“If I am pulled over and an officer asks me to take field sobriety tests (FST’s), I have to comply”
False. Failure of FST’s is a strong piece of evidence for the government. Many people cannot pass these tests, even when having nothing to drink at all. When you take these tests you are, in most circumstances, simply giving the officer evidence that will later be used against you. Much like your right to remain silent, use your right to refuse FST’s!
“If I am asked to blow into a breathalyzer after being pulled over and arrested, I have to blow or I’ll lose my license for a year automatically”
False. Although the officer will tell you this, he or she is required by the Missouri “Implied Consent Law” to tell you this. The reality is that there are ways to fight the suspension that a good attorney can utilize. When you have consumed even a little bit of alcohol, you are in the grey area for blowing over .08% BAC. However, in many counties including Greene, officers will now seek warrants to draw your blood if you refuse. If the blood draw comes back above .08%, that would potentially add another license suspension. This suspension would be for 90 days rather than for one year, but your attorney would still have to fight the one year refusal suspension as well.
“If I blow high enough on a breathalyzer I have to go to jail”
This can be both true and false, depending on the circumstances. Under State law, if you blow over .15% BAC, you must do two days of “shock time” in the jail in order to keep the conviction off of your record. If the BAC is .20% the mandatory “shock time” goes up to five days. This mandatory jail time is only required in State court, however, not municipal court. It is also only required if you try to keep the conviction off of your record with what is called a “suspended imposition of sentence”. All of this is contingent of course on you pleading guilty to the offense or being found guilty after a trial. If you choose to have a trial and are successful, none of this applies.
“If I blow under .08% BAC, I can’t be arrested or prosecuted”
False. Even if you bow under .08% BAC you can still be arrested and prosecuted for DWI. All the statute in Missouri says is that “a person commits the crime of ‘driving while intoxicated’ if he operates a motor vehicle in an intoxicated or drugged condition.” RSMO. Section 577.010 (2012). Therefore, if the prosecuting attorney believes he or she can prove that a person is “under the influence of alcohol” based on other evidence than the BAC, he or she can and will push forward with the prosecution regardless of the BAC under .08%. The prosecutor can also try to use “drug recognition” to prove that someone is impaired on a substance other than alcohol.
“If I’m in my driveway I can’t get a DWI”
False. If you are observed operating a motor vehicle anywhere, even in your own garage, you can get a DWI if the officer believes he or she has probable cause. Operation has been broadly defined by case law and can even include a person being behind the wheel of a vehicle that is turned off , as long as the keys are in the ignition and the engine is capable of running. Be careful! Even if you are trying to sleep it off, keep the keys in your pocket.
“There are different ways I can lose my license in a DWI case other than just being convicted of the DWI”
True. Besides just the criminal side of the case, which carries the possibility of a point suspension, there is also an administrative side of the case dealing specifically with your driving privilege and is against the Department of Revenue (DOR). There are multitude of different types of suspensions and lengths of suspensions. It is important that you consult an experienced and highly trained DWI attorney for all of your various details as it is a complicated process. You do not want to fight the Department of Revenue on your own. This is especially true if you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or if you have prior alcohol offenses.