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Common Misconceptions About DWIs

Guilfoil Law Group July 27, 2023

Being charged with a DWI can be frightening, but it’s important to understand the charges and work with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate DWI laws. If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Missouri, call me, Matt Guilfoil, at Guilfoil Law Group in Kansas City. I make it a priority to heavily research cases and legal literature on the subject of drunk driving defense, and I bring that expertise to every case.

Before we begin working on your defense, is essential to familiarize yourself with common misconceptions, as well as the truth, about DWI laws in Missouri. 

DWI Charges in Missouri

Missouri’s DWI laws punish those who drive a vehicle with an excessive blood alcohol concentration or BAC (.08% for a regular vehicle, 0.4% for a commercial vehicle, and 0.2% for a driver under 21), or while under the influence of any drug. The first offense is punishable by up to six months in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, and license suspension of up to 30 days with a further 60-day restriction. A second offense is punishable by up to 1 year in prison, up to $2,000 in fines, and a license revocation lasting from one to five years. A third offense could see you receiving up to four years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and a license revocation period of up to 10 years. 

Common Myths and Facts About DWI Charges

1. A DWI charge isn’t worth fighting. 

As outlined above, Missouri DWI punishments are quite severe. Even a first offense could see you spending up to one year in prison and will be set down in your driving and criminal records. It is always advisable to engage a criminal defense attorney to fight the charges. 

2. You must submit to a field sobriety test. 

You can refuse a field sobriety test. These tests can work against you in court and are not always accurate—something that your attorney will be able to argue. 

3. You don’t have to submit to urine or blood tests.

While it is true that Missouri’s “implied consent” laws allow you to refuse a urine or blood test upon being arrested for a DWI, a refusal means an automatic one-year license revocation and, if this is not a first offense, a mandatory use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for six months after the revocation period has ended. This charge is separate from a DWI charge and can remain even if the DWI case is dropped. Additionally, a Missouri court may see a refusal as proof of guilt in a DWI case. These tests, like the field sobriety tests, can be inaccurate, and your attorney may be able to argue that the results were compromised due to improper administration or equipment.

4. You have to be actually driving to be arrested for a DWI. 

You do not have to be caught behind the wheel to be charged with a DWI. The police can arrest you if they have cause to believe that you were driving at any point while intoxicated—even if your car is parked when the police stop you. Your attorney will be able to advocate for you if the police have falsely accused you of having driven while intoxicated. 

5. When stopped, I’m obligated to answer all of the officer’s questions.

You always have the right to remain silent until your lawyer is present. You must identify yourself if the officer asks, but it may be wise to wait to answer any questions until you have a criminal defense attorney present. 

6. A DWI will fall off my record after seven years. 

Unfortunately, a DWI will remain on your criminal record in Missouri indefinitely. Not only that, but Missouri, being a member of the Driver License Compact (DLC), is obligated to report the offense to any other member state in which you apply for a new license. A DWI will remain on the National Driver Register (NDR) indefinitely. Therefore, it is wise to engage an attorney to help you get the charges dropped. 

Take Informed Next Steps

For help with your DWI case, call me, Matt Guilfoil, at Guilfoil Law Group, serving Kansas City, Missouri, as well as other areas in Missouri, including Clay County, Platte County, and Jackson County. My expertise in DWI defense, supported by extensive research and experience, has been an invaluable resource in many DWI cases. I will be dedicated to fighting your charges assertively and returning your peace of mind. Call me at Guilfoil Law Group today for a consultation.