Cases alleging drunk driving are among the most frequent that go before Missouri’s criminal courts. They are also among the most common reasons that police officers make arrests. Despite these facts, many people do not understand how the law defines drunk driving.
Missouri uses a number of statutes to define OUI. As a result, it is understandable to ask what are the elements of OUI in Missouri. Properly understanding these elements is a crucial part of any defense against drunk or impaired driving. The team at Wegmann Law Firm is ready to explain these elements and how they interact with a person’s OUI case.
Missouri’s Core Definition of OUI
The central law that defines the concept of drunk driving in Missouri is Missouri Revised Statute § 577.010. This statute simply says that a person commits an offense when they operate a vehicle in an intoxicated condition. Naturally, people wonder what the law means when it uses the term “intoxicated condition.”
Thankfully, MO Rev. Stat. § 577.001 (13) defines “intoxicated condition” as being under the influence of a drug, alcohol, or a combination of both. This means that a person may face arrest for drunk driving in Missouri after allegedly using alcohol or any kind of drug that impairs their ability to properly control their vehicle.
When Does the Consumption of Alcohol Impair a Person’s Driving Ability?
Alcohol impacts every person differently. While one person may be able to consume alcoholic beverages with little or no impact, others may quickly feel the effects of alcohol after one drink. Because of this idea, Missouri law uses scientific measurements to determine if a person is in violation of the state’s OUI laws.
Under MO Rev. Stat. § 577.012, a person automatically commits a DUI offense if they have a blood/alcohol level of .08 percent or more. Police officers may attempt to measure a person’s blood/alcohol level through blood, urine, saliva, or breath tests.
Other cases rely on a police officer’s observation of the driver. This may include alleged:
- Swerving on the road
- Glassy eyes
- The smell of alcohol
- Slurred speech
It is important to know that an arrest and criminal case can occur based on either blood/alcohol content, an officer’s observations, or both. The team at Wegmann Law Firm is ready to provide more information about the elements of OUI in Missouri.
The Concept of “Operation”
While most defenses to OUI cases in Missouri revolve around a person’s supposed blood/alcohol level, others attack the other key element in OUI cases. This is the requirement that a person facing arrest was “operating” the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Some drunk driving cases occur after police officers observe what they believe to be an intoxicated person behind the wheel of a stopped vehicle. In these situations, it is important to carefully examine what a person was doing at the time of the arrest.
According to MO Rev. Stat. § 577.001 (9), a person operates a vehicle when they are physically driving or operating the vehicle. This means that a person who is simply sitting behind the wheel may be able to argue that they were not operating the car or truck. Factors such as whether a police officer witnessed the vehicle in motion or whether the keys were in the ignition are key parts of these OUI cases.
Contact Wegmann Law Firm Today if You Were Charged With a OUI in Missouri
The team at Wegmann Law Firm can provide further information about the elements of OUI in Missouri. We can then examine the facts in a case to determine the best defense against specific allegations. Contact our Hillsboro office at (636) 797-2665 or use our online form to get in touch with us and set up your case consultation today.