The Statute of Limitations for DWI Cases in Missouri

The state’s statute of limitations sets time limits for bringing criminal charges. If the prosecution fails to bring a case within this time limit, the defendant can ask for it to be dismissed.

These time limits vary by type of civil claim or criminal charge. Missouri does not have a statute of limitations for murder or Class A felonies, but it does have one for misdemeanors and most other crimes.

  1. Time for the Prosecutor to File Charges

Many crimes have a time frame within which a prosecutor must bring legal action against the suspected perpetrator. This is known as a statute of limitations for DWI cases in Missouri.

In Missouri, law enforcement officers have up to one year to file drunk driving charges after an arrest. This gives the prosecution plenty of time to gather evidence and interview eyewitnesses.

A Missouri DUI conviction shows up on criminal background checks, which may cause problems for employment, professional licenses, military service and volunteer opportunities. First offenders can apply to have an old DUI expunged from their record after meeting specific criteria.

You can be charged with a DWI in Missouri for any type of vehicle, even though the implied consent warning only mentions driving on “public highways.” This includes county or local roads, private streets and driveways, private property and parking lots. A first alcohol related DWI in Missouri will result in an administrative suspension or revocation of your driver’s license of thirty days, followed by sixty days of restricted driving privileges.

  1. Time for the Defense to File a Motion

In a Missouri DWI case, your lawyer may need to file a motion challenging the validity of a blood alcohol content test or breathalyzer instrument. This is done at an initial court appearance, referred to as the arraignment.

The court will read the formal charges against you and ask if you plead guilty or not guilty. This is the only time you can challenge a DWI in the court system.

It is important to note that the clock starts ticking once you blow into a breath testing device or refuse it. The state’s implied consent law states that individuals may be arrested for drunk driving on any public highway in the state but the courts have found that this language is ambiguous and it can be applied to county, city, private roads or drives and parking lots (Bertram v. Director of Revenue, 1996; Peeler v. Director of Revenue, 2003).

A lawyer can also file a motion to challenge the observation period before the breath test. This can be a big issue if the officer did not watch you closely enough to ensure that you did not regurgitate, burp, or belch which could adversely affect the breath test results.

  1. Time for the Court to Decide

In Missouri, DWI laws carry serious penalties. If you are found guilty of DWI, you could be forced to serve jail time and have your license revoked or suspended. Additionally, you may be ordered to take an alcohol education course and pay substantial fines.

A DWI arrest combines two cases: the criminal case and the civil case with the Department of Revenue regarding your driver’s license. The Department of Revenue will review your breath test results and impose an administrative suspension or revocation.

Missouri law requires you to submit a sample of your breath, saliva or blood for chemical testing. If you refuse to provide a sample, your driving privilege is automatically revoked for one year. A lawyer can help you minimize the consequences of a DWI arrest.

  1. Time for Expungement

An expungement of a drunk driving conviction is a chance to start over. It removes the conviction from your record, so you can swear under oath that it never happened. You also don’t have to disclose the conviction when applying for jobs, housing, or professional licenses.

You must wait a minimum of 10 years before getting your DUI expunged in Missouri. To qualify, you must have a first offense DUI, not have any other alcohol-related convictions, and not have pending charges or arrest records related to an alcohol offense. You must also pay a fee when filing the petition, but you may be able to get this reduced based on your income.

Once the judge reviews your petition and hears testimony from witnesses, they will decide whether to grant you a hearing on the issue of expungement. During this hearing, the judge will examine the evidence to see if it is in the public’s interest for you to have your record expunged.


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