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What is Missouri’s look back period for DWIs?

On Behalf of | Nov 30, 2020 | DWI Law

As we discussed in previous blog posts, the penalties for a DWI conviction can have a serious impact on your life. From potential jail time and paying fines, to reinstating your driving privileges, even one conviction can create a significant amount of stress in your life.

These penalties can multiply if a driver faces multiple DWI offenses in their lifetime. However, it is important to know what Missouri considers a second or multiple offense.

This is why drivers facing these charges must understand how look back periods work.

What is a look back period?

A look back period determines how long a DWI offense appears on your criminal record or affects a subsequent or recent DWI offense. Missouri’s look back period, also known as the “washout” period, is five years.

Here is an example to illustrate how this works:

  • If an individual had a first offense DWI conviction in 2013, that offense would not impact or increase the penalties of a charge in 2020, since five years passed between these two offenses. Basically, the charge the individual faces in 2020 would be considered in criminal courts as a first offense instead of a second offense.
  • On the other hand, if that person faced a second offense within a five-year period after 2013 – say in 2015 – courts would consider the 2015 offense a second offense.

Essentially, the amount of time that passes impacts the criminal penalties individuals face when it comes to multiple DWIs.

Look back periods do not lead to expungement

It is important to note that the look back period does not mean the previous DWI offense disappears from your overall criminal record. The conviction remains.

This period only determines what penalties drivers face in the event of another offense.

This rule applies to criminal records – not driving records

Look back periods are a rule that criminal courts use to determine criminal penalties. It does not pertain to your driving record. Therefore, regardless of how much time passes, you could still face serious administrative penalties for a second offense or multiple offenses.

This is why it is not only important to avoid a second offense, but also to fight any drunk driving charges you might face to protect your rights and your future.


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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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