
A DWI Case Can Drastically Change with the Right Legal Help
When you’re first convicted of a DWI, the future may seem bleak—especially if you’re immediately arrested. No matter the consequences, remember that your future can change quickly with the right help on your side. With the assistance of a DWI lawyer from Thomas Law Offices, jail time and a lengthy suspension can turn into consequences much less severe. With a knowledgeable attorney, it’s even possible to erase a DWI from your record completely.
Even if your particular situation looks grim, don’t hesitate to contact those who can help. Our lawyers will do whatever they can to fight for your rights and ensure you’re able to provide for your loved ones. Don’t let a DWI ruin your future. Give our office a call to learn more.