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Understanding Breathalyzer Laws in Missouri

Will I Need an Ignition Interlock?

If you are convicted of a DWI, before your license is reinstated you must have an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle. This is a device that prevents a motorist’s vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected on their breath. First-time offenders typically must have this device installed in their vehicles for a minimum of six months. Although, the duration can be increased if your DWI was connected to a vehicle accident resulting in injury or death. The cost to have an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle can range anywhere from $90 - $150, although there will likely be a monthly monitoring and maintenance fee added on, which is typically in the range of $60 - $80 per month.

What Happens if I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Missouri?

In addition to your driver’s license being temporarily suspended, Missouri has strict laws and penalties in place to ensure motorists comply with a breathalyzer request. Should you blow? The answer is “no” unless you believe you are well under the legal limit.

You may lose your license temporarily, but at least you will have your day in court to contest the charges. Once you receive your notice of revocation, you have 60 days to appeal the decision, at which point you should have an experienced DWI lawyer there to defend you against the charges. If you do nothing, the judge will likely uphold the revocation and your year-long driving suspension will begin immediately. Refusal of a breathalyzer test will become part of your Missouri driving record, and it will be permanently shown on your driving record that you did not submit to a breathalyzer test.

Typically, with a revocation of driving privileges, you will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle for up to 90 days. Once the 90 days have passed, you can ask the court to grant you conditional driving privileges, such as going to work, participating in alcohol- and/or drug-related treatment programs, medical appointments, and to attend educational obligations.

In most instances, the state of Missouri will make you undergo some type of court-approved substance abuse program tailor for traffic offenders, usually referred to as the Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP).

Having a DUI lawyer on your side that knows the ins and outs of the process can be a great help in dealing with your breathalyzer case. But, remember: unless you know you are under the legal limit, you should NOT submit to a breathalyzer test without your attorney present.

What is the Implied Consent Law in Missouri?

As an “implied consent” state, Missouri prosecutors can seek to revoke your driving privileges (your driver’s license) for up to a full year — even if you are acquitted of your DWI charge. “Implied consent” means that by being a motorist on Missouri roadways, you are voluntarily consenting to a breathalyzer-based chemical analysis when asked to do so by a law enforcement official. Of course, you never signed any type of form allowing the police to breathalyze you at any time, therefore this is what the law means by “implied consent.”