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DWI Lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri

DUI DWI Lawyer, Drunk Driving, Driving While Intoxicated Attorneys St. Louis

Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence in Missouri has become an increasingly serious offense over the years, and the complexity of these cases has made them a specialty practice area all on their own. Not only are there criminal ramifications, but your driving privileges can be affected substantially and possibly wind up being denied for years. After a DWI arrest in Missouri, two separate legal proceedings are taken against the driver, a criminal proceeding and an administrative proceeding.

Driving While Intoxicated Criminal Proceedings

In the criminal proceeding, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was operating a vehicle either in an intoxicated condition, or with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. In cases where a BAC reading was taken by the arresting officer, the prosecutor must show that the arrest was made with probable cause to believe the driver was driving while intoxicated before those test results may be admitted. The results of the test may be challenged on a number of bases, including that the test was performed improperly or that the test itself was unreliable. In cases where the BAC test was refused, the fact of the refusal may be admitted into court; however, an experienced DWI defense attorney will be able to mitigate this refusal by highlighting the fact that the prosecution has no direct evidence of a blood-alcohol content. Depending on the history of the driver, losing a DWI case can result in a felony conviction and have far-reaching consequences beyond the loss of driving privileges. For the purposes of the repeat DWI offender statute, even a prior dispostion of suspended imposition of sentence (SIS), while not technically a conviction, can result in the new case being charged as an enhanced offense.

Driving While Intoxicated Adminstrative Proceedings

The administrative proceeding is separate from the criminal prosecution but will take place at the same time. This proceeding is prosecuted by the Department of Revenue and the purpose is to suspend or revoke the driver's license to drive. Depending on whether the BAC test was refused, this proceeding takes one of two different directions.

If the driver submits to the test, the driver first has a right to an administrative hearing. The suspension or revocation of the driver's license will not go into effect until after a final decision by the hearing officer. If the driver is unsuccessful at the administrative hearing, the suspension will go into effect, but the driver may still appeal the hearing officer's decision to the circuit court. The hearing officer is employed by the Department of Revenue, so the deck is stacked against the driver at this stage. However, a skilled DWI lawyer may subpoena the arresting officer and obtain very useful information for use in the defense of the criminal proceeding.

Refusal to Submit to a Blood-Alcohol Test Cases

On the other hand, if the driver refuses the test, the suspension must be appealed to the circuit court in the form of a Petition For Review. The driver can often keep his driving privileges during the pendency of this proceeding by obtaining a stay order from the court. At this hearing a number of issues can be raised by the DWI attorney including whether the driver was actually driving, whether the driver was properly under arrest, whether the implied consent warnings were read to the driver, whether there was an actual knowing refusal, and whether the driver was given an opportunity to contact a lawyer, if requested prior to refusing the test.

The practice area of driving while intoxicated is a complicated and ever-changing arena. If you do not make a timely request for a hearing on the suspension or revocation of your license, you will forever lose your right to do so. At Henderson Law Firm, our DWI lawyers have represented defendants in courts throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan area and Eastern Missouri. We will work with you to build a defense that is appropriate to both your goals and your budget. If you have been arrested for DWI or driving with excessive blood-alcohol content, it is crucial that you meet with an experienced DWI lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your rights. Call us today for a free consultation.


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