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Driving while under the influence in Missouri

Motor vehicle accidents have a profound effect on society as a whole. The loss of life, damage to property and other considerations cost the nation billions of dollars every year. According to the CDC the cost of car accidents per year exceeds $99 billion, which equals about $500 a year per licensed driver. Motor vehicle accidents have a wide range of causes varying from mechanical failure to driver distraction. By far the most notorious cause of accidents are those committed by a driver under the influence of some substance most notably alcohol.

What is considered driving under the influence can vary depending on the circumstances. Most people are aware of the 0.08 percent rule that sets a per se limit that can be used to support a violation of the law. What many people do not know is that they can be ticketed or arrested as a drunk driver even if their blood alcohol limit is under the 0.08 threshold. For underage drivers, a 0.02 percent reading is enough to violate the statute.

In Missouri there are criminal and administrative laws that are applied to those caught driving while under the influence of alcohol. The severity of the punishment depends on the circumstances surrounding the arrest. Many first time offenders are subject to a 90-day suspension of their driving privileges, points on their license, mandatory alcohol education and treatment classes and any criminal penalties imposed by the court. Repeat offenders face ever-increasing penalties for their subsequent violations. Missouri requires that a mandatory ignition interlock device be attached to repeat offenders' cars.

Criminal convictions and other actions can be used, in certain circumstances, to support a case in a civil trial. Often criminal convictions are used to question the credibility of witnesses in the civil trial, which can include the defendant in a case.

Source: Missouri Department of Revenue, "Driving While Intoxicated," accessed on Aug. 31, 2014

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