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Missouri's DWI laws differ from those of other states. In Missouri, a person is considered to be a repeat DWI offender only when his or her second DWI offense occurs within five years of the prior one.

A third Missouri DWI offense can be prosecuted as a felony, subjecting the person to possible prison time of up to four years. A fourth DWI in Missouri can bring seven years in prison, while a fifth may bring a sentence between five and 15 years in prison.

A first offense DWI in Missouri is a Class B misdemeanor, a fairly low-level criminal offense. It is with repeat offenses that people can end up with felony conviction records and significant possible punishment. In comparison, some states make second offenses felonies; five states do not have a felony DWI offense even with multiple offenses in their history. Reportedly, an estimated 2 million drivers across the country have three or more previous DWI convictions.

People facing a DWI offense may seek to benefit from the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to fight the allegation after carefully reviewing the police reports and any testing that may have been done. For example, it is possible that the detaining officer may have failed to follow the correct methods for administering the standardized roadside sobriety tests. If a person submitted to a breath test, there may have been issues with the Breathalyzer machine, leading to unreliable results. Defense attorneys may sometimes also be able to secure pleas to non-DWI offenses or to lesser included offenses. Especially when someone has several DWIs in their past, the guidance of an attorney may be beneficial.

Source: KQFX, "Comparing Missouri's DWI laws to other states", Lindsey Berning, Jan. 9, 2015

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