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DUI (DWI) Legal Process in Missouri

Arraignment:  An arraignment date will be given to the person at the moment at arrest.  Arraignment will usually occur within 30-90 days after arrest.  At this time, the charge is formally brought against and read to the defendant.  The defendant must then enter a plea of “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest.”  It is usually recommended to always enter a plea of not guilty for a DWI/BAC charge.  Unless the defendant enters plea of “guilty” and sentence is given, the date of pre-trial hearing will be set approximately a month after the arraignment.

Pre-trial hearing: A preliminary hearing occurs in Missouri between the prosecuting attorney, defense and judge.  The primary purpose of this meeting is discuses a plea bargain, which is a compromising deal in order to avoid going to try. If no arrangement can be made the judge will recommend the case for trial and set a date.

Suppression Hearing: A suppression hearing can be requested and are used to determine admissibility of evidence in the case.

The Trial: A DWI defendant in the state of Missouri has the right to a trial by jury. The prosecution has the burden of proof in a criminal trial to convince the jury that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  A trial will usually proceed as such:

  • Jury Selection – a person has a constitution right to a trial by jury.  The jury will consist of 12 “peers”
  • Opening Statements- made by both the prosecution and the defendant’s attorney
  • Presentation of the Prosecution’s Case against the Defendant- includes testimony from witnesses, which the defense is allowed to cross-examine
  • Presentation of the Defendant’s Case- includes testimony from witnesses, which the prosecution is allowed to cross-examine
  • Closing Arguments from both sides
  • Jury Deliberations- the jury goes into seclusion and decides the case
  • Jury Verdict

Sentencing: If convicted of a DUI, sentencing may occur immediately upon the rendering of a guilty verdict.  Sentencing for a DUI will vary based on the type of DUI one was convicted of, but may include:

  • Points of driving record
  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Court ordered Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program
  • Suspension of license
  • Probation
  • Ignition interlock device for motor vehicle


Admissible evidence for a DWI/BAC trial includes:

  • Statements from law enforcement officers regarding observational and behavior evidence
  • Reports of Field Sobriety Tests
  • Videotapes of Field Sobriety Tests
  • Notice that person decided to refused to perform a Field Sobriety Test
  • Test results of all breath, blood, saliva and urine tests
  • Videotapes of chemical testing
  • Any eye witness accounts
  • Expert testimony
  • Any self-incriminating statements that defendant may have made to law enforcement officers
  • Police squad car videos
  • Booking room videos

Non-admissible Evidence may include:

  • Field Sobriety Test results that not admissible because the officer did not instruct or perform the tests accurately
  • Field Sobriety Test results that not admissible because the defendant failed to inform officer of physical disability
  • Chemical test inadmissible as person administering them was not licensed medical personal or a person with a valid permit
  • Chemical tests inadmissible due to unsatisfactory techniques, devices, equipment, or methods used to conduct tests

Chemical tests that are inaccurate sure to incorrect calculation of percent by weight of alcohol in the person’s blood at the time the specimen was taken

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