Missouri DWI Courts are authorized by Missouri law which states that Circuit Courts may establish a DWI docket to provide an alternative manner for disposing of cases which arise as a result of driving while intoxicated in which a person has pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated or driving with excessive blood alcohol content and:
- The person was operating a motor vehicle with at least 0.15% or more by weight of alcohol in such person's blood; or
- The person has previously pleaded guilty to has been found guilty of one or more intoxication-related traffic offenses as defined by RSMo section 577.023; or
- The person has two or more previous alcohol-related enforcement contacts as defined in RSMo section 302.525.
A DWI Court may not be available in the Circuit Court where you have been charged.
What is a DWI Court?
DWI Courts were created to help those defendants with non-violent criminal charges who also have an alcohol abuse problem. It is a voluntary program which includes regular court appearances before the Circuit's DWI Court Judge. The program shall include judicial supervision and:
- drug testing;
- continuous alcohol monitoring, or verifiable breath alcohol testing performed a minimum of 4 times per day;
- substance abuse traffic offender program (SATOP) participation and completion; and
- treatment of DWI court participants as directed.
The Prosecuting Attorney's office guards the gateway to the DWI Court. This means participation in a DWI Court program is only by referral from the Prosecutor. Upon request from your Missouri DUI Attorney, the Prosecuting Attorney handling your case will begin screening you for eligibility in the program. This is a preliminary step and by no means guarantees one admittance into the DWI Court.
Next, the Circuit's Treatment Court will evaluate you further for eligibility in the program and, if you are eligible, will offer you the choice of entering the program pursuant to a contract. This contract includes, among other items, that you must plead guilty and commit to at least 15 months of treatment. This treatment involves a graduated phase program where you will receive and participate in an individualized educational and relapse prevention program. The ultimate goal of the program is to help break the cycle of criminal behavior and alcohol or substance abuse use, and jail sentences.
DWI Court is often a defendant's last chance to avoid prison.
Upon the successful completion of a DWI Court program, the charges, petition or penalty against a DWI Court participant may be dismissed, reduced or modified. This is not an "easy out", but rather it is an onerous job for any participant to successfully complete. Make no mistake about it, you will have to earn everything in DWI Court. Many of my clients who have gone through the DWI Court believe that the benefits of avoiding prison time, and often even a conviction, as well as providing defendants with a framework and foundation from which to succeed moving forward, are worth the hardships one must endure to graduate from the program.
Remember, there are alternatives to prison for those who have an alcohol abuse disorder. Hiring the wrong attorney often results in defendants not even being aware that they are eligible for DWI Court and can therefore avoid serious jail time. When you hire an experienced Missouri DUI Attorney like Anthony Bretz, hewill analyze your case, driving record and criminal history to help you determine if DWI Court is an option for you. Don't go to prison because you hired the wrong lawyer. Contact us today for a free consultation.