St. Louis County DWI FAQs

Can a DWI Court grant me a limited driving privilege when I participate in or graduate from its program, if I have more than one alcohol-related traffic offense on my record?

Yes. Section 302.309.3(9) now allows a DWI Court to grant a limited driving privilege to a participant or graduate of the program who may otherwise be ineligible for limited driving privilege. If you are granted a limited driving privilege by the DWI Court, the Department of Revenue will update your driving record to show the limited driving privilege.

I’ve heard that if my case is in a DWI Court, and I plead guilty to or am found guilty of a first-time driving while intoxicated offense, and my blood alcohol concentration is .15%, I would not be eligible for a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) for the alcohol-related traffic offense. Is this true?

No. In a county in which there is a DWI court, you may receive an SIS so long as:

  • You are placed on probation for a minimum of two years; and
  • You successfully complete the DWI court or court-ordered treatment program.

What will the DWI Court program consist of?

The program will combine judicial supervision, drug testing, continuous alcohol monitoring, substance abuse traffic offender program compliance, and treatment.

Is there a fee to participate in a DWI court program?

A DWI Court may assess you with any and all necessary costs of your participation.

When is the earliest I can be issued a limited driving privilege if I am a participant in or graduate of the program?

You must complete a minimum of 45 days of participation in the program and be approved by the DWI Court.

Am I required to have an SR-22 insurance filing if a DWI Court has issued me a limited driving privilege?

Yes. You are required to maintain an SR-22 insurance filing for the duration of your limited driving privilege.

Am I required to have an ignition interlock device in my car if a DWI Court has issued me a limited driving privilege?

Yes, if you have more than one alcohol-related enforcement contact.

If I have a first alcohol-related driving offense on my record that is over 10 years old and now I have a new one pending in court, can I have the old alcohol-related offense expunged from my record?

No. The new law prohibits the Department of Revenue from expunging the alcohol-related driving offense from your record because you have another alcohol-related offense pending.

It’s my first DWI arrest. Do I have to hire a lawyer?

There is no law that says you have to hire a lawyer; but it is a good idea. You are at a major disadvantage if you represent yourself in a DWI criminal case. Missouri DWI law is complex and the penalties can be harsh, even for first time offenders.

What is “Blood Alcohol Level” or BAC? 

Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) is a term used to describe the level of alcohol in the bloodstream of a person arrested for Missouri drunk driving. It is used in court as evidence of that offense. The most common method of determining BAC is through a breath test (Breathalyzer), although blood and urine testing is also done. If the level is found to be at least 0.08% the test results can establish a presumption of impairment.

May I refuse a Breathalyzer test? 

In Missouri a refusal to take a Breathalyzer test can result in a license suspension for 1 year. In addition, if you took your case to trial but had refused the Breathalyzer test, the jury may use this against you.

Is “Drunk Driving” the same as “Driving Under the Influence” or DWI?

No. Many people confuse these two terms. In Missouri, you do not have to be drunk or driving drunk in order to get arrested and convicted of a DWI. Being drunk refers to a person who is so inebriated that he or she is incapable of caring for his or her own safety. In a DWI case, the prosecutor must prove that you were impaired (by drugs or alcohol) to an appreciable degree while operating a motor vehicle.

Will my Missouri driver’s license be taken away?

That depends on the circumstances that surround your Missouri DWI case. When you were arrested, you were given a sheet of paper that serves as both a Notice of Suspension and a 15-day Temporary License. If the DMV was not contacted (by either you or your attorney) within 15 days after you were arrested to request a hearing, your Missouri driver’s license suspension will begin after time to request a hearing has expired. When a hearing has been requested, the 15-day Temporary License is extended for an amount of time that coincides with your hearing date.  A sharp DWI defense lawyer is your best defense for ensuring your permission to drive.

Was the police officer supposed to have read me my Miranda rights when he arrested me for drunk driving?

Yes. Police officers are supposed to read you your Miranda rights during the arrest. Many officers fail to do so. If you were not read your Miranda rights, the prosecutor cannot use anything you said after the arrest as evidence against you.

What else should the officer have told me? 

The officer also should have advised you of Missouri’s “implied consent” law, which deals with taking a test that measures the amount of drugs and/or alcohol in your system. He or she should have told you about your legal obligation to take this test, given you a choice of a blood, urine, or breath test, and warned you of the results if you refuse to be tested.