What to Consider Before Pleading Guilty to a DWI in St. Louis County
Feb. 2, 2021
People tend to make better decisions when they have better information. This is especially true when you are dealing with a criminal charge. Whether or not you take the prosecutor's deal or fight the charges in court is one of the biggest decisions you could face. Keeping in mind how your decision today could affect your future options will help you choose what is best for you.
FIRST TIME DWI CONSEQUENCES IN MISSOURI
How bad is it going to be? Charged and arrested with your first DWI all you want to know is: how bad can it get?
In Missouri, a first-time DWI, which is a Class B Misdemeanor offense, can result in a jail sentence of up to 6 months, up to a $1000.00 fine, or both. That's the maximum possible sentence.
In addition to the criminal case, you're also at risk of having your driving privileges suspended for 90 days (if you blew) or revoked for 1 year (if you refused to blow).
If you're facing jail time, then you need to have an experienced lawyer on your side. True, you could save money and go to court by yourself. Once there, the prosecutor will likely offer you a plea deal involving two years of probation with an SIS. After your probation, you'll be able to walk away without a conviction on your record. Sounds great, doesn't it?
Of course, before you are able to finish your probation you will likely have to complete up to 80 hours of Community Service, pay probation fees, pay for the Community Service supervision, attend and complete a Victim Impact Panel (VIP) presentation by MADD, and participate and complete a Substance Awareness Traffic Offenders Program (SATOP). All of which have their owns fees you'll have to pay.
If you never get another DWI in your life, then that's not such a bad outcome. Of course, if you're like everyone else you have no idea what the future holds. Therefore, you should be aware of the impact taking the prosecutor's deal can have on future DWI charges.
CONSEQUENCES ESCALATE FOR REPEAT DWI OFFENDERS
Your potential outcome for a repeat DWI depends on how you handled your first DWI. A second DWI has a potential sentence of up to 1 year in jail and/or a $2000.00 fine. If this is your third DWI in Missouri, then you're facing a Class E Felony charge as a Persistent Offender. That carries with it a potential prison term of up to 4 years, a fine of $10,000.00 or both. Plus, even if you want to take a plea deal to avoid prison time, you won't even be eligible for probation until after you serve 30 days in jail. That's right, you have to serve a month in jail in order to avoid serving a longer sentence in prison.
The choice you make for your first DWI will determine whether you will face enhanced charges in a second or third DWI. Entering a plea of guilty or losing at trial will both result in a finding of guilt. And the prosecutor can use a prior finding of guilt to charge you as a repeat offender.
This is why it's important to keep your future options in mind when deciding what to do. An experienced Missouri DWI attorney like Anthony S. Bretz can explain to you your options and the various repercussions of each. Then he can show you how to win by pointing out the weak points in the prosecutor's case. Remember, rolling over now and taking the quick and easy deal only sets you up for a worse outcome later.
Contact Anthony S. Bretz today for a free consultation. Get someone in your corner who knows the law and can fight for your rights.