Driving while under the influence of alcohol is an extremely dangerous behavior that can negatively affect your life or the lives of others permanently. When you know you’re going to have a few drinks, it is important to plan in advance for how you will get home. Any amount of alcohol can cause impairment to your senses, so arrange for a designated driver, or take an uber. You don’t want to become another drunk-driving statistic, and the risk of causing harm to yourself or another is too high to take the situation lightly.
Penalties for DWI, DUI, and DUID in Missouri
A driver will be charged with a DWI in Missouri if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Drivers who are under the age of 21 years old are held to a stricter standard and will be charged with a DWI if they are found driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.02% or higher. Driving under the influence is grossly negligent behavior that causes thousands of accidents every year in Missouri. If you’ve been hit by a drunk driver, a Kansas City car accident lawyer can help you handle the legal matters that follow.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
Missouri Revised Statutes Section 577.010 says that a person convicted of driving while intoxicated for the first time faces a Class B misdemeanor charge. This can result in a maximum of six months in prison and a fine of up to $500. A criminal conviction for a first-time offender also leads to their license being suspended for 30 days, followed by 60 days of restricted driving privileges. The offender will be on probation for a first offense for 1 to 2 years, which requires the completion of a DWI class and allows no drinking during probation. The penalties for DWI get progressively more severe for repeat offenses.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Some states have distinctions between a charge of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI). In Missouri, however, there is no actual difference between a DUI and DWI. In other states in the country, DUIs are generally the more serious offenses and DWIs less so. In Missouri, there’s no difference between the two classifications. In Missouri, they are words that are often used interchangeably to describe the same thing. However, in Missouri, the preferred term is DWI.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)
Recreational drugs also cause impairment to someone’s driving ability. Under Missouri law, it is also illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of drugs. Missouri law says the penalty for driving under the influence of drugs is the same as those for driving while intoxicated. However, it can be difficult to prosecute these cases as officers often have difficulty recognizing the signs of such impairment because they can vary widely and be more obscure to notice based on the drugs that are used. Any person who is charged with DUID may also face drug possession charges, depending on the kind of drugs they were then under the influence of.
If You Are on the Road With an Intoxicated Driver
Drinking and driving is a serious problem in the United States with over 10,000 people killed by drunk drivers in 2019 alone. This number actually increased in 2020, even though there were fewer cars on the road.
Driving defensively is a set of valuable skills that will help you defend yourself and decrease your risk of being involved in an accident. It’s very unsettling when you suspect that another vehicle on the road, in your vicinity, could be driven by a drunk driver. The reality is that at some point, you are likely to be on the road with someone who is driving while intoxicated. Knowing what to do when you suspect a drunk driver is very important to develop your defensive driving skills, and it could help keep you safe.
Common Signs That a Driver Is Intoxicated
- Sudden acceleration and deceleration
- Driving significantly above or below the speed limit
- Crossing the center line or drifting in and out of lanes
- Nearly hitting vehicles and objects near the roadway
- Jerky reactions and sudden turns
- Over-correcting when steering
- Driving through stop signs or failing to follow other rules of the road
If you notice this type of behavior from a driver on the road, it is important to know how to react to avoid being harmed by the drunk driver. Some people feel inclined to try to investigate and see what is going on with the driver. They may want to try to stop the vehicle so the driver doesn't continue to put others on the road at risk. Others may just ignore the erratic driver and continue on their way. However, make sure that whatever you do, you do not further distract an unpredictable driver. And furthermore, you want to ensure that you are not becoming a distracted driver in the process of handling the situation.
What to Do When You Think a Driver Is Intoxicated
The first thing to do is create distance between your car and theirs to give you more time to react should they do something suddenly. Although you might not want to wait for the police to arrive, it’s best not to take the situation into your own hands. When you are safely able, the proper course of action is to call the police to alert them of the suspected drunk driver.
If you are able, observe the make, model, and color of the car, license plate number, or any other identifying details such as bumper stickers that will help law enforcement track down the vehicle. Next, find a safe place to pull over and call the police. Tell them the location and traveling direction of the suspected intoxicated driver, and explain the behaviors you observed that lead you to believe the driver is impaired. Even if you are hesitant because you don’t want to get someone in trouble, consider the harm they could cause someone else. It is much better to get a DUI than to face the legal and ethical consequences of killing someone while driving drunk.