Interviewer: Are there any other enhancements that would cause your DUI case to be aggravated or enhanced, like if you had kids in the car or if you have an accident or there’s an injury?
Kevin Roach: Yeah. If you’re driving under the influence and you have an accident and someone is injured, you can be charged with vehicular assault or manslaughter. The DWI, if it’s your first offense, would still be a misdemeanor, but you would also be charged with a felony for assault.
I had a client a couple of years ago who had his son and his son’s friend over for a sleepover and they wanted to get ice cream. My client had been drinking, and he ran them up to the gas station, which was less than a block from his house, but he was, unfortunately, pulled over and was charged with a DWI as well as endangering the welfare of a child, because the kids were in the car with him.
Interviewer: What about if it’s a second or third or more offense? What happens to you then?
Kevin Roach: A first offense in Missouri is a Class B misdemeanor. Typically, a second offense is also charged as a Class B misdemeanor. However, it can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor on a second offense. Essentially, whether it’s a Class A and a Class B, it doesn’t make a lot of difference. The punishment for a Class A is up to a year in jail or $2,000 fine. But the third offense in Missouri is a huge difference. A third offense in Missouri has to be charged as a felony. It’s a Class E felony automatically on your third offense.
Interviewer: What does that mean versus a misdemeanor-level DUI?
Kevin Roach: A felony is much more serious. In Missouri you can’t get a suspended sentence on a DWI. For instance, if you had a felony for stealing or for something else like for drugs, and it’s your first felony, in Missouri they would typically offer you an SIS, or a suspended sentence, which does not result in a conviction on your record.
However, with a DWI in Missouri, they cannot offer an SIS; it’s not allowed. What I see a lot of times is people that don’t have attorneys who are charged with a felony DWI end up with felony convictions on their record and they can’t vote, they can’t possess firearms. They just lose a lot of rights. It affects your ability to find a job. You’re a convicted felon. Yeah, the ramifications are huge – not to mention you can be sentenced to jail time as well.
Interviewer: If you get a conviction, is there a look-back period where if it’s been ten years, for instance, another DUI would be considered your first one, or does it forever hurt your record?
Kevin Roach: Most people don’t take a conviction on the first one. Most people retain an attorney for a first offense. It happens to a lot of people, they’re not criminals, and they’ve never been in trouble before in their lives, so they obviously want to take care of it and they want to do the responsible thing, so they get an attorney and they get it amended. For instance, they may get an SIS and they complete their probationary period, which is typically 24 months, and then it’s off their record.
Maybe five, six, ten years go by and they might be out at a work party and they pick up another one. If that first one was not a conviction, then the ramifications for the second one are going to be a lot less, because on the second offense, typically they don’t offer the SIS. A lot of times they will amend it down to a BAC.
Typically, if your first one was a plea of guilty, they’re going to be a lot harder on you on your second one, so you’re going to have two strikes against you. It has severe consequences against your driver’s license. In Missouri if you have two convictions – two pleas of guilty – then you automatically lose your license for a year, and there’s no hardship or a driving permit during that period. It’s not a good situation.
Kevin J. roach is a St. Louis DWI defense attorney who has defended thousands of DWI and DUI cases in the St. Louis Metro area. Call us today at (636) 519-0085 or (866) 519-0085 for your Free Consultation!