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The penalties for drunk driving can be severe in Missouri, but calculating the ultimate financial cost of a DWI conviction often involves far more than counting up the amount owed in court costs and fines. Those who suffer injury, loss or damage in drunk driving accidents may file lawsuits against the motorists responsible, but even drunk drivers who do not crash may face increased auto insurance premiums and be required to pay a number of legal and administrative fees.

Legal fees are often among the most significant costs associated with a impaired driving charge in Missouri, and motorists accused of driving while intoxicated may have to explain their behavior in criminal courts, civil courts and before hearings conducted by the DMV. Driving privileges are automatically suspended in Missouri when a motorist is charged with DWI, but this suspension can be appealed by those who would face particular hardships if they were unable to drive. If convicted of drunk driving, Missouri motorists may be ordered to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle before their driving privileges are restored.

Motorists convicted of driving drunk also face a number of hidden fees that can really add up over time. Public transportation may not be a viable option for those with a suspended driver's license who live in remote areas or have rigid work schedules, and mounting taxi or car service fees can quickly become a real burden. Auto insurance rates sometimes double for those convicted of DWI, and their premiums may remain high for up to 10 years after their driving privileges have been restored.

Criminal defense attorneys may seek to save their clients from many of these costs by urging prosecutors to reduce or dismiss drunk driving charges during plea negotiations. The toxicology test results that form the basis of most drunk driving charges are not always reliable, and proving criminal charges beyond any reasonable doubt is sometimes challenging for prosecutors even when their evidence seems compelling.

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