What Can I Expect for A First DUI in Missouri? – 6 Questions to Ask
Aug. 3, 2020
You were just arrested for a first time DUI, your mind is racing now about how this happened and all the possible bad consequences that go along with a DUI. You start wondering “what is going to happen to me?”, “can I go to jail for a first time DUI?”, “am I going to lose my license?”, “how much is this going to cost me?”, and “what can I do?” And "how will your DUI case proceed?"
The good news is that, with the exception of DUIs involving accidents, injuries or death, your case most likely will not wind up being as bad as you fear. Your life is not over and this will wind up merely be a hiccup in your life plans.
Knowing what the worst-case scenario is if you are convicted for a first DUI will give you the comfort to make the right decisions with respect to your case each step along the way. In the end, knowing what to expect will help you hire the right attorney and make the best choices for yourself.
Here are six important questions you need answers to when you find yourself with a first DUI in Missouri.
6 Important Questions to Ask with A First DUI
Can I Get Jail Time for A First DUI?
Can I Be Fined for A First DUI?
Will I Lose My License for A First DUI?
How Can I Avoid a Conviction?
What Other Costs Will I Have with A First DUI?
Will My DUI Always Be on My Record?
1. Can I Get Jail Time for A First DUI?
The short answer is yes, you can get a sentence that involves you spending as much as 6 months in jail; however, under most circumstances a good attorney can usually avoid you having to serve any jail time. To be clear, the night you are arrested for a Driving While Intoxicated, you will be taken to jail until you have been processed by the police and you are able to post a bond at which point you will be released.
What happens to you at the end of your case though is a different matter, and the possibilities vary widely depending on which court you find yourself in. In Missouri, there are three levels of courts: 1) Municipal Courts, 2) Circuit Courts, and 3) Appeals Courts. The Circuit Court is divided into two levels: the Associate Circuit, which handles Misdemeanors and initial matters in Felony cases, and the Circuit Courts, which handle Felony cases after the Preliminary Hearing.
“You can spend anywhere from one day to six months in jail for a first offense DUI”
When you receive a DUI it will be written by the arresting officer as either a local Ordinance violation (or Municipal Code violation), or as a violation of state statutes. If your DUI is for violation of a local ordinance, and this is your first DUI, then your case will be in a Municipal Court. If, however, your DUI is for violation of a state statute then your case may end up at the State courthouse in either the Associate Circuit Court or the Circuit Court where you will be charged with a class B misdemeanor.
Depending on which Circuit Court you find yourself in, you may have to serve a few days of “Shock Time” in the county jail as part of any plea deal which involves probation. This means that if you are given 2 days of Shock Time, then you will spend 48 hours in jail as part of your probation. Usually Municipal Courts do not require any Shock Time with a plea deal even for a first time DUI.
If you choose to take your first time DUI case to trial, whether you are in a Municipal Court or Circuit Court, then you could be sentenced to serve as much as 6 months in the Municipal Jail or County Jail, respectively.
2. Can I Be Fined for A First DUI?
Not only can you be fined for a DUI but if you either agree to a plea offer or lose at trial, then you will receive a fine as part of your sentence. The amount that you can be fined for a first DUI in the State of Missouri is limited to $1,000.00 whether you are in a Municipal Court or a State Court.
A skilled DUI lawyer can help you avoid getting the maximum fine should you take a plea agreement or lose at trial. Often times Defendants who are disrespectful to the arresting officer, the prosecutor or the Court will find themselves getting hit with a max fine so be on good behavior throughout the process.
3. Will I Lose My License for A First DUI?
Your ability to drive after your arrest for a DUI is an administrative matter which is unrelated to the outcome of your criminal case in Municipal or State court, though if you are convicted for a DUI and any other traffic violations then your license could be suspended due to too many points. In Missouri, the Department of Revenue is in charge of driving records and issuing driver's licenses. Whether you lose your license for a first DUI depends on what jurisdiction you were in when you were arrested and on whether or not you refused a breathalyzer test.
If you submit to a breath, blood or urine test, and the results show that you were driving with a alcohol concentration in the blood (“BAC”) at or above the legal limit of 0.08%, then your license will be suspended for a period of 90 days. During the first 30 days, a period often referred to as a “Hard Walk”, you will not be allowed to drive for any reason. This is followed by a restricted driving period for the next 60 days.
“The 60-day RDP is only for the limited purpose of driving in connection with employment, education, alcohol treatment, or ignition interlock provider. ”
To be eligible to obtain a 60-day Restricted Driving Privilege (“RDP”) once your Hard Walk period is over, you will need to otherwise be able to drive. Meaning that your license has not been suspended for any other reasons and it has not expired. As long as you are otherwise eligible and you are at least 21 years old, you will only need to obtain SR-22 Insurance in order for the DOR to issue you your (“RDP”).
If on the other hand you refuse a breathalyzer test, or a request to test your urine or blood, then your license will be revoked for a one-year period for a first DUI. If your license is revoked, you may be eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege (“LDP”). An LDP is otherwise known as a “Hardship License” and it limits you to driving in connection with employment, education, alcohol treatment, or ignition interlock provider.
You have 15 days to file a Request for an Administrative Hearing or a Petition for Review in order to prevent your driver's license from being suspended or revoked.
Whether you lose your license for a first DUI or not depends on whether you are successful in challenging the suspension or revocation. When you are arrested you will be given a 15-Day Temporary Driving Permit which will allow you to drive so you can meet with an attorney and file an appeal before the end of the 15-day period. Should you file an appeal before the 15 days is up, then an attorney will be able to prevent your suspension or revocation from going into effect until your appeal is decided and often times afterward.
4. How Can I Avoid a Conviction?
For a first DUI in Missouri, whether you can avoid a conviction may depend on whether you represent yourself or have an attorney fighting for you who knows the ins and outs of DUI law. A skilled attorney should be able to get you a deal that does not involve a conviction. Most likely, if you accept a plea deal then you will have to serve 2 years of probation with a number of conditions.
Probation without a conviction in Missouri is called a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS). It differs from a Suspended Execution of Sentence (SES) in that with an SES you do have a conviction on your record. Ultimately even if you lose at trial, so long as this is your first DUI, nobody was injured, or worse, and you didn't have an excessively high BAC then you should be able to avoid a conviction on your record.
5. What Other Costs Will I Have with A First DUI?
The costs of getting a DUI can start adding up very quickly. There are the obvious costs of your lawyer's fees, fees of any expert witnesses you may need to use, any fines and court costs ordered by the Court, bail and the costs of having your vehicle towed from the scene and impounded. Impound fees can escalate rather quickly so it is important that you do not let your vehicle sit in an impound lot for long.
Other costs that you may have to pay include higher insurance premiums in general but also the higher costs of special insurance that is required for DUIs, called SR-22 Insurance. You may choose to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed on your car to avoid a Hard Walk period of your suspension or it may be ordered by the Court. It is even possible that you could lose your job or have difficulty getting a job under the right circumstances because of a DUI.
Conditions of probation also typically include fees. Such as SATOP (Substance Awareness Traffic Offenders Program), VIP (Victim Impact Panel), a fee for probation supervision, a blood alcohol monitoring device such as a SCRAM bracelet worn on the ankle, urinalysis testing, etc.
The overall costs are impossible to calculate since the analysis is different for each person. That said, you can expect to pay anywhere from a few grand to more than $10,000.00 sometimes. Your ultimate costs may be more or less than this range depending on your circumstances.
6. Will My DUI Always Be on My Record?
The short answer is it depends on you and what you have done since your DUI. Missouri law allows you to have a guilty plea (such as with an SIS or SES plea deal) or a conviction for DUI expunged. You are eligible for an expungement of your DUI so long as you were not charged with a felony DUI, you have not been arrested for any alcohol-related driving offense since, your DUI was not for driving a commercial motor vehicle under the influence, and it has been a minimum of 10 years since your guilty plea or conviction.
Often times the attorney you used for your DUI case can help you get it expunged from your record. Getting a DUI expunged can be very important if you ever find yourself getting arrested after your expungement. Possible punishments for DUIs get worse the more DUIs you have on your record.
Getting arrested for a DUI can be an intimidating process full of many questions, especially when it is your first DUI. Knowing the right questions to ask is just as important as asking questions. Hiring a dependable and skilled DUI attorney like Anthony Bretz will give you someone on your side who will give you answers that you can trust and fight to protect your rights in court. Contact us today to discuss your case.
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