Roughly 25% of all fatal accidents in Missouri are caused by intoxicated drivers.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at drunk driving accidents in the Show-Me State, including the legal limits and penalties, as well as how drunk driving accidents may impact personal injury claims.
Missouri's drunk driving laws can be found in Chapter 577 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.
Under Missouri Revised Statute § 577.012, you can be convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI) without any additional evidence if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.08%. This is called a “per se DWI.”
For 2 specific groups of people, the legal alcohol limit is even lower:
You can be charged with a DWI if you operate a vehicle while in an “intoxicated condition.” This is called an “impairment DWI.”
To establish an impairment DWI, the prosecution has to prove the following elements:
Evidence that may be used to support a decision that a person is affected by alcohol or drugs may include:
In State of Missouri v. Robert Meanor, the state argued that the defendant was operating his vehicle in an intoxicated condition even though his BAC was under the legal limit (.02%).
The evidence the state presented to support their argument included the following:
The Missouri Supreme Court agreed with the state, ruling that the driver’s intoxicated condition was “clearly inferable from the circumstantial evidence in the case.”
Missouri’s implied consent law requires anyone who operates a vehicle to submit to a sobriety test if stopped by a law enforcement officer who has reasonable grounds to believe the person has been driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If the person refuses to submit to a test, their license will automatically be suspended for 1 year (even if the charge is later thrown out) and evidence of their refusal can be used against them in a criminal trial.
The penalties for driving under the influence in Missouri depend on whether you’ve previously been convicted of a DWI:
|Missouri drunk driving penalties|
|1st offense||Up to 6 months||Up to $1,000||90-day suspension (possible restricted driving privileges)|
|2nd offense||Up to 1 year||Up to $2,000||1-year suspension (5-year suspension if the 2nd offense is within 5 years of the 1st offense)|
|3rd offense||Up to 4 years||Up to $10,000||10-year suspension|
In addition to the penalties above, points are added to a person’s Missouri driving record for any intoxication-related conviction.
If you suffer property damage or are injured in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, you can file an insurance claim as you would in any other car accident.
You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the intoxicated driver if:
Dram shop laws hold establishments that sell alcohol (restaurants, bars, theaters, etc.) legally responsible for serving intoxicated patrons who later cause an accident.
Missouri’s dram shop law can be found in Missouri Revised Statute § 537.053. The law, which is stricter than the dram shop laws in most states, says that an establishment will be liable for damages caused by an intoxicated patron if it can be proven by clear and convincing evidence that:
The term “visibly intoxicated” means a person who is “inebriated to such an extent that the impairment is shown by significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction.”
The best way to avoid a drunk driving accident is to avoid drunk drivers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) lists these tips for how to spot a car operated by an intoxicated driver: