Those accused of an impaired driving offense could serve time in state custody and will very likely lose their driver’s licenses if they plead guilty to the charges against them. In Missouri, driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges carry increasingly serious penalties with each subsequent conviction.
One of the factors most likely to increase the penalties that someone faces for DWI allegations is their recent driving history. However, there are other considerations that will influence what penalties someone faces for a DWI charge. Certain aggravating factors can lead to harsher sentences imposed by judges or even additional criminal charges.
One of the aggravating factors that can complicate a DWI is the presence of a child in the vehicle. You could very well end up accused of a felony despite having no other arrests on your criminal record.
You may face child endangerment allegations
A first DWI charge where no one gets hurt will usually be a Class B misdemeanor charge. Someone usually needs to harm others or have at least two prior DWI charges for an impaired driving offense to lead to felony charges. Although the DWI you face could be a misdemeanor, the state could pursue a second charge because of a child passenger that could be either a felony or a misdemeanor.
It is a Class D felony in Missouri for someone to put a child into a dangerous situation, and almost everyone will agree with the assertion that driving drunk with the child in the vehicle is a dangerous practice. A Class D felony conviction could carry up to seven years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Although the prosecutor could bring misdemeanor child endangerment charges, they will often pursue the most severe charges and penalties possible in cases involving children.
Unique situations demand careful consideration
Those facing criminal charges related to impaired driving allegations in Missouri need to understand the possible penalties related to those allegations if they hope to minimize the long-term consequences of those charges.
Reviewing the details of a DWI arrest can help an individual hoping to defend themselves against pending criminal charges, especially when they face enhanced charges because there was a child in the vehicle.