Is a DWI a Felony or Misdemeanor in Missouri?

Being convicted of a DWI (driving while intoxicated) or DUI (driving under the influence) charge in the state of Missouri is a criminal matter. These charges can be extremely serious and can potentially follow you for the rest of your life if they’re not properly handled. Heavy fees, license suspensions, community service, jail time, and permanent charges on your criminal record are a few of the consequences you may face.

How serious your charges and their consequences are will depend on many factors, but one of the most important is if any previous DWIs or DUIs are on your record. This factor will also determine how your DWI or DUI is categorized. Your first DWI or DUI in Missouri will be categorized as a misdemeanor. If this isn’t your first offense, the rules become slightly more complicated.

Helping Columbia Residents Get Home Safe in 2017


It’s no secret that when it comes to education, entrepreneurship, and industry, those of us who live and work in Columbia, Missouri know how to get down to business. That being said, we also know how to party. Stroll the streets of downtown Columbia during a major holiday or Mizzou sports weekend, and you can definitely see the alcohol flowing freely. Though our law enforcement has made great strides in the past several years in reducing the number of drunk driving fatalities and arrests, we still have a long way to go to get that number down to zero.

On a national level, there were nearly 10,000 alcohol related driving fatalities in 2014. 205 of these occurred in Missouri, ranking us in the top 10 for drunk driving for that particular year. Add these statistics to our extremely low beer and wine taxes (2nd and 3rd lowest in the nation, respectively) and you have a toxic brew.

5 Common Missouri Car Crash Myths

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’re already aware of the fact that driver safety is something I’m passionate about. It’s important to me that I not only do everything I can to protect my clients who have been in tragic car crashes, but to also do everything I can to educate drivers about protecting themselves from future crashes. There’s a lot we can do in the state of Missouri to prevent accidents and crashes.

As a personal injury lawyer who’s also an advocate for roadway safety, I often hear stories about individuals who have been in a crash or know someone who was and believe certain facts to be true that actually aren’t. I hear some interesting car crash myths when meeting with potential clients for the first time.

The Dangers of Driving While Distracted

Everywhere you turn, people are using their smart phones or electronic devices.  Oftentimes, pedestrians on their cell phones are looking down and are not paying attention to the what’s in front of them.  In fact, these people are now called “smartphone zombies.”  A smartphone zombie is described as someone “who walks slowly and without attention to their surroundings because they are focused on their smartphone.” 

Even though that’s a humorous name for people we all know (and might be ourselves) who use their cellphones while walking, there can be serious consequences for distracted walkers.  For example, when the Pokemon craze hit this last summer there were reports of distracted gamers walking into ponds, running into other pedestrians, and even falling off of cliffs!  Now imagine those people behind the wheel of a car or truck!

5 Common Forms of Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice is a form of negligence that can occur at hospitals or any medical institution where professionals are expected to provide medical care that prioritizes the health and safety of its patients. All doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals have a duty to protect their patients and deliver the best care possible. When these expectations aren’t met and a mistake that results in injury or suffering is made, we call this malpractice.

Many hospitals and doctor’s offices are understaffed, which can unfortunately lead to oversights and poor medical care.   Even though many doctors and nurses do a wonderful job and do their best to provide great care, there are occasions where medical malpractice happens. As a result, we always need to keep an eye out for any signs of malpractice should it ever occur. When we’re aware of the facts, we learn how to take action to protect our loved ones.

Improving Auto Safety: “Crash” vs. “Accident”

In my last blog I used the phrases “automobile crash” and “automobile accident” when writing about safety on Missouri roadways.  Before I could write about why I used both terms I received a few questions from very observant readers about why I didn’t just say “automobile accident” (thanks for paying attention!).  Hopefully, the following explains why I think we should use “crash” instead of “accident” when it comes to describing a majority of traffic fatalities and traffic injuries involving an automobile.

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, “crash” and “accident” are defined this way:

Crash:  To hit something hard enough to cause serious damage or destruction;

Accident:  A sudden event (such as a crash) that is not planned or intended and that causes damage or injury;

An accident is an event or incident that is unplanned, unforeseen, or unintended.  Everyone (including myself) nearly always refers to automobile crashes or collisions as “automobile accidents”.  When I think of an “automobile accident”, I immediately think that it was something that was unplanned or unintended.  In other words, someone made a mistake or couldn’t have done anything to avoid hitting another car (or person). 

What Can Be Done About Missouri Car Accidents?

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), there was an 11.4 increase in automobile fatalities on Missouri roads in 2015.[1]   As of the writing of this entry, there are currently 591 reported vehicle fatalities in Missouri, which is already 18 more automobile accident and automobile crash fatalities than there were at this point in 2015.[2]  As of two weeks into September, 2016, we were already at 26 automobile accident and automobile crash fatalities. 

When you consider that there were 15 fatalities for ALL of September, 2015, the numbers show that we are clearly seeing a sharp rise in automobile fatalities on Missouri roadways.  These numbers have to stop climbing and we all must do more to prevent needless car accident and car crashes on Missouri roadways.  To start this process, though, we must understand the causes of automobile fatalities and raise awareness about safety steps we can all take to make our roadways safer.

4 Surprising Things About Getting a DWI in Missouri

As a resident of Missouri, getting a DWI (driving while intoxicated) or DUI (driving under the influence) conviction can negatively affect your life in many ways. At worst, you can serve jail time and have your license permanently taken away. In lesser cases, you may just have to pay a fee and/or face some length of probation time.

The severity of your punishment will depend on many factors including the nature of the conviction, your conviction history, and more. When it comes to knowing how severe your particular consequences may be, it can be difficult to predict how a case may go. First, it helps to know all of the facts. Here are 4 things you may not know about getting a DWI in the state of Missouri:

You Don’t Have to Submit to Breathalyzer Tests

Contrary to what the police officer may lead you to believe, you have a right to say “no” to any type of tests you’re asked to take when you get pulled over. This includes any breathalyzer tests, whether at the scene or at the station. Refusing to take these tests may impact your case, but depending on the nature of your case and any previous convictions, it may be better to refuse than take the test.  Again, this all depends on the facts of your specific case and every situation is different.

Can You Be Convicted for Trespassing in Your Home?

The answer to this question may surprise you. According to the Missouri Court of Appeals regarding State v. Hill, ED103396, yes, you can be convicted for trespassing—even if you are in your own home.

Frederick Hill III was residing in a mobile home which he owned with his girlfriend, Mary Vinson. In December of 2013, Ms. Vinson was granted an ex parte order of protection against Hill.  According to the order, Hill was ordered to not enter or stay upon the premises of his girlfriend’s residence, workplace, or school. The Order of Protection specifically listed the mobile home’s address as Ms. Vinson’s home address.

On the same day the order was issued, a Pike county deputy served and read the order on Hill at the mobile home. Hill was unaware that Ms. Vinson had obtained the order of protection and refused to leave, saying that he had not done anything wrong. After a standoff occurred between Hill and several officers who responded to the scene, Hill eventually relented and agreed to leave. Hill was then arrested for violating the order because he refused to leave the mobile home after the deputy read him the order. Hill was later convicted for a class B misdemeanor of trespass in the first degree.

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