Drunk driving charges are the most commonly filed criminal traffic cases in Missouri. More than 11,000 motorists are charged each year - or about one motorist every 40 minutes. The average cost of a drunk-driving conviction is more than $10,000, including fines, court costs, supervision fees, lost wages and drastically increased insurance premiums.
Unfortunately, many defendants are first-time offenders who often decide to quickly plead guilty and attempt to put the incident behind them. This is a mistake. The consequences of a conviction can last for years, and the increased probability of future traffic stops with a DWI on your driving record means you will be vulnerable to significantly increased penalties in the event you are arrested for a repeat offense.
Consulting an experienced drunk driving defense attorney in St. Louis as soon as possible is the best thing you can do to protect your rights.
Those arrested for allegedly driving drunk actually face two cases:
Motorists have just 15 days to properly request an administrative hearing. Those who fail to defend themselves face the automatic revocation of their driving privileges, regardless of the outcome of their case. As for the criminal case, Missouri law recognizes both driving while intoxicated (DWI) and a Blood-Alcohol Content charge, which assumes guilt if your BAC test was above .08, regardless of the other facts and circumstances of your traffic stop and arrest.
The state hopes you will plead guilty. Simply hiring an experienced St. Louis DWI defense lawyer is a big step that can be enough to improve your bargaining position. The state knows many of these cases are not strong enough to withstand scrutiny of an experienced defense lawyer, let alone a trial. And the number of arrests means the court system cannot begin to offer trials for every defendant who contests the charges.
The legal steps for a contested DWI charge include:
There are many steps in the process and many ways an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer in St. Louis can win a reduction or dismissal of the charges. Any reduction that does not convict a defendant of an alcohol-related traffic offense is a big win. Keeping an alcohol-related charge off your record will ensure you are not subject to significantly increased penalties in the even of a future arrest, will prevent a defendant from suffering employment-related consequences, including the inability to obtain commercial insurance or drive for work, either now or in the future, and save thousands of dollars on increased insurance premiums and other financial consequences of a DWI conviction.
If you have been charged with drunk driving in St. Louis, time is of the essence. Providing proper notice to secure an administrative hearing to protect your driving rights is essential, regardless of the outcome of the criminal case. Your first step should be to reach out to an experienced St. Louis defense lawyer as soon as possible.
If you need an experienced St. Louis defense attorney, call Bert Fulk Attorney at Law today at 314-804-1853 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.