The Costs of a DWI

In the St. Louis area and throughout Missouri this weekend many people will be attending New Year’s Eve parties and enjoying the company of others and quite possibly some alcoholic beverages. One thing to keep in mind over the holiday weekend, and throughout the New Year, is the cost of drinking and driving.

Putting aside the overall dangers of drinking and driving I wanted to provide a glimpse into just the financial costs of getting a typical first time DWI in the State of Missouri. Looking at just the costs of receiving a ticket for a DWI, one can easily see that the alternatives are much cheaper. Small disclaimer: all figure are approximations, every case is different, and no DWI case is actually “typical”. So take the numbers with a grain of salt and look at the bigger picture.

Typical Costs for a First Time DWI

Fines: up to $500
In Missouri your typical first time DWI is considered a Class B Misdemeanor, which carries with it a punishment of up to $500 in fines, as well as up to 6 months in jail. However, in most cases a first time offender will not receive a only a fine, and will typically be placed on probation for up to two years for the first DWI.

Court Costs: $100 or more

As with every court case, from simple speeding tickets to more complicated felony criminal charges, there will be court costs associated with the case that must be paid at the conclusion.

Probation Fees: $600

Most probation terms handed down by the court are for a period of 2 years. These individuals are normally supervised by a private probation company in the St. Louis area and thus, it is up to the individual to pay for such fees associated with the private probation office’s supervision.

SATOP: $505 – $1381

SATOP, or Substance Abuse Traffic Offender’s Program, is a typical requirement, not only of the probation handed down by the court, but also of the Department of Revenue in order to renew a license after a DWI suspension. There are multiple levels of SATOP that an individual can be placed into and the costs are dependent on which level is required.

VIP: $45

A VIP program, or Victims Impact Panel, is also a typical requirement of probation.

Misc. Costs for the Criminal case:

Other costs associated with a DWI could include a SCRAM device required by the court during Probation which costs approximately $12 a day to use. The court may also require an individual to install an Ignition Interlock Device on his or her vehicle which can cost around $75 a month to use. In some cases, an individual arrested for driving under the influence or while impaired may also be required to pay a bond to get released from jail after being arrested. An individual’s car may also be towed adding storage and recovery fees to the costs of a DWI. Some individuals may also be ordered to do community service by the court which may take away time from work.

Misc. Costs Non-Criminal:

In addition to the criminal costs of a DWI, there are intangible costs which will impact an individual including:

  • Lost wages due to court dates or jail time
  • Insurance premiums increased
  • Suspension of license, from 90 days to a year
  • Cost of seeking transportation if license is suspended

Attorney Fees: from $1000 and up

Of course, we can’t forget about the Attorney Fees. A DWI is a serious and complicated charge. This is not a type of case that one would want to handle on their own. It is important that someone charged with a DWI seek the help of a qualified and experienced St. Charles DWI Attorney . Of course, attorneys do not work for free, so this is another cost to be factored into the cost of a DWI. For more information about our DWI law firm, click here.

TOTAL COSTS:

Looking at just some of the costs, including a small fine, probation, Level 1 of SATOP and the low end of the attorney fees, an individual is looking at costs of at least $2500. This is for a first time offense, no accident and no additional tickets being issued. Most first time DWI’s will cost than this. Meaning, that $8 martini you have to top off the night might end up costing a lot more in the long run.

The Alternatives

Does this mean you can’t have fun on New Year’s Eve? Of course not! There are a variety of alternatives that will end up costing a lot less than receiving a DWI from your local law enforcement.

Taxi or Transportation Services: Extreme case:

“Taking a Cab” is probably the most widely used alternative to driving while intoxicated. Typical taxi fares can run between $10-$40 depending on the length of the ride and number of passengers, much cheaper than the $2500 costs of a DWI.

But let’s look at the extreme case: According to Google Maps, the distance to drive from the St. Louis Arch all the way out to Troy, Missouri in Lincoln County is close to 60 miles. Looking at some typical fares and rates around the St. Louis area, this 60 mile trip would run around $140 not including gratuity (and you better tip well for a 60 mile drive). So, even in an extreme case of downtown St. Louis to 60 miles away, an individual would save over $2300 by taking a cab home instead of receiving a DWI ticket.

Add to this fact that numerous companies are offering free taxi services on New Year’s Eve and it’s a no-brainer.

Hotel: Extreme Case: $259

Want to enjoy the New Year and have even less to worry about: book a hotel! With all the options of finding a hotel online now days it’s hard to tell you the typical price of a night’s stay. So, again, we’ll look at an extreme case: a 5 star hotel in downtown St. Louis. Doing a quick search shows the price of one night on the weekend to be roughly $259 a night. A stay at one of the nicest hotels in St. Louis nets a savings of roughly $2200 over a DWI ticket.

Bottom-line: Don’t Drink and Drive

The Costs of a DWI are NOT Worth it

Plan ahead this year and have a plan for getting where you need to be after the festivities are over. Spending a little more on your night out could save you lots of money, aggravation and embarrassment in the long run. More importantly, it could save your life or the life of another.

Five Myths About DWI in Missouri

While some of us may be familiar with the basics of drunk driving and DWI enforcement, a large number of DWI suspects are surprised to learn about the legal realities of their charges. Below, we discuss five common misconceptions held by the public about DWI/DUI and what can be done to best protect the rights and best interests of those accused of these alcohol-related crimes.

“I HAVE TO TAKE THE FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS IF AN OFFICER ASKS ME TO DO SO”

If a Missouri law enforcement officer suspects that you have been drinking and driving he/she will almost always ask you to exit your vehicle and perform a number of field sobriety tests. These tests can include reciting a portion of the alphabet, walking an imaginary line, or standing on one leg. The problem is that there are many things that may affect a person’s ability to properly perform these tests. Also, the officer’s observations of your performance will later be used in court to establish the fact that you were intoxicated.

“I’M GUILTY IF I FAIL THE BREATH TEST”

It’s easy to assume that once you submit to chemical test of your blood or breath and the result is over .08 that it is a foregone conclusion that the State has “proven” that you have been driving while intoxicated and you are therefore guilty of that charge. This is simply not the case. Your guilt is never a foregone conclusion. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty. A failed chemical test does not guarantee a conviction. It’s critical that your defense lawyer understands this and is well acquainted with the breath test devices used in Missouri and who understands the procedures that the person administering the tests has to follow in order to obtain a valid sample.

“I WILL ONLY RECEIVE A SLAP ON THE WRIST FOR A DWI”

Chances are that you probably know somebody who has been arrested for a DWI in the past. Unfortunately, drunk driving is fairly common across all walks of life but it should never be thought of as a simple traffic violation. It is important to understand that DWI is a criminal offense and it can haunt you for the rest of your life. Even a first-time DWI charge can result in lengthy driver’s license suspensions, fines, SATOP classes and sometimes even jail time. That is why it is critical to immediately contact an experienced DWI lawyer who can immediately begin taking the necessary steps to protect your rights and develop an effective defense.

“I HAVE TO ACCEPT MY LICENSE SUSPENSION”

Once you receive your license suspension paperwork from your arresting officer, you have as few as 15 days to request an administrative hearing appealing the department of revenue’s suspension of your Missouri driver’s license. Time is of the essence during this narrow window a time, which is why it is critical that you immediately consult with an experienced DWI attorney who is familiar with this administrative consequences of a DWI arrest and who knows the necessary steps to prevent the suspension/revocation of your driver’s license.

“IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO MY DWI DEFENSE ATTORNEY IS”

If you have been arrested and/or charged with DWI/DUI are interested in exploring your defense options and fighting your charge, then it absolutely matters who you choose to represent you on both the criminal charges and the license suspension case. It might be a good idea to inquire whether your prospective attorney has a record of favorable case results, has accumulated any industry recognition or certifications, and/or has taken part in any drunk driving seminars and training. DWI is a nuanced area of law with many technicalities and your lawyer should understand them and how they will impact you and your case. Many firms claim to be able to handle these cases, but few attorneys have the knowledge and experience required to successfully challenge the state’s allegations in these matters and secure a positive outcome that you need.

If this is the kind of skilled legal representation you want for your DWI case, then we invite you to contact The Lampin Law Firm today. Our dedicated St. Charles Missouri DWI defense lawyers are committed to helping those charged with alcohol-related driving offenses navigate the process and secure the results that they need.

10 Things To Know If You Are Pulled Over After Having a Few Drinks

One of the most frequent questions that we are asked is “what should I do if I am pulled over and I have been drinking?” Our advice is always to never drink and drive but we acknowledge that sometimes people make mistakes. Also, it is not illegal to have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at the game and later drive a vehicle.

While it is always cheaper to take a cab or an Uber, it is important to understand that innocent people are sometimes charged with DWI. So are guilty people. Regardless, everyone should know their rights if they find themselves pulled over after drinking alcohol.

  1. When you see the police officer’s emergency lights you should immediately turn on your blinker and pull over to the right hand side of the road. Put your car in park and wait for the officer to approach you.
  2. Have your license, proof of insurance, and proof of registration ready to present to the police officer. If you have difficulty locating these items or have trouble handing them to the officer, this may be used later as proof of intoxication.
  3. Be polite. Being rude to the officer will only make things worse and being argumentative or combative is often noted as a sign of intoxication.
  4. If the officer asks if you have been drinking, politely inform the officer that you prefer not to answer any questions without your attorney being present. The majority of our clients admitted to the officer that they had consumed at least 2 alcoholic beverages. Police officers will often use this admission to drinking as a basis for probable cause to continue with their DWI investigation such as asking you to perform field sobriety tests and/or to take a breath test.
  5. If you are asked to exit your vehicle, try to avoid using the door or the side of the car to balance yourself.
  6. There are 2 types of breath tests. One is known as a portable breath test (PBT). A PBT is just what it sounds like. It is a handheld breath testing device that an officer carries with them as opposed to a traditional breathalyzer that is typically located at the police station. Oftentimes an officer will ask you to take a PBT at the scene. THIS TEST IS VOLUNTARY. Missouri courts have held that PBTs are unreliable and that the exact BAC result cannot be admitted as evidence. The result, however, can be used in a DUI trial to show whether or not you tested positive for alcohol. If you are asked to submit to take a PBT and you have been drinking, you should confirm with the officer that the test is in fact voluntary and then politely refuse.
  7. You do not have to take field sobriety tests. As part of a DWI investigation you will probably be asked to perform a number of field sobriety tests. Examples of these tests are being asked to walk an imaginary line, stand on one leg, or recite a portion of the alphabet. You do not have to perform these tests. Remember, all of these things can later be used as evidence of your intoxication. If you are asked to take a field sobriety test it might be a good idea to politely refuse to take these tests and tell the officer that you need to speak with an attorney first.
  8. If you are arrested for DWI/DUI, the police officer will want you to submit to a breath or blood test. Before doing so, the officer is required to read you Missouri Implied Consent warnings which inform you of refusing to submit to a test of your breath or blood for alcohol. What the officer is not required to tell you is that you are entitled to 20 minutes to contact an attorney. Make sure that you ask 20 minutes to contact a DWI attorney! Also, be careful that the telephone line you use to contact your attorney is not being recorded by the police. If there is a sign posted by the phone stating that the call is being recorded, be sure to tell your lawyer.
  9. Should you blow? The answer is that it depends. If you haven’t had anything to drink or have had very little, then you will probably want to take the test. If you have had too much to drink then you really need to use the aforementioned 20 minutes to contact an attorney because the consequences of refusing can vary dramatically based on the location where you are arrested and the facts surrounding the arrest.
  10. If you are ultimately arrested for DWI there are a number of strict deadlines that immediately arise. For example, you may have as few as 15 days to stay the suspension of your driver’s license. Therefore, it is important to contact an experienced Missouri DWI lawyer who can explain your rights and who understands this complex area of law.

The experienced DWI lawyers at The Lampin Law Firm have over 150 years of combined legal experience and have helped thousands of people who are facing DWI/DUI charges in St. Charles, St. Louis, and throughout the state of Missouri. If you or a loved one has been arrested for DWI, or any crime, contact us today at (636) 229-9999 to arrange a free consultation.

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