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Missouri drivers may be interested in some general information about felony DWI. While DWI is generally considered a misdemeanor, certain circumstances can elevate the criminal charges to the level of a felony.

One situation that could increase the penalties of a DWI is an elevated blood alcohol content level. Every state presumes that a driver is intoxicated when their BAC is measured at .08 percent, but when the measurement is higher, a misdemeanor DWI may be changed to a felony, depending on the state. When a driver's license has been suspended, revoked or otherwise placed under restrictions, this may also increase the penalties for a DWI charge.

When a person is driving while intoxicated with children in the vehicle, many states consider the offense a felony. The maximum age of the child varies by state, however. Missouri does not recognize this rule but makes this crime a misdemeanor.

A misdemeanor DWI can also become a felony in some jurisdictions if the drunk driving causes bodily injury to another person involved. Lastly, multiple DWI convictions within a prescribed period will usually result in a higher penalty for a second or third DWI. The length of this period, however, can change depending on the state. In Missouri, a person who has had two prior intoxication-related traffic incidents will be charged with a felony on the third.

A felony DWI might result in a penalty of over a year in prison in addition to a potential loss of license and heavy fines. When criminal charges are filed for driving while intoxicated, an attorney may be able to help ensure that the person's rights are protected throughout the trial process. The attorney may also be able to successfully contest the government's evidence or negotiate a lower penalty through a plea bargain.

Source: FindLaw, "Felony DUI", September 04, 2014

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