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.
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.
Penalties for DWI, DUI, and DUID in Missouri
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 includes with it, the completion of a DWI class and requires no drinking during probation. The penalties for DWI get progressively more severe for repeat offenses.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
While some states have distinctions between a charge of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI), in Missouri the law is clear that 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 are 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 that 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 as 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.
What to Do 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 to 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 will keep you safe. Some of the most common signs of a driver being intoxicated include:
- 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 try 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 they don’t continue to put other drivers on the road at risk of harm. 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.
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 drive, 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 to observe the make, model, and color of the car, license plate number, or any other identifying details such as bumper stickers, that will be essential for law enforcement to 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.
Kansas City DWI Accident Attorney
If you were injured in a DUI accident speak with an experienced drunk driving attorney as soon as possible. Contact Peterson and Associates P.C. by calling 816-298-8708 to speak with a Kansas City drunk driving accident attorney for a free consultation. Our team of lawyers is standing by to help you.