Written by: Christopher Yotz
If you are charged with a DWI in Missouri for the first time you may not realize how complicated the issues may be with your license. There are two ways you can potentially lose your license. It may be administratively suspended or it could be suspended for points or for both.
Your license may be at risk for a reason separate from the criminal charge for Driving While Intoxicated even if the criminal charge is never filed or it is dismissed. After you are arrested the officer will request that you submit to a chemical test of either your breath or blood. You can either agree or refuse. (I will discuss what I think about testing or refusing in another post). Either situation could lead to an administrative suspension. The length of the administrative suspension will vary depending upon whether you choose to submit to the test.
If you agree to the test and test over .08% BAC then the officer will send a form to the Missouri Department of Revenue and ask that your license be suspended for testing over the limit. Such a suspension for a first offense will be for 90 days. Prior to the new law taking effect you would be eligible for a limited driving privilege after 30 days and after filing SR-22 insurance. Under the new law such a wait will be shorter if you agree to install an Ignition Interlock Device on your vehicle.
If you refuse to take the test (simply not taking the test for whatever reason can be claimed a refusal) the officer will still send a form to the State of Missouri asking that your license be suspended. This suspension will be for 1 year. You may be eligible for a limited driving privilege after 90 days. Under the new laws this could be shorter.
You can contest either of the above suspensions. If you submitted to the test then you have 15 days to file for an administrative hearing to contest this suspension. If the officer claims you refused to submit to the test then you have 30 days to file a civil action in the county court to contest the suspension.
In either case, the officer should give you a form stating that you have a 15 day permit to drive (assuming you are otherwise eligible to drive). If the administrative hearing is requested or civil action filed then this temporary driving privilege may be extended.
After all of the above, you could also have your privilege to drive suspended if you are convicted for Driving While Intoxicated in Missouri. If you are convicted the Missouri Department of Revenue will assess 8 points to your driving privilege for a first offense and 12 points if you have been previously convicted.
There are short time periods involved with a license suspension due to DWI. To be safe you should plan on hiring an attorney less than 15 days after a DWI arrest. If you wait too long you could lose the ability to fight the administrative suspension.
I’ve talked to many people over the years who thought that there was no point in hiring an attorney after being arrested for DWI. They thought it would be too expensive and there was no chance of winning. You should know that there is always a chance. Working with a knowledgeable DWI lawyer will give you a much better chance and more options for resolving the case. The best thing to do is consult a DWI attorney and do it early. Like I’ve said before, you don’t have to hire me but hire the best attorney you can afford.