The Court of Appeals in a recent decision held that where a driver remained silent when asked whether she would submit to a blood alcohol test during a DWI stop, she had refused the stop and her license should be suspended for one year. Had she asked for a chance to contact a lawyer, she might have had a different result. The court remarked in a footnote that:
The right to contact an attorney is triggered only if the driver specifically requests to talk to his lawyer.
So, you have a right to remain silent, except sometimes you don’t, but even some of those times, you can still ask for a lawyer. It’s always safe to ask for a chance to talk to your lawyer and sometimes extra rights are triggered when you do.
What should I expect will happen to my driving privilege after I get my first DWI?
The ignition interlock can mean the difference between keeping your job and being unemployed.
Assuming you submitted to the breath test and there was no refusal (which may or may not be a good idea):
You’ve got two choices: 1) 30 day suspension followed by 60 day restricted driving privilege, or 2) take an immediate restricted driving privilege with ignition interlock device installed. You must request the immediate restricted driving privilege and submit proof of installation of the ignition interlock device. More information is here.
What if I am later convicted of the DWI? If I get 8 points on my license, don’t I get a suspension anyhow? I called the office of the General Counsel for the Department of Revenue about this very issue. The way they explained it: Yes, you get your 8-point suspension but if you already served your 90 day restricted driving privilege, you get credit for that time. In effect, you are not denied any additional time driving – at least not for this incident.
Several factors can complicate this scheme. Minors in possession, those with prior DWIs (even out of state), prior suspensions, CDL holders, DWIs resulting in accidents or injury, etc., should expect different outcomes.
If you have a Missouri driver license suspension, revocation or denial other than a 5 or 10 year denial and you need to drive for work or other important reasons, you may be eligible for a limited driving privilege (LDP).
There are two routes to an LDP: 1) File Form 4595 with the Missouri Department of Revenue or 2) File a Petition with the courts. You can file the form yourself. If that doesn’t work out you can hire a lawyer to ask the court to take a second look at it. There may be a strict time limitation to do so, so you should involve a lawyer early on if you can.