In early October, Callaway County Sheriff, Clay Chism, was arrested for a DWI when Moberly Police found him crashed into a concrete barrier in an Arby’s parking lot. After being held for 12 hours, he was released on a $2,000 bond. Because Chism had no other prior DUIs or DWIs on his record, he will likely only face a misdemeanor charge. Under Missouri law, a DWI is only a felony if it is the offender’s second offense or if the person committed vehicular manslaughter or caused serious injury to others while intoxicated. If Chism had been charged with a felony, according to Section 57 of the Missouri Revised Statutes, he would have been removed from office.
This arrest highlights an important issue – that being convicted of a DWI, especially a felony DWI, can have serious life-changing implications. Beyond just the legal penalties, it can also impact both your personal and professional life in significant ways. To learn more about what to do if you are pulled over for a DWI in Columbia, reach out to our dedicated attorneys today.
In Columbia, DWIs are taken very seriously. Therefore, it is important to know what to do if you face a DWI charge. A first-time DWI offense is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $500. You will also have your driver’s license automatically suspended for 90 days.
A second DWI offense within 4 years is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. Your driver’s license will also be automatically suspended for one year. If the second offense is within a 5-year period, license denial can be up to 5 years.
A third (or more) DWI offense is considered a felony offense. Jail time is determined by the number of previous DWI on your record but can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $10,000, as well as a revocation of your driver’s license for up to 10 years.
If you are pulled over on suspicion of a DWI in Columbia, it is important to remain calm and be respectful to the officer. Not doing so only exacerbates the situation and can be used against you in court. Besides that, there are some important things to remember in terms of what you should and should not do.
You have the right to remain silent. This means that you do not have to answer any questions about what you were doing or where you were coming from. It is always best to politely decline to answer any questions until you have spoken with an attorney.
Law enforcement officers will always ask you to perform field sobriety tests and hand-held breath tests. These tests are voluntary, and you are not required to perform them. The hand-held breath test is different than the evidentiary breath test that they may request. Refusal can lead to a loss of license for one year and it is important to consider the pros and cons of refusing or submitting to the test. Luckily, Missouri law requires law enforcement to allow you up to 20 minutes to contact an attorney to discuss your rights.
While it is important to know your rights, it is also important to understand that DWIs are very serious offenses. If you have been charged with a DWI, you should contact a DWI attorney in Columbia immediately to discuss your options and ensure that your rights are protected. A criminal defense lawyer can review the facts of your case and help you understand your legal options.
If you’ve been charged with a DWI, our experienced defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Chris Miller can help. We understand the seriousness of DWI charges and will work tirelessly to defend your rights and fight for a favorable outcome in your case. Contact us to discuss what to do if you are pulled over for a DWI in Columbia.