Impaired driving can be deadly to the driver, as well as to innocent people who are around them. This is why Missouri has strict laws against driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI). Everyone who is driving should make sure that they are in good condition to do so because there is a chance for criminal charges if a driver is caught driving while impaired, even for the first-time.
There are many points about impaired driving that anyone who is heading out for some fun with friends needs to remember.
Impaired driving is not always drunk driving, or alcohol-related impairment, but can be from substance abuse or even be an unintended side effect.
Drugs are culprits and not only illegal drugs. Even ones that are seemingly harmless, such as antihistamines, can be risky. Anything that can change people’s ability to drive safely can lead to problems if they still drive after taking them.
Some illegal drugs, even marijuana, can lead to cognitive problems as you drive. With any substance, including over-the-counter drugs, prescription medication or illegal drugs, drivers should know what to expect, in terms of changes to their psyche, before driving.
Missouri law has different penalties under Missouri DWI, or driving while intoxicated. These laws prohibit driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Missouri DWI laws include limits on blood alcohol level or blood alcohol content level (BAC), and can result in limited driving privileges, community service, driver’s license suspension, and even jail time.
There are laws concerning underage use and first offense.
There are also chemical tests available to determine if a substance is an illegal narcotic.
Arresting officers are able to provide field sobriety tests and breath tests to determine the level of impairment, as well as breathalyzer tests to determine your blood alcohol content level (BAC level). If you have greater than a .08% then there is no other evidence needed or probable cause to be convicted of a DWI offense. Many DWI cases will have these tests as part of the evidence, and may be used to determine the DWI charges and possible jail sentence. First-time DWI offense is a class B misdemeanor, where a prior offender is upgraded to a class A misdemeanor, and could result in an ignition interlock device, depending on the circumstances. You can refuse to take the breathalyzer test, however due to Missouri’s implied consent laws, your driving privileges will be revoked for one year. This type of restricted driving privilege is referred to as chemical revocation. First-time offenders for Missouri DWI can face up to 6 months in prison, a fine of up to $500 and a 30-day license revocation, even though it’s your first DWI. License revocation is where your privileges are revoked, and can be short term or long term, such as a year revocation or more with a DWI conviction.
Your driving record can be tainted forever from a DWI conviction, and working with a DWI attorney may help to ease the severity of sentencing.
All impaired driving is illegal because of the safety hazard it poses. Law enforcement officers will look for signs that point to a driver not being able to safely drive a vehicle. Some of the factors that give reasonable suspicion include swerving, stopping without reason, failing to obey traffic signals or signs, following other vehicles too closely, driving too fast or too slowly, and straddling the centerline. Officers can stop vehicles for these signs.
A police officer who initiates a traffic stop must gauge the driver’s level of impairment. In the case of alcohol, a breath, urine, or blood test will provide a blood alcohol concentration level that can be compared to the legal limit in Missouri. There isn’t a test like this for other impairing substances. Just because a person has a drug in one’s system doesn’t mean that it will impact one’s capacity to operate a motor vehicle safely.
Some officers will conduct a field sobriety test when they stop a person whom they believe is impaired. This is simply a tool that can help determine if the person’s abilities are affected enough to warrant further action. All of this is done to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries that stem from impaired driving.
If you or a loved one were involved in an accident with an impaired driver then please contact our law firm today. We have experience in Missouri in dealing with injury victims that were part of a DUI or DWI case. Regardless of the BAC, driving record, or if it was a passenger car or commercial motor vehicle, contact our Misosuri law office today for a free case evaluation.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys will fight for you and your loved one. Call today for a free consultation.