Almost every DWI arrest triggers two independent penalty processes; the civil license hearing (administrative or chemical refusal) and the DWI court process.  

  1. Civil License Hearing: this ultimately decides whether your driver’s license should be suspended or revoked. You will face an administrative license hearing through the Missouri Department of Revenue if a chemical test indicates that your blood alcohol content is .08% or above. You will face a chemical refusal action if you are alleged to have refused to take a chemical test.

  2. DWI Court Process: this can take place in municipal court (i.e., Clayton, Ladue, Town & Country, etc.), State court (St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, etc.), or Federal court (Eastern District of Missouri). This process can lead to jail/prison time, fines, and loss of license.

The DWI court process will typically look something like this:

  1. Arrest:
    1. Officer stops your motor vehicle on probable cause that a traffic offense has been committed (lane violation, speeding, no lights, etc.);
    2. Officer detains you for a DWI investigation because he/she smells an alcoholic beverage;
    3. You are asked to perform the horizontal gaze nystagmus, vertical gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, one leg stand, and portable breathalyzer test;
    4. Officer alleges probable cause to arrest you for DWI;
    5. Officer reads you the Missouri Implied Consent Warning and asks you to submit to a chemical test;
    6. You submit to a chemical test and receive a Form 2385 if your blood alcohol content is .08% or above or you receive a Form 4323 if you refuse chemical testing;
    7. Officer reads you your Miranda rights and asks guilt seeking questions; and
    8. You will be taken to jail for processing.

  2. Initial Court Appearances:
    1. Upon release, you will be given a ticket with your court date or receive a summons or warrant to appear in court;
    2. Unless you hire an attorney, you will likely need to appear in court every 30 days;
    3. If hired, I will preserve, request, and review all evidence relevant to your defense (i.e., police reports, audio, video, and pictures, witness statements, etc.);
    4. I will meet with the prosecuting attorney; and
    5. I will meet with you to review all evidence and start planning your defense.

  3. Pre-Trial Hearings:
    1. I will research any pre-trial motions that could lead to the dismissal or amendment of your DWI; and 
    2. If I find that procedures were not followed, were unlawful/unfair, or violated your constitutional rights, I will file motions to dismiss your case, motions to suppress evidence in your case, and motions to exclude evidence from your case. This means your case may be dismissed.

  4. Plea Negotiations:
    a. Before trial, I will work to have your charges dismissed or amended;                     
    b. Trials can cause a client stress, loss of time, and loss of money;  therefore, I always work to present clients with several options; and
    c. In some cases, it might be in your best interest to plead guilty to a pre-trial disposition; however, this is 100% your decision.

  5. Trial: 
    1. Your only power in the criminal justice system is the power to litigate a case, it is the only thing you can demand a prosecutor and judge do;
    2. I will always work to present you with several pre-trial and trial options;
    3. It will always be your decision whether your case proceeds to a trial;
    4. At trial a judge or jury will decide whether the prosecutor has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you operated a motor vehicle in an intoxicated condition.

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Updated on March 23rd, 2020