Q:

Am I going to go to jail?

A:

Often times on a first or second offense DWI, no jail time will have to be served so long as your attorney is able to work out a plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney based on the facts of your case.  For cases where you have more than 1 prior alcohol related offense, jail time is almost always part of any plea bargain, as a 3rd offense or greater is a Felony in Missouri.

Q:

Am I going to lose my license?

A:

There are several factors to consider in order to determine if your license will be suspended or revoked after being arrested for a DWI in Missouri.  First, if you blew over the limit, the default is that your license will be suspended for 90 days. Second, if you refused to blow, the default is that your license will be revoked for 1 year.  Third, if you get points for a DWI, the minimum amount for a first time offense is 8 points, which also would result in a 90 day point suspension of your license. There are ways to prevent a license suspension or revocation for each of those scenarios above, but the specific means and methods used to prevent the suspensions are case-specific and cannot be answered generally.  Fortunately we offer free consultations for anyone facing a Missouri DWI. During that consultation one of the things we will discuss is what may happen to your license and what I’m able to do in an effort to prevent anything from happening to the license.

Q:

How much is this going to cost me?

A:

The true and total cost of a DWI is extremely difficult to quantify because there are many factors involved.  Some factors you should definitely consider are the cost of your attorney, court costs and fines, costs for court-ordered programs like SATOP and VIP, and costs associated with insurance rates going up if your license is suspended or revoked due to the DWI and the arrest.  Other things that factor into what the true cost would be costs associated with needing to pay for transportation if your license gets suspended or revoked, and costs associated with losing your current job or missing out on future employment opportunities in the event the DWI stays on your record.

Q:

How much does your office charge to represent me for my DWI?

A:

The fees my office charges are primarily based on the severity of the offense that is charged (first time, versus second, third, or beyond), as well as whether or not there is a case to be pursued to prevent a license suspension or revocation.  While we have a basic guideline as to what fees we charge for a specific offense, there is not an exact amount that I can quote across the board. During your free consultation we will discuss the exact fee that would be charged to take on your matter. 

Q:

Can I get this “fixed” like other tickets I’ve gotten fixed in the past?

A:

Unlike a simple speeding ticket, a DWI is not taken lightly by Missouri Courts.  That means it is much more difficult to get one “fixed” as you would most other traffic tickets.  It is possible to get a DWI amended to a non-alcohol related offense in certain situations. As a DWI lawyer, my goal is to find ways to convince prosecutors to do exactly that – amend the DWI to something that is not alcohol related.  The way that I am able to do that is case specific, and is never guaranteed to happen. I do however have extensive experience in defending DWI cases, and have had great success in obtaining the best resolutions possible for my clients, including several instances of a DWI being amended to a lesser charge such as careless driving, illegal parking, or even flat out dismissed.  While past results don’t guarantee future results, my knowledge and experience in defending DWI’s will always be an advantage that I bring to the negotiating table when it comes time to try to work a favorable plea bargain and avoid the risks associated with going to trial on a DWI.

Q:

Am I going to lose my job because of this DWI?

A:

Depending on the type of work you do it is a distinct possibility that a collateral consequence of the DWI could be the loss of your current employment.  Situations where this is common include jobs where certain types of security clearances are required, jobs where you must hold a specific license to work, anyone who must have a CDL for their job.  A DWI is also a huge concern for doctors, nurses, and anyone in the medical field. If your current job may be at stake depending on the outcome of a pending DWI charge it is imperative that your attorney be made aware.  Especially in DWI cases, your choice of representation should be very selective when your job is at stake.

Q:

What do I say on job applications if I got a DWI?

A:

If you have a prior DWI and your job application asks about convictions, pleas of guilt, or DWI arrests specifically you should consult with an attorney to make sure you are providing the correct answers to the questions.  The reason for this is that in Missouri often times a first time DWI offense does not result in a conviction for the crime. That is because many first time offenders in Missouri get a specific type of probation that doesn’t result in a conviction.  Employment applications don’t all ask the same question when it comes to prior criminal history. Some applications ask about convictions only, while others ask whether or not you have been convicted of, or plead guilty to any crimes.  Depending on the specific question being asked, and the specific outcome of your case the honest answer to the question could be yes or no.  Our office is happy to review employment applications with past clients so that they know they are providing honest answers while protecting their privacy when the circumstances allow.

Q:

What happens if I blew over the limit?

A:

There are 2 main things that happen when you blow over the limit in a DWI in Missouri.  First, the blow itself will trigger a Missouri license suspension. Even for out-of-state drivers, the blow over in Missouri could result in a home-stat license suspension.  Secondly, the prosecutor will potentially be able to present evidence of your blood alcohol concentration in the criminal prosecution of your case. Prosecutors love to have a BAC above the limit to rely on during trial.  The admissibility of the breath test into evidence is subject to specific laws, however, and in many circumstances, if defended properly a breath test can be kept from being admissible for the purpose of suspending the license AND proving guilt to the DWI.  That is why it is critical to choose an experienced DWI lawyer to defend your license and criminal case if you have been arrested for DWI and blew over the legal limit.

Q:

How many drinks does it take to get me over the legal limit?

A:

I remember hearing many times that it only takes 2 drinks to get to the limit in Missouri.  While that is technically possible, it is very rare that 2 standard sized drinks would elevate a person’s blood alcohol concentration to .08% or above.  There are factors that go into the amount of alcohol that gets into someone’s blood per drink, but generally speaking an average adult male’s blood will go up .02% for each drink they consume, meaning it would take about 4 drinks to get to the legal limit of .08%.  The science behind this is referred to as “absorption and elimination” while the average adult male absorbs approximately .02% per drink, that is not a number that you can rely on when determining whether or not you are safe to drive. It is always best to avoid driving after consuming any amount of alcohol, not only because of the potential for danger even below the legal limit, but because you can’t rely on knowing what your BAC will be if you were to get pulled over and asked to blow.  On top of that the BAC machines are FAR from perfect, so its best not to risk a DWI if you have been drinking at all prior to driving.

Q:

What happens if I refused to blow?

A:

If you are arrested for DWI and refuse to blow, the officer is usually going to take your license from you at the station and issue a form that says you have 15 days to drive, at the end of the 15 days your license becomes suspended.  The default in Missouri under the Missouri Implied Consent law is that a refusal to blow causes a 1-year license revocation. There is recourse that can be taken after the refusal to stop the refusal, however there is a very strict time limit of when that action must be taken.  You have 30 days from the time of the refusal to file what is called a “Petition for Review” in the court of the county where your “refusal” took place. Depending on the county where your refusal is alleged to have happened, and your prior history of alcohol, you may be eligible to keep your license.  Even if you are not eligible for a bargain to keep your license, the petition for review provides an opportunity to challenge both the legality of the stop and DWI arrest, but also the legality of the “refusal” such that it is possible to exclude the refusal from being used for the purpose of revocation of a license.

Q:

Is it better to refuse or is it better to blow?

A:

The answer is that it generally depends on a variety of things surrounding your arrest, your arrest & DWI history, and the jurisdiction (police agency) where you have been arrested.  When the officer asks you to blow, the best possible answer you can give is “I want to speak to my lawyer to assist me in making this decision.” The reason for this is twofold. First, by requesting to speak to an attorney you invoke Missouri’s “20-Minute Rule”, which means the officer must give you 20 minutes in which to make attempts to contact an attorney.  There are rules that the officer must follow when someone invokes the 20-minute rule, some of which could make any refusal or breath test inadmissible if not followed. Secondly, if you are able to contact an attorney, you must be given an opportunity to have a conversation (outside of the hearing of any law enforcement) so that you can make an informed decision on whether it will be better for you to blow or to refuse.

Q:

What is SATOP?

A:

SATOP is a class that people take when they have gotten a DWI in Missouri.  SATOP is an acronym for Substance Abuse Traffic Offenders Program.  SATOP is a 2-part class that you may be required to complete either to get your license reinstated after an alcohol suspension or revocation, and it may also be a special condition of DWI probation.  The first part of the program is called an evaluation where you meet with a counselor who is certified by the state to make a determination of what level of the SATOP program in which to place you. The levels go from 1-4 and get more intensive and expensive as you go up the ranks.  Essentially, the higher your risk of repeating DWI in the future, the higher the level of SATOP you should be assigned in order to teach you as much as possible so that you don’t go out and offend again in the future.

Q:

Will I have to do SATOP and if so when?

A:

SATOP is always required to reinstate your license if it was suspended for blowing over the limit, or revoked for refusing to blow.  It is sometimes required as part of a plea bargain agreement, and can also be court-ordered by a judge. If you lose your license for blowing over or for refusing, SATOP must be completed prior to reinstating your license.  So long as it is completed AFTER the arrest, it will count for the purpose of any requisite for license issues.  

If you are ordered to do SATOP as part of a plea bargain agreement, or are ordered to do it by a judge, you will have a set amount of time (often times 60-90 days) to complete the program.

Q:

Will I lose my Insurance because of a DWI?

A:

If you get a DWI and lose your license, or take points for the DWI, your insurance company will find out about the offense when they run your driving record.  Insurance companies can run driving records on their insureds anytime they choose, but typically only do it when it comes time to renew a policy. When a driver gets a DWI they typically get reclassified as high risk drivers by insurance, so premiums go up, and sometimes drivers can get dropped from a policy.  If that happens you will most likely be able to find coverage from another insurance carrier, but you’ll want to get started on that right away as the process can be time consuming and costly.

Q:

Will I have to get special Insurance because of a DWI? If so, for how long?

A:

If your license is suspended for blowing over, or is revoked for refusing to blow you will be required to get (and keep) SR-22 insurance on file with the Department of Revenue for 2 years from the date of your suspension or revocation.

Q:

How much is my insurance rate going to go up because of a DWI?

A:

There isn’t a specific number that I can give, however, I have been told the increase in premiums after a DWI can be significant.  Sometimes premiums go up double or triple what they were before the DWI. The best way to prevent this from happening is to hire an experienced lawyer who can take steps and help you to keep the DWI from causing problems with your insurance.

Q:

What is DWI probation?

A:

Sometimes a plea bargain is worked out such that the person who got the DWI is put on probation as part of the deal.  Probation, which should not be confused with Parole, means that there is a period of time after the plea has been entered in which you must do (or not do) certain things in order to receive the benefit of the bargain.  If probation is something that you are facing after a DWI, it is important to go over all of the aspects of the probation with your attorney prior to entering the plea, which is when your probation officially starts.  Questions to ask include: Will this probation result in a conviction? Are there any programs I have to complete as part of this probation, if so how long will I have to complete those programs? How much will the probation cost, if supervised?  Is there any requirement that I stay in Missouri while I’m on probation? Can I travel while on probation?, etc.

Q:

What is the thing you have to blow into to start your car? Will I need one because of my DWI?

A:

The device that goes into a car that requires the driver to blow in order to start the car is called Ignition Interlock.  There are several companies who make variations of these devices, some tend to work and function better than others. On a first offense, you most likely will NOT be required to have an ignition interlock device, but it may be something you choose to have installed either for a lesser suspension on your license, or as part of a plea deal in a criminal case.  For second offenders and beyond, interlock is required for 6 months after reinstating your license.