DWI COURT PROCESS
Almost every DWI arrest triggers two independent penalty processes; the civil license hearing (administrative or chemical refusal) and the DWI court process.
- 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.
- 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:
- Officer stops your motor vehicle on probable cause that a traffic offense has been committed (lane violation, speeding, no lights, etc.);
- Officer detains you for a DWI investigation because he/she smells an alcoholic beverage;
- You are asked to perform the horizontal gaze nystagmus, vertical gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, one leg stand, and portable breathalyzer test;
- Officer alleges probable cause to arrest you for DWI;
- Officer reads you the Missouri Implied Consent Warning and asks you to submit to a chemical test;
- 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;
- Officer reads you your Miranda rights and asks guilt seeking questions; and
- You will be taken to jail for processing.
- Initial Court Appearances:
- Upon release, you will be given a ticket with your court date or receive a summons or warrant to appear in court;
- Unless you hire an attorney, you will likely need to appear in court every 30 days;
- 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.);
- I will meet with the prosecuting attorney; and
- I will meet with you to review all evidence and start planning your defense.
- Pre-Trial Hearings:
- I will research any pre-trial motions that could lead to the dismissal or amendment of your DWI; and
- 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.
- 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.
- 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;
- I will always work to present you with several pre-trial and trial options;
- It will always be your decision whether your case proceeds to a trial;
- 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.
Updated on March 23rd, 2020