In Missouri, you can be charged with felony DWI in a couple of situations. If you have two prior drunken driving convictions, a third conviction will be regarded as a felony. Felonies, of course, carry significantly tougher penalties than misdemeanors. A first or second DWI offense is typically treated as a misdemeanor; that is, unless a DWI crash happens and a person is injured. Even if it’s your first DWI charge, an injury to a passenger or some other person will result in a felony charge.
These concerns are likely on the mind of a young woman who was recently charged with felony DWI in St. Louis County. The 29-year-old has two prior convictions for drunk driving — one in Arkansas and another in Kirkwood. Her case also illustrates how other states will cooperate with Missouri prosecutors to file drunk driving charges.
The arrest took place in Wildwood, where officers claimed the woman violated traffic laws and failed field sobriety tests. A news report does not indicate whether police administered a breath test or a blood test. Such tests tend to provide stronger evidence for conviction than motor-coordination tests, which can be highly subjective for police officers, but the accuracy of breath tests and blood tests can also be called into question.
A third DWI in Missouri carries serious penalties, such as heavy fines, jail time and loss of driving privileges. With each subsequent DWI conviction after the third, the class of felony increases, as do the penalties. A fifth drunk driving conviction involves a mandatory two-year prison sentence.
Clearly, with felony DWI allegations, the stakes are high in Missouri, and anyone who is facing such charges will need an aggressive legal advocate to mitigate negative consequences. The last thing a defendant should do is simply let prosecutors have their way.
Source: Webster Groves Patch, “Webster Woman Faces Third DWI Charge in Wildwood,” Joe Scott, Jan. 29, 2013