Underage DWI in St. Louis: What Are the Penalties?

With a zero-tolerance policy in place, an underage DWI in Missouri is often easier to prove than an adult DWI. The conviction can stay on the driver’s permanent record. Juvenile DWI laws in St. Louis are strict. While the punishment for the first offense may not seem substantial, the following penalties could be life-changing. You may need legal assistance if you’ve been charged with DWI in St. Louis. Don’t rush into making decisions about your defense before contacting a criminal defense attorney.

Zero-Tolerance Law in Missouri

If you are under 21, it’s illegal to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over 0.02%. You could hit that BAC with less than one drink depending on your weight. Driving under the influence of illegal substances is punishable regardless of your intoxication level.


The terms DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) are interchangeable in Missouri. Under the law, the preferred term is DWI.

Underage DWI in St. Louis

The penalty’s severity depends on how often an underage driver is charged with a DUI.

First Offense

According to Missouri’s Abuse and Lose Statute 302.400, an underage driver charged with a DWI can face:

  • A 90-day license suspension
  • Jail time of up to six months
  • A fine of up to $1,000

The 90-day license suspension may be replaced by the 90-day restricted driver’s privilege that involves installing an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). Alternatively, you may face a 30-day full suspension and a 60-day restricted driver privilege. Before the reinstatement of their driver’s license, the offender would need to attend a Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP). They would also need to cover the cost of attending SATOP. The severity of the punishment may depend on the consequences of the DWI. In most cases, the judge will go easy on first-time offenders. However, the penalty may be harsher if a DWI leads to injuries or damages. The first offense is usually a Class B misdemeanor. However, it can turn into a Class A misdemeanor if an underage (under 17) passenger is in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

Second Offense

Missouri underage drivers who are charged with DWI for the second time can face harsher penalties:

  • License suspension for one year (or for five years if the previous conviction was within five years of the second offense)
  • IID for at least six months (after the license is reinstated)
  • Jail time for up to one year
  • Fine of up to $2,000

In some cases, the judge may replace a jail sentence with probation involving substance abuse treatment, continuous BAC monitoring, and random drug testing. A second DWI offense is a Class A misdemeanor. However, if it leads to injuries or damages, the offense could become a felony.

Third Offense

The third offense turns a DWI into a Class D felony charge.

The penalties include:

  • Jail time of up to four years
  • Fines of up to $10,000
  • A 10-year license revocation
  • IID for at least six months (after the license is reinstated)

Fourth Offense

If a driver is charged with a DUI for the fourth time, they can be convicted of a Class C felony. A felony conviction stays on the driver’s record permanently.

How to Reduce a DUI Charge in Missouri

Plea bargaining isn’t prohibited in DWI cases. Depending on the severity of your case’s circumstances, your DWI attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal for a lesser charge.

In some cases, it’s possible to reduce the charge or drop it entirely if:

  • The traffic stop was illegal
  • The results of field sobriety tests or blood tests are questionable
  • The breathalyzer wasn’t adequately maintained
  • The police failed to issue all required warnings and notices
  • High BAC levels were due to “mouth alcohol

An experienced criminal attorney can explore all available options and explain the possible outcomes to the underaged driver and their parents. Some of these defenses require the lawyer to conduct an immediate investigation. That’s why you must contact a DWI lawyer as soon as possible.

Get Legal Assistance for Your DWI Charge Today

Underage DWI charges can change your life or your child’s life forever. In many cases, charges can be reduced or dropped altogether. This can prevent the conviction from ruining your record and affecting your ability to lead a normal life in the future. A skilled underage DWI attorney can help conduct an in-depth investigation, explore different lines of defense, and provide professional support throughout the case. Consider contacting a DWI lawyer at Rose Legal Services as soon after the arrest as possible. You can get started today by requesting a free consultation.

Author Bio

Scott Rose, an experienced criminal defense lawyer and founder of Rose Legal Services, has been practicing law for over 20 years. He is dedicated to representing clients facing criminal charges and providing legal representation on various cases, including DWI, misdemeanor, and felony cases.

After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law, he gained valuable experience working for a United States Senator and as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Chief Judge of a United States District Court. Throughout his legal career, W. Scott Rose has committed to providing high-quality legal representation to his clients, earning him a spot in the National Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

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