Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense that puts not only the driver but also the general public at risk. When it comes to underage individuals, the consequences of drinking and driving can be even more severe. In the state of Missouri, strict laws are in place to discourage underage drinking and driving.
Zero-Tolerance Law in Missouri
In Missouri, the legal drinking age is 21, and anyone under this age caught driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face severe legal consequences. Underage DWI laws in Missouri are designed to deter young drivers from engaging in dangerous behavior and to protect their safety and the safety of others on the road.
Missouri has a “Zero Tolerance Law,” which means that any driver under the age of 21 who is found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or higher can face legal consequences, including license suspension, fines, mandatory substance abuse programs, and potential criminal charges.
If an underage driver is suspected of driving under the influence, law enforcement officers can conduct a breathalyzer test or ask for a blood or urine sample to determine the presence of alcohol or drugs. Refusing to comply with these tests can result in automatic license suspension.
What are the Penalties for Underage DWI in Missouri?
A first offense is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by driver's license suspension can last for 90 days, fines can go up to $1,000, and a jail sentence of up to six months. A second offense carries license suspension for a year, fines of up to $2,000, and a maximum jail term of one year.
Keep in mind, if an underage driver's BAC is at least 0.08%, they will be charged with a standard DWI like an adult driver.
In addition to these penalties, an underage DWI conviction can also have long-term consequences. It can negatively impact educational opportunities, future employment prospects, and even personal relationships. Moreover, multiple convictions may lead to more severe penalties and potential felony charges.
What is the GDL Program?
In Missouri, the Graduated Driver License (GDL) program is designed to help new and inexperienced drivers, including underage drivers, develop their driving skills gradually and safely. The program consists of three stages: the instruction permit stage, the intermediate license stage, and the full driver's license stage.
The GDL program in Missouri has the following implications for underage DWI offenders:
- Instruction Permit Stage: At the age of 15, individuals can apply for an instruction permit in Missouri. During this stage, drivers are required to complete 40 hours of supervised driving, including a minimum of 10 hours of nighttime driving. Underage drivers with an instruction permit are not allowed to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Violating this rule can result in the suspension or revocation of their driving privileges.
- Intermediate License Stage: After holding an instruction permit for at least 182 days and reaching the age of 16, drivers can apply for an intermediate license in Missouri. During this stage, certain restrictions are imposed on underage drivers, including limitations on nighttime driving and the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle. Underage drivers with an intermediate license are also prohibited from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Violating this restriction can lead to severe consequences, such as license suspension, fines, mandatory alcohol education programs, and potential criminal charges.
- Full Driver License Stage: At the age of 18, drivers who have successfully completed the instruction permit and intermediate license stages can apply for a full driver's license in Missouri. By this stage, the underage DUI implications are similar to those for drivers of legal drinking age.
Navigating the complexities of underage DWI laws in Missouri requires a comprehensive understanding of the legal system. If you or your loved one is facing an underage DUI charge, seeking professional legal assistance is crucial. The Hammer Law Firm, LLC, with its expertise in handling underage DWI cases, can provide the guidance and support you need. Remember, taking immediate action and securing reliable legal representation is vital in protecting your rights and securing the best possible outcome.
Contact us today at (314) 334-3807 for more information.