When is a DUI a Felony in Missouri?
UPDATED: March 11, 2020
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- A DUI becomes a felony in the state of Missouri when repeat offenders are charged with three or more separate offenses.
- Felony DUI charges come with hefty fines on top of possible jail time and loss of license.
- Felony DUI charges can also affect your ability to qualify for auto insurance, even to own a car.
A DUI conviction is always a criminal offense, but the difference between DUI felony or misdemeanor charges varies from state to state. DUI felony charges often depend on the number of previous offenses a driver has on their record. Offenders facing a felony DUI conviction will serve time in jail, lose their driving privileges, and be required to pay steep fines and court fees.
When you're stopped for drunk driving, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test that will determine your BAC or drug inebriation. The legal alcohol limit in Missouri is less than .08%. Driving with a BAC of .08% or higher is considered drunk driving. If your drunk driving BAC is .15% or higher in Missouri, you may face increased penalties and will be forced to complete Missouri's DWI court program.
When is a DUI a felony in Missouri?
A DUI becomes a felony in the state of Missouri when repeat offenders are charged with three or more separate offenses. You must have at least two prior DUI-related offenses on your record in order to be convicted of felony DUI in Missouri.
Will a DUI felony have increased penalties?
Felony DUI charges come with higher penalties and fees than first or second-time offenses. Depending on the severity of the DUI charge and the severity of any prior convictions, these can be used to enhance the felony charges.
For example, Missouri DUI laws consider high blood alcohol content (BAC) to be one of many aggravating factors that can affect felony DUI penalties. Other factors that could increase your DUI penalty in Missouri are:
- Out-of-state DUI convictions
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Reckless driving or accident
- Having children in the car
- Driving while under the influence of other drugs
What are the increased penalties for high BAC in Missouri?
If your BAC is more than .15% but less than .20%, you will serve a mandatory two days in jail. Offenders will not be able to waive Missouri's DWI court program and will have to complete a state-approved substance awareness traffic offender program before driving privileges are reinstated.
If your BAC is more than .20%, you will serve a mandatory five days in jail and be required to complete a state-approved rehabilitation program before your license is reinstated.
Can I refuse the breathalyzer test?
Missouri DUI law states that any driver on Missouri state highways automatically consents to a chemical test through the state's Implied Consent Law. You may still refuse the chemical or breathalyzer test. If you refuse a chemical test in Missouri, you will be arrested, your license will automatically be revoked for one year, and you will have a permanent Chemical Revocation charge on your driving record.
Will I serve jail time for felony DUI in Missouri?
Depending on the class of the DUI felony, you could face a minimum of 30 days and up to 15 years in prison. Missouri DUI laws recognize three classes of felony DUI charges:
A third DUI conviction is a Class D felony. Third-time offenders are labeled "persistent" and could face:
- Up to 4 years in prison (or 1 year in county jail)
- Mandatory 30 days in jail
- 60 days of community service
Four-time DUI offenses are a Class C felony. Offenders are labeled as "aggravated" and may face:
- Up to 7 years in prison (or 1 year in county jail)
- Mandatory 60 days in jail
- 30-60 days of community service
Five-time DUI offenses are a Class B felony. Offenders are labeled as "chronic" and face harsher punishments:
- At least 5 years in prison, but no more than 15 years
- 30-60 days of community service
- Mandatory 2 years in jail before being eligible for parole
Can I avoid jail time with a felony DUI in Missouri?
Felony DUI jail time can be avoided altogether if you qualify for and successfully complete Missouri's DWI court program. Missouri DUI laws establish a DWI court program in every county to help those charged with multiple DUI offenses.
Graduating from Missouri's DWI court program will also qualify you for Limited Driving Privileges (LDP). Scroll down for more information on LDP and how you can reinstate your driver's license after a felony DUI charge.
How do I qualify for Missouri's DWI court program?
Some counties will have different criteria for their DWI court programs. Depending on the county where you were arrested, you may need the following to be eligible for Missouri's DWI court program:
- Be charged with a felony DUI
- Enter a plea of guilty to felony DUI charges
- Be diagnosed with a substance abuse/dependency
- Have no pending or prior sexual or violent felony charges
If you are unsure of the eligibility requirements in your county, consult with a DUI attorney about what your options are and whether or not you qualify. Scroll down for more information on how to hire a DUI attorney in Missouri.
What does Missouri DWI court program involve?
Requirements vary by county and by case. In general, Missouri DWI courts expect offenders to:
- Hold steady employment
- Maintain regular meetings with a probation officer
- Submit to drug and alcohol testing and treatment
- Complete community service hours
- Pay court and treatment fees
Depending on the class of the felony DUI, offenders may also be required to enroll in a 12-step program and submit to random home visits.
How long is the DWI court program?
Offenders must participate in the program for a minimum of 45 days before they earn LDP. Depending on the county, you may be required to complete more days or continue with a substance awareness traffic offender program after the minimum 45 days.
How much will I pay in fines for felony DUI?
Felony DUI charges come with hefty fines on top of possible jail time and loss of license. Drunk driving fines increase with each offense, and felony DUI offenders could pay up to $10,000 in DUI fines. Third, fourth, and fifth offenses are considered felonies in Missouri and are labeled persistent offenders, chronic offenders, and aggravated offenders respectively.
Fines can be lessened or forgiven completely if offenders graduate from a DWI court program. Missouri courts also allow the pleading down of DWI offenses, including fines.
If you're facing felony DUI charges, talk with a licensed DUI attorney to find out what options are available to you. Scroll down for more information on hiring a DUI attorney.
How will a felony DUI affect my Missouri driver's license?
Two separate sections of Missouri law regulate DUI charges. The first governs the criminal charges while the other handles the administrative laws responsible for your driving privileges.
Felony DUI charges can also affect your ability to qualify for auto insurance, even to own a car.
Missouri DUI laws state that courts can consider out-of-state DUI convictions as prior offenses when suspending and denying driver privileges and the courts will automatically suspend the license of anyone charged with any drunk driving offenses for a mandatory 90 days.
Your driver's license will be suspended or revoked if you're facing a DUI conviction in Missouri. When facing felony DUI charges, the Missouri DMV will automatically revoke your license for ten years. Offenders can earn back driving privileges if they qualify for Missouri's DWI court program.
What is the difference between a license suspension and a license revocation?
Unlike a suspension, revocation is a complete seizure of your driving rights. Your license will be reinstated after ten years only after you complete the following steps:
- Pay $45 reinstatement fee
- File and maintain proof of liability insurance
- File proof of completion of Substance Awareness Traffic Offender Program
- File proof of Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
- Retake driver's exam
If this is your first DUI-related offense in 5 years, your license will be suspended for 30 days followed by a 60-day restricted driving period. You can install an IID for a 90-day restricted driving privilege and avoid the 30-day suspension. Scroll down for more information on Ignition Interlock Devices.
If you have had more than one offense in 5 years, your license will be revoked for one year. You will not be able to apply for Restricted Driving Privileges, but you can seek Limited Driving Privileges.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)?
An IID is a handheld breathalyzer that is connected to the ignition of your car. It prevents a driver from starting their vehicle without registering their blood alcohol content (BAC) first. Drivers must blow into the device and register a BAC below .08% to start their car.
IIDs are issued on an offender's second offense in Missouri. Felony DUI charges will automatically require an IID installation, and you will have to install an IID with camera and GPS capabilities if you want your license to be reinstated.
The driver is responsible for finding a state-approved IID manufacturer and paying all fees associated with the installation of the device. Reports from the IID are then sent monthly to monitor a driver's behavior.
The manufacturer of the IID is required to notify MDOR if there are any violations. These include high BAC and device tampering.
If there is a violation, you will be required to maintain the IID for an extended period of time. The amount of time depends on the individual charges and can range from an additional 30 days up to 3 months.
You can remove the IID without penalty when you verify with MDOR that you've fulfilled your sentence. Only after the manufacturer reports to MDOR that there were no violations can you safely remove the IID. You could have your license suspended again for removing the IID early and without verification.
How can I qualify for Limited Driving Privileges (LDP) with felony DUI charges?
If this is your third DUI charge within the past 5 years, you are not eligible for Restricted Driving Privilege. You can only apply for Limited Driving Privileges (LDP). These privileges are limited to necessary driving, such as for employment, doctor's appointments, and any other important routes as approved by Missouri court.
You will not be eligible for LDP with felony DUI in Missouri if you fail to meet the reinstatement requirements listed above. Missouri DUI laws list other reasons you cannot qualify for LDP. They include, but aren't limited to:
- You are not a resident of Missouri or enrolled as a student
- You fail to pass a driving or medical exam
- You have unpaid tickets in Missouri or another state
- You have a suspension, revocation, or cancellation of a commercial driver's license
Offenders can also qualify for LDP by completing the Missouri DWI court programs discussed above.
How can I apply for LDP in Missouri?
You must file a petition with your local circuit court to apply for LDP with felony DUI charges. You will have to pay the filing fee and any lawyer fees you accrue during this time.
Because you have more than one DUI charge on your record, you will be required to install an IID with a camera and GPS capabilities to qualify for LDP. You will also fill out an SR-22 insurance form and file it with the Missouri Department of Revenue (MDOR) as proof of liability insurance before driving privileges are reinstated.
Will a felony DUI affect my car insurance?
A felony DUI conviction will change your car insurance. Offenders with felony DUI convictions in Missouri are considered high-risk car insurance drivers and are required to fill out an SR-22 form. You will need to file an SR-22 form if you want to apply for RDP or LDP in Missouri.
What is an SR-22 form and proof of liability auto insurance?
An SR-22 form proves that you have liability auto insurance that meets Missouri's minimum liability insurance limits for drunk drivers. An SR-22 is necessary to qualify for restricted or limited driving privileges.
The Missouri DMV requires that offenders file the SR-22 form for two years from the date of your suspension or revocation in order to be eligible. Your license will not be reinstated without this proof of liability auto insurance.
How expensive is high-risk auto insurance for felony DUI?
Your driving record is the biggest influence over your car insurance costs. A felony DUI on your driving record makes you a high-risk driver. Being a high-risk driver in Missouri means insurance companies can charge you with higher premium payments because of a felony DUI.
Drivers with three or more DUI-related violations on their records can see DUI insurance rates as high as $1700 per year.
Where can I find high risk auto insurance in Missouri?
Missouri insurance laws require that all drivers maintain liability insurance for damages and injuries caused by an accident. Drivers with a felony DUI will need to find liability insurance that covers the increased risk of their DUI-related charges. You can compare the auto insurance options available to you in Missouri and see where you can save.
If you're facing felony DUI charges and are curious about car insurance for a DUI, you can get a free insurance comparison right here at FreeAdvice. You can compare quotes from the top insurance companies in Missouri to find an affordable rate.
How can I hire a DUI attorney in Missouri?
You can easily find DUI attorneys online by using The Missouri Bar Lawyer Search on the state's bar website. This will connect you with licensed attorneys in your county, and you can search based on their area of practice.
In Missouri, your attorney will only have 15 days from the offense to request a hearing on your behalf. So it is in your best interest to hire a DUI attorney who specializes in Missouri DUI law and has experience defending DUI offenders in court as soon as possible.
Here are a few key inquiries to make when searching for a DUI attorney:
- Is my attorney from a large firm or a small firm?
- Is my attorney licensed?
- What is my attorney's disciplinary history?
- Does my attorney have positive reviews?
- Will I be able to meet with my attorney in person?
If you wish to remain anonymous and speak to a DUI attorney discreetly, you can use FreeAdvice's Free DUI Case Evaluation Tool to contact one.
It is in your best interest to hire a DUI attorney if you're facing felony DUI charges. Your attorney will assess your case and help you determine your options moving forward. They will also be able to represent you in court, complete paperwork, and handle other administrative tasks.
Depending on the circumstances, DUI attorneys can often lessen charges and help offenders avoid more serious and long-term consequences. If you are a minor, facing high BAC charges, or if this is an aggravated or chronic felony DUI, you should definitely consider hiring a DUI attorney.
Can minors be charged with felony DUI in Missouri?
Minors between the ages of 16 and 20 face their own penalties if found inebriated, driving while intoxicated, or in possession of drugs and alcohol. This is known as "Zero Tolerance" in Missouri, and Minors will be charged with Minor in Possession (MIP).
Minors face charges if it can be proved that they consumed drugs or alcohol, even if they aren't in possession of it at that moment.
MIP is a class D misdemeanor charge that increases in severity just as felony DUI charges do:
- 1st offense: license suspension for 30 days, fines up to $300
- 2nd offense: license suspension for 90 days
- 3rd offense: license revoked for 1 year
Missouri DUI law also requires minors to complete a SATOP program for any drug or alcohol-related traffic and possession charges.
If a minor is arrested with a BAC of .20%, they will face administrative charges akin to those listed above. They could lose driving privileges for a longer period of time and may be required to attend Missouri DWI court programs or other state-approved rehabilitation.
How do Missouri's changing medical marijuana laws affect my felony DUI charges?
Missouri's new marijuana laws are changing the landscape of Missouri DUI laws. As of 2014, marijuana possession is decriminalized in Missouri.
Possession of 10 grams or less is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by fine. Higher amounts are still punishable by jail time, and drivers can still face drug possession charges if they are already facing drug possession DUI or felony DUI charges.
Can I still go to jail for drug possession DUI in Missouri?
Felony DUI charges can be compounded with drug possession charges if offenders are found with more than 35 grams of marijuana or any amount of another controlled substance in their vehicle. Possession of a controlled substance or more than 35 grams of marijuana is a class D felony that comes with a jail sentence of up to 7 years.
What is the difference between drug possession DUI and drug delivery charges?
If you are stopped on the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, and officers can prove you were on your way to deliver more than 35 grams of marijuana or any other controlled substance, you will face a higher class felony charge and up to 10 years in prison.
Delivery of less than 35 grams of marijuana comes with a prison sentence of up to 4 years. Delivery of a controlled substance or more than 35 grams of marijuana to a minor comes with a jail sentence of up to 15 years.
What to do if you're facing felony DUI charges in Missouri
Felony DUI charges can have long-term effects on your driving record, your employment record, and your ability to find insurance, loans, and even secure credit. Fortunately, Missouri DUI laws are designed to help rehabilitate chronic and aggravated felony DUI offenders and keep them out of jail.
If you're facing felony DUI charges in Missouri, you should get in contact with a licensed DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Consult with them to assess your case and your pending charges. See if you qualify for a Missouri DWI court program, and begin the process to apply for Limited Driving Privileges by filing an SR-22 and researching high-risk car insurance for DUIs.
Can I get out of a felony DUI charge in Missouri?
There are a few defenses DUI attorneys can use to get you out of a felony DUI charge, but if you're found guilty of felony DUI, you will most likely face jail time and fees.
It's important to remember that the trial process for felony DUI in Missouri will be long and tedious. Hiring a DUI attorney can help mitigate the paperwork and required court appearances, but you will be responsible for meeting all the requirements expected of you after sentencing and in DWI court.
If you have any aggravating factors connected with your felony DUI, such as reckless driving or a high BAC, hiring a DUI attorney is in your best interest.
- Missouri DUI/DWI Glossary of Terms
- Missouri DUI/DWI Insurance Consequences:
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- How Does a Drunk Driving Conviction Affect Your Record?
More Missouri DUI Information - Missouri DUI Lawyers & Convictions - Missouri DUI Statutes, Resources - Do you need a DUI Lawyer? - Post your Case to an North Carolina DUI Attorney. No Cost. No Obligation.