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In Missouri, if you’ve been pulled over for drinking and driving you may not realize that there are other options besides receiving a standard DWI conviction. One such option, assuming it is your first offense, is to try and negotiate a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS).

A SIS is a way of pleading guilty to a charge without having a sentence imposed on you. This means you are admitting guilt to the DUI without being formally convicted. Generally, a SIS is an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor in which the defendant agrees to accept responsibility for the crime, agrees not to violate any laws for up to two years, not to drink alcohol for some period of time (usually one or two years), not to go to establishments that serve alcohol, with the exception of restaurants and some sporting events, and to take random urine samples to insure compliance.

Though everything sounds wonderful, there are some catches. The big caveat to the SIS is that once you negotiate a deal, you agree to a period of probation. If, during that time, you violate any of the terms of your probation then the full sentence can be imposed. If, on the other hand, you successfully complete your probation, the sentence will never be imposed and you will have no points placed on your driving record and you will not have a conviction on your record for employment purposes.

Those who plead guilty and negotiate a SIS typically have special conditions of probation such as taking the Substance Abuse Traffic Offender’s Program (SATOP), attending a victim impact panel, engaging in community service, and paying the cost of overtime for your arrest to the police department.

It’s important to note that a SIS is considered a prior alcohol plea in the event that the person receives a second DWI within 5 years of the original offense. That means, rather than receive punishments as if it were your first conviction; you will receive elevated penalties as if your original SIS were a first DWI conviction. A SIS will typically be denied to anyone who had a prior conviction or diversion on their record as well as anyone who is found to have over 0.20 BAC when they are arrested.

It is important to understand that there are many advantages to an SIS plea in the State of Missouri and there are also some potential serious consequences. Any person who is considering entering a plea of guilty to a DWI should consult with an experienced attorney who can explain all of the potential ramifications of a DWI plea and the effect it will have on their driver’s license and employment status.

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: “Strengthening Missouri’s DWI Laws,” published at DOR.MO.gov.

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