The first thing you should do after getting a DWI in Missouri is call a lawyer. A good DWI attorney can explain the process to you, answer any questions you have, and hopefully make you feel better about your situation. Every step of a DWI is more straightforward if you have an experienced lawyer by your side who has seen it all hundreds of times and has advice on how to get through it with the least disruption possible. Whether you hire a lawyer or not, here are the things you need to do.
Protect Your License
The Department of Revenue will suspend your license 15 days after you test over a .08 or refuse a breath test. It is possible to fight this suspension or revocation, but it is highly challenging if you are not a lawyer. The process is different depending on whether you failed an alcohol test or refused to take one, but in either case, the DOR will give you a piece of paper that serves as a temporary driving permit. If you do not take steps to protect your license within 15 days, you will not have permission to drive.
If you fail a breath or blood test, the arresting officer will give you form 2385. In the middle of this form is a black box showing that it is your temporary 15-day driving permit. At the bottom is a section that can be filled out to request an Administrative Hearing. It is best to have a lawyer take care of this. These hearings are tough for a lawyer to win, and the chances of a non-lawyer winning are vanishingly small. When the Department of Revenue receives this form, they will mail another temporary driving permit that is valid until the hearing (usually 4-6 weeks).
If you refuse to take a test, the arresting officer will give you form 4323. A black line at the bottom of the document with writing in it shows that it is your temporary 15-day driving permit. There is no section to fill out. To request a hearing, a lawyer must file a Petition for Review. The lawyer must also file a motion with the court to stay the suspension. This stay, if granted, will allow you to drive until the outcome of your hearing is determined. It is difficult for anyone who is not a lawyer to get this paperwork filed correctly. The Department of Revenue will revoke your license for one year on a refusal. If you want to fight this revocation, you need to hire a lawyer.
An experienced attorney can fight to keep your license after a DWI. They will also advise what actions are most beneficial to minimizing time spent without permission to drive. However, you may be spending some time without a driver's license, especially if this is not your first DWI. You should start planning for that eventuality from the start. The sooner and better you prepare, the less impact losing your license will cause. If you hire an attorney immediately after your arrest, you will give yourself much more time. Instead of having the suspension start in 15 days, you will have at least a month and probably much longer.
Pay Attention to Your Court Dates
Do not miss a court date after you have been arrested for DWI. You are already in a rough spot; don't make it worse. Hiring a lawyer can take away the stress of worrying about court dates. If you do not hire a lawyer, be vigilant. Check your mail for notices. Look for new court dates on casenet (do a google search for Missouri casenet - it is the first result). Don't leave a court appearance without knowing what your next steps are.
Look Into SR-22 Insurance
SR-22 is a form that an insurance company can provide to show that you have the minimum liability insurance required by law. You will be required to maintain this form on file with the Department of Revenue for two years after a DWI arrest. The cost can vary wildly, so it pays to shop around. If you currently have reasonable insurance rates from a quality company, you might want to look into a supplementary policy for your SR-22 filing. This might keep your current rates from going up and save you money long-term. The sooner you start exploring options, the higher the likelihood of finding an affordable option.
Putting It All Together
You have a lot to do in a short period after a DWI arrest. It doesn't help that you are probably frustrated and angry. You don't have to face it alone, though. Give attorney Ruth Beerup a call at 636-940-1111. She has been helping people just like you get through the difficulties of a DWI for over 25 years. She will use her experience to skillfully defend your license and freedom so that you can focus on getting your life back on track.