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Driving under the influence of drugs in Missouri: What you need to know

On Behalf of | Jan 23, 2024 | Criminal Defense

All drivers must adhere to Missouri’s traffic laws and regulations as part of their responsibilities. This includes the state laws on driving while intoxicated (DWI). The rules prohibit drivers from taking the wheel if they’re drunk on alcohol. But the laws also prohibit drivers from operating vehicles while under the influence of a controlled substance.

The legal definition of drug DWI

There’s no separate statute for drug-impaired driving in Missouri. In fact, the state defines “intoxication” as a state where a person is under the influence of either alcohol, drugs, a controlled substance or a combination of the three.

Missouri’s DWI laws further state that it’s unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while impaired, whether due to alcohol, illicit drugs or even prescription medicine.

How officers measure drug impairment

Unlike alcohol, where a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% is a clear indicator that a person is drunk, drug impairment has no such standardized measurement. Thus, law enforcement may turn to observing driving behavior, field sobriety tests and drug recognition experts to determine if a driver is impaired due to a controlled substance.

Officers can use blood or urine tests to detect the presence of drugs in a driver’s system. The same implied consent rules apply to these chemical tests, so a driver who refuses to participate in either test can face a one-year license revocation.

The consequences of drug DWI

First-time DWI offenders may face Class B misdemeanor charges. On conviction, it leads to up to six months of jail and $500 in fines. In addition to these criminal penalties, the state automatically suspends the driver’s license for 90 days.

If the driver had prior DWI offenses, their criminal grade and penalties would increase. For instance, if the driver is a persistent offender by law, their DWI offense becomes a Class E felony. A conviction at that criminal grade leads to up to four years of prison.

Driving under the influence of drugs is a serious offense in Missouri with severe consequences. Understanding the laws and the potential impact such a charge can have on your life is essential. If you face such charges, consider seeking legal counsel at once to navigate the complexities of your defense.