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Court Process after a DWI Arrest

Call an Experienced St. Louis DWI Lawyer

DWI arrest procedures in St. Louis are based, in part, on recommendations by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Police officers try to gather as much evidence as possible to show your level of impairment while driving. At Millikan Wright, LLC, our experienced DWI attorneys can guide those charged with DWI through both the administrative hearing pertaining to your driving privileges and the DWI court process pertaining to your personal freedom and criminal history. It is important to have an experienced lawyer acting on your behalf in these cases, as we are often able to discover errors related to the prosecution of your case that may be used in your defense. As former police officers and a former prosecuting attorney, we have seen firsthand the mistakes made during the evidence collection and arrest process.


While each police department operates differently, this is a typical DWI arrest procedure in St. Louis:

1. Driving Case

Most police officers will try to establish a "driving case", meaning the officer observed you while driving. Most of the time these driving cases act as the probable cause for making a traffic stop and investigating further. Driving cases may include: speeding , driving too slow, weaving, striking fixed objects or using roadside curbs to guide the vehicle.

2. Observation of Person

The officer will investigate further to see if you have physical indicators to possible intoxication, including slurred speech, watery or blood shot eyes and the order of consumed alcoholic drinks.

3. Field Sobriety Tests

The officer will ask you perform a few roadside field sobriety tests to show physical impairment. Standard tests include the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, The Walk and Turn and The One Leg Stand Test. These tests involve concentration, balance and some basic physical stamina. These tests are voluntary.

4. Portable/Preliminary Breath Test (PBT)

The officer may ask you to blow into a handheld breath test, known as a PBT. This device is not usually carefully calibrated or maintained as well as the larger, official breathalyzer at the police department. This is just another tool to indicate consumption of alcohol.

5. Arrest and Subsequent Search

If the officer believes you are intoxicated or cannot safely operate your vehicle, you will be arrested and taken to the police department for further testing. You and your vehicle will likely be searched subsequent to an arrest.

6. Testing for Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

At the police department you will be tested to determine the blood alcohol content (BAC) in your blood. This is usually done via a breathalyzer breath test, but also include testing via blood and/or urine. Failure to submit to a BAC test will result in loss of your driver's license for a year. A DWI conviction will result in loss of your driver's license for up to 90 days (first offense).

7. Charged with DWI

If you are 21 years old or older and your BAC is 0.08 or higher, you will be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) . If you are under 21 years old and your BAC is 0.02 or higher, you will be charged with DWI.

8. Summons

You will be issued a summons to appear in court to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

9. Arraignment

This is your first appearance in court to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Conditions of your release, amount of bail, or whether you will remain in jail without bail will be determined by the Judge at the arraignment. Hopefully you have retained the services of an experienced Missouri DWI Attorney to represent you.

10. Pre-Trial Conference

11. Suppression Hearing

Motions are made by your attorney to have evidence suppressed from being considered in the criminal DWI case against you.

12. Trial

13. Administrative Hearing

This is the administrative case that occurs separately from the criminal charge. The administrative hearing only deals with the suspension of your driving privileges.

When you have been charged with DWI , you are entitled to an administrative hearing before the Department of Revenue. This is your opportunity to defend yourself against the civil aspects of the DWI charge. At the administrative hearing, a Hearing Officer will make a ruling on whether your driver's license should be suspended, revoked, or if the charges against you should be dismissed.

The decisions made in your administrative hearing relate to that hearing only, and do not apply to any criminal DWI charges against you.

When you have been accused of driving while intoxicated, you need an experienced and aggressive DWI defense attorney on your side. Our firm knows hiring the best possible defense for your case takes time and consideration, and welcome any questions or concerns you may have. We offer free case consultations to speak with you about your case, how the law applies, and why Millikan Wright, LLC is the right choice for you. Let our education and experience make a difference on your behalf!

Hear From Our Previous Clients

"I have used Millikan Wright several times throughout the years, as well as my family, and have never been left unsatisfied. Brian Millikan has helped me through a few things and made the entire process as smooth as possible. I would recommend this firm for any needs that you may have, they are very professional and ..."
-Corrine
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