Blood alcohol concentration, often abbreviated as one’s BAC, is the most commonly used method for measuring the alcohol level of a suspected drunk driver. BAC is written as a percentage of alcohol in the blood. For example, someone with a BAC of 0.10 means that 10% of that person’s blood by volume is alcohol.
In Missouri, most people believe there is only one number which qualifies as drivers as drunk. This is not the case. Instead, there are several different categories of drivers; each with its own level for what qualifies as intoxicated driving.
The first group includes the vast majority of Missouri drivers, those over the age of 21 who do not drive commercial vehicles. This includes ordinary people, moms and dads and young adults out for a drive in their family car. Among this group, a driver is considered legally intoxicated when their blood alcohol level exceeds 0.08. That means, in Missouri you are legally drunk when more than 8% of your blood by volume is alcohol.
The next group of drivers includes those who are above the age of 21 but who drive commercial motor vehicles. Those who operate tractor-trailers, semis, 18-wheelers, and even those who drive schools buses, are held to a different standard of legal intoxication. Drivers of commercial vehicles are deemed legally intoxicated when their blood alcohol concentration is 0.04 or greater.
The final group of drivers includes all those who are under the age of 21. According to Missouri law, those under 21 have no business consuming alcohol in the first place. Given this, the level of intoxication is set much lower than for other groups. Drivers under 21-years-old are deemed drunk when their BAC is 0.02 or greater.
One final number that bears mentioning is 0.15. Recent legislation in Missouri now says that those found to have a BAC greater than 0.15 will face harsher penalties than those who only slightly exceed the state’s legal limit. If a driver operated a motor vehicle with a BAC between 0.15 and 0.20 they are required to complete a DWI Court program or other court ordered treatment program. If they do not complete the program they must spent at least 48 hours in jail. If a driver operated a motor vehicle with a BAC of greater than 0.20 BAC they are required to complete a DWI Court program or other court ordered treatment program. If they do not complete the program they must spend a minimum of 5 days in jail. See Missouri Revised Statute 577.010.
If you are arrested for DWI it is important that you have an aggressive attorney who understands the law so that you can avoid any unnecessary jail time.
If you’ve had a run in with the law and find yourself in need of a Missouri DWI defense lawyer capable of aggressively protecting your interests, contact our St. Louis DWI law firm today at (314) 863-0500.
Source: “Driving While Intoxicated (DWI),” published at DOR.MO.gov.