Evan M. Howard
Missouri Accident Related Traffic Violations
In some cases, an auto accident can go from a civil incident to a criminal action. In Missouri, some of these criminal charges can be hit and runs, reckless driving and drunk driving. Hit and Run A “hit and run” in Missouri is also known as leaving the scene of an accident. You will be charged with a hit and run if you are the driver of a vehicle that is in an accident and leave the scene of the accident without providing information to the other driver or a police officer. The information you need to provide is (1) your name, (2) where you live, (3) registration number, and (4) your driver’s license number. The charge of leaving the scene of an accident is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $2,000. If your accident causes physical injury, causes damages over $1,000 in damage or have previously been found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident the charge increases to a Class E Felony. A Class E Felony is punishable to 4 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. In addition to the civil issues and criminal charges, you will also face getting points on your driver’s license. If a Missouri state trooper issues you the leaving the scene ticket, you will get 12 points added to your driver’s license, a 1 year revocation of your license and will be ineligible for a hardship license. If, on the other hand, you get the ticket from a town or county police officer, you will only get 6 points on your license and will be eligible for a hardship license. Read my blog post, The Side Effect of Pleading Guilty to Traffic Violations for more information. Reckless Driving Believe it or not, driving is a privilege and not a right. While driving, every person has a legal duty to use the “highest degree of care” when on the roadways. Everyone must operate their vehicle in a careful and prudent manner, in a careful and prudent rate of speed and must not operate with the intent of endangering the property or personal safety of another person. Violating these laws could end up in a hefty misdemeanor charge. Failure to exercise the highest degree of care is a Class B Misdemeanor with up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $500. Failure to exercise the highest degree of care and causing an accident is a Class A Misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $1,000. In addition to criminal charges, you can also receive 4 points on your driver’s license. Read my blog post, The Side Effect of Pleading Guilty to Traffic Violations for more information. Drunk Driving Driving While Intoxicated charges are extremely serious charges not only in Missouri, but in every state in the United States. Intoxication is defined in Missouri as “when a person is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or drug, or any combination thereof.” In Missouri the blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is considered driving while intoxicated. Depending on your situation or the amount of prior DWI’s a person has could determine if the charge is going to be a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have a commercial driver’s license with a BAC of 0.04% or higher or are a minor with a BAC of 0.02% or more, you will also face DWI charges First Offense DWI Your first DWI in Missouri will be a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable to at least 6 months in jail and fines up to $500. In addition, you will be force to enter into an alcohol treatment or addiction program. Second Offense DWI If you’ve received a second DWI within a 5 year people, you will be considered a prior offender for the second charge. In Missouri, a DWI with prior offender status is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable up to 1 year in jail and fines up to $1,000. In addition, you may be facing a mandatory minimum of 10 days in jail before being eligible for probation or parole. Third Offense DWI A third DWI charge can be eligible for persistent offender status. A persistent offender is another who has two or more prior convictions for DWI. Missouri use to have a time restriction where if a prior DWI was outside of the 10 year window, it wouldn’t be considered a third DWI charge; this is no longer the case. Regardless of how long ago your prior DWI charges were, the State can enhance your charges to persistent offender status. A persistent offender DWI charge in Missouri is a Class E Felony, punishable up to 4 years in prison and fines up to $5,000. You may also have to serve a minimum of 30 days in jail before you’ll be eligible for probation or parole. Fourth Offense DWI After your fourth DWI offense, you will be considered an aggravated offender. An aggravated offender in Missouri is a person who has been found guilty of (1) Three or more intoxication-related traffic offenses committed on separate occasions; or (2) Two or more intoxication-related traffic offenses committed on separate occasions where at least one of the intoxication-related traffic offenses is an offense committed in violation of any state law, county or municipal ordinance, any federal offense, or any military offense in which the defendant was operating a vehicle while intoxicated and another person was injured or killed. A fourth DWI in the State of Missouri is a Class D Felony, punishable up to 7 years in prison and fines of $5,000. There is also a mandatory minimum of 60 days in jail before being eligible for probation or parole. Driving While Intoxicated charges are serious charges and can have a lasting impact on your life. In addition to the criminal charges, you will be facing suspension of your driver license. A DWI conviction could prohibit you from getting a job or could result in your losing your job or professional license. If you’ve been charged with an accident related crime, contact Howard Haake at (314) 325-9868 or (636) 332-5555 for a free consultation and learn what rights and remedies are best for your situation.