Special Circumstances if You’re an Under-21 DUI / DWI: The Missouri Abuse and Lose Provisions

Missouri DUI / DWI law has it in for under-21 drivers arrested for drunk driving. So much so that it is critical to have a Missouri DUI / DWI lawyer contest your DUI / DWI case so that your license may be saved.

Here Are the Main Points of Contention on “Abuse and Lose” and "Zero Tolerance" in A Missouri Under 21 Drunk Driving Case:

The administrative process begins in a Missouri DUI / DWI abuse and lose case after an arrest for a driver under 21 if he or she has a BAC of 0.02 or greater.

With a BAC this low, this is basically a zero-tolerance policy.

On the good side . . . unlike regular Missouri DUI / DWI cases with adults over 21...a zero-tolerance case requires reasonable suspicion for a valid traffic stop. RSMo. 302.505.

On the bad side, however, are the penalties for anyone affected by the zero-tolerance provisions of Missouri DUI / DWI traffic laws.

You see, RSMo. Section 577.500 requires a court to enter an order of suspension/revocation for any minor, who is determined to have committed one of the following types of offenses (the language is mandatory):

  • An alcohol-related traffic offense;

  • An offense, involving possession or use of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle;

  • An offense in violation of RSMo. Chapter 195 involving the possession or use of a controlled substance;

  • An offense under RSMo. Section 311.328, involving the alteration, modification or misrepresentation of a driver's license;

  • A second offense involving the possession or use of alcohol, if both offenses were committed by the person when under 18 years of age.

What Exactly Does This Mean for You if You Are Arrested for An Abuse and Lose Missouri DUI / DWI?

For a first-time, minor offender you're looking at a ninety (90) day license suspension. For a second or subsequent offense or for someone over 21 on a first or subsequent drug-related offense, the penalty is a one-year revocation.

There are some other aspects of abuse and lose cases in Missouri you need to be aware of, particularly involving the notice of suspension/revocation in abuse and lose cases.

First unlike an over-21, normal DUI / DWI case, where the notice paper must be served on the driver while in custody, stating the offense--the officer-issued notice in an abuse and lose case need not specifically state what the traffic offense was that formed the basis of the initial stop. Whitelaw v. Director of Revenue, E.D. 79562.

Moreover, petitions for review under RSMo. 302.311 do not apply to abuse and lose cases entered under RSMo. Section 577.500 because the trial court actually imposes this type of suspension/revocation NOT the Director of Revenue. Cross v. Director of Revenue, 861 S.W.2d 214 ( Mo. App. 1993).

So unless you don't mind not driving for 90 days for a first-time offense conviction, you're in essence being forced to contest the charge against you.


The driver license penalty for a first-time minor DUI / DWI offender is a 90-day license suspension: for a second or subsequent offense, the penalty is a 1-year driver license revocation.

The revocation of a driver's license under the "abuse and lose" law is a civil penalty and does not constitute double jeopardy. State v. Rehm, 821 S.W.2d 127 (Mo. App. 1992). The possession of an alcoholic beverage in the trunk of a minor's vehicle in a "normal" traffic stop is sufficient for the minor to have his or her driver's license revoked under RSMo. Section 577.500. State v. Hanners, 827 S.W.2d 273 (Mo. App. 1992).