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How Missouri’s DWI charges work for out-of-state drivers

On Behalf of | Jul 6, 2023 | Dui |

In Missouri, drunk drivers can receive driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges for their traffic offenses. DWIs may sound different from the driving under the influence (DUI) charges other U.S. states use but make no mistake – they both involve fees and jail time and can even result in criminal convictions for the accused driver.

But there’s more to the similarity than just fines and penalties. An out-of-state driver charged with DWI in Missouri will be treated like they were charged for a similar offense in their home state. What exactly does this mean for drivers?

The Driver License Compact

Missouri is a Driver License Compact (DLC) member state. Members of the interstate agreement can exchange information about their drivers’ traffic violations and license suspensions with each other.

If an out-of-state driver gets a DWI in Missouri for the first time, that record follows them back and counts as their home state’s counterpart of the DWI. Likewise, drivers with a prior DUI history in their home state will be considered to have committed a second or subsequent offense if they get a DWI charge in Missouri.

Interstate penalties

Typically, under the DLC, home state laws apply to drivers charged with DUI outside their state. But it works a little differently in Missouri. If an out-of-state driver gets a DWI in Missouri, Missouri law will apply. They will have to face Missouri’s version of fines, jail time and license suspension instead of their home state’s.

This system also extends to ignition interlock device (IID) requirements. A court can order an out-of-state driver with a prior DUI/DWI record from their home state to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle if they get a DWI conviction in Missouri. The state makes IIDs mandatory for second and subsequent DWI offenses. Drivers must also ensure that the IIDs on their vehicles meet both their home state and Missouri’s approvals.

Because out-of-state drivers will have to go through the same DWI process as Missouri drivers, they should consider consulting with a local attorney. Having a legal professional can help contest the charge and negotiate for lighter penalties.