The magic number is three. In the world of intoxication related offenses, the third one is a charm. It triggers the jump from misdemeanor to felony. For those playing along at home, the statute is Missouri Revised Statute (or R.S.Mo) Chapter 577, section 577.023.
A prior offender is anyone who has plead guilty or been found guilty of a DUI or DWI within the last five years. A persistent offender has plead or been found guilty twice before. There is no time limit mentioned, but number three pushes it from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony. The fourth one, again with no time limit mentioned, makes the offender an aggravated offender looking at a class C felony and after that the person is a chronic offender and that is a class B felony.
The statute also tells us that a prior offender, the person’s second DWI must serve a minimum of ten days in jail. The persistent offender, one who already has two under his belt- so to speak- must serve thirty days in jail. The offenders with three or more on the record go to prison for a minimum of two years and lose the right to drive legally for ten years.
In this age of computerized record keeping, all offenses are there to see, even ones that are twenty years old. I do not condone drinking and driving, at all. That being said, I wonder if taking a law abiding citizen’s ability to drive away for ten years and put them in prison for two or more years doesn’t adversely effect their long term ability to provide an income for the family. A driver’s license only maters to law abiding citizens. The others will continue to drive.
The point of the statute is that there are no more ‘free’ bites at the apple. The State of Missouri considers Driving While Intoxicated very serious crime. That means no one should just plead guilty, even to their first. Don’t drink and drive because if you do you can expect a long drawn out problem and a significant drain on the bank account.
And I haven’t touched on the Administrative Revocation where the State suspends your license on the spot for being over the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol by volume. That’s for another post.