Glossary of Legal Terms in Missouri DWI Cases

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Unless you’ve had previous experience with the legal system or if this isn’t your first DWI in Springfield, chances are that you are unversed in the lingo that you will start to hear when you are charged with a DWI. From Administrative Per Se to Zero Tolerance, our Springfield DWI lawyer defines the most common terms you’ll hear if you’re facing DWI charges in Missouri. 

For legal advice concerning your case, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consultation with one of our DWI attorneys at DWI Springfield today!

Administrative Per Se

Administrative per se is when a person is arrested with a DWI and has a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher, or if they refuse to submit a blood or breath test, the Department of Motor Vehicles will automatically suspend the driver’s license. These suspensions go into effect about 30 days after the arrest. Administrative per se suspensions can be contested by the defendant. The driver has 10 to 14 days to contact the DMV to request a hearing


When someone is arrested for a DWI, or any criminal charge, the initial court hearing where they are formally advised of the charges they are facing, is called an arraignment. At the arraignment, the defendant (person facing charges) is given the chance to enter a plea.


BAC stands for Blood Alcohol Concentration, which defines the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream by a percentage. In Missouri, if your BAC is .08% or greater you will face DWI charges. This BAC limit is different for operators of commercial motor vehicles, people with CDL licenses, and minors.


BAL stands for both breath alcohol level, or blood alcohol level. Basically, this is just another way for the prosecution to try and prove the defendant’s guilt for a DWI case.


A breathalyzer is a portable machine that is utilized by law enforcement to measure BAC levels.


CDL stands for Commercial Driver’s License. In Missouri, and throughout the United States, people with CDL’s will be charged with a DWI in Missouri if their BAC is 0.04% or higher. Additionally, they will lose their CDL permanently (in most cases).


CMV stands for Commercial Motor Vehicle. These types of vehicles can only be legally operated by people who have a Commercial Driver’s license. 


CT stands for Chemical Test, which refers to a test for alcohol or other substances, such as drugs, in a person’s blood by way of testing blood, urine, or breath.


The most widely known acronym in drunk driving cases, DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. Influence can be related to alcohol, drugs, or other illegal substances, or a combination of these. In Missouri, you will find that DWI is the preferred legal term when discussing a DUI/DWI charge in Missouri. These terms can be used interchangeably and there is no real difference between the two. 


DUID stands for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. Being charged with a DUID in Missouri is much different in terms of how the arrest can happen. For a DUI/DWI charge in Missouri, a BAC of 0.08% must be identified. For a DUID charge, only a trace of illegal drugs can be the cause for a DUID in Missouri. 


Driving While Intoxicated. Just like a DUI, a DWI in Missouri can occur when a person is found to be driving while intoxicated from alcohol, drugs, other illegal substances, or a combination. In Missouri, DWI is the term most used when a person is charged with drinking and driving or operating a vehicle while intoxicated from alcohol and/or drugs. 


Driving While License Suspended for Driving While License Revoked. This charge in Missouri is serious, and if convicted of a DWLS or DWLR in Missouri you can face felony charges! Contact one of our DWI Attorneys in Springfield today, if you are currently facing a DWLS or a DWLR charge. Just like with a DWI charge in Springfield, MO, these types of charges need to be dealt with and fast.


From the American Bar Association, Expungement means to remove or erase completely. This is the process by which a record of a criminal conviction can be destroyed or sealed from the state or federal record. In Missouri, a DWI can be expunged one time in a person’s life. 

Felony Drunk Driving

In Missouri, a felony drunk driving offense occurs when a person has had two prior alcohol-related driving convictions. A felony drunk driving charge can also occur if a person has been charged with a felony DWI in Missouri anytime in their past or if the person was charged with a DWI in an accident where death or injury resulted in actions taken by the person being charged with the DWI.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests or Standardized Field Sobriety Tests consist of three tests given to a person who is expected of driving under the influence by a law enforcement agent. If a person fails all or any of these tests, the results of the test can be used as probable cause to arrest the driver for a DWI in Missouri. The three tests are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) – The police officer will have the driver focus their gaze on a point (usually a pen) while their head remains still. The officer is looking for a smooth motion from the driver in order to pass this test. 
  • Walk-and-Turn (WAT) – The officer will instruct the driver to walk a straight line heel to toe for nine steps and then turn around and take another nine steps.
  • One-Leg Stand (OLS) – The driver must stand with one leg six inches off of the ground with their toe pointed while they count by the thousands for 30 seconds. 


IID stands for Ignition Interlock Device and is a device that tests the driver’s breath before the vehicle will start. The car will not start if the driver has tested positive for alcohol and a report from the Missouri IID company will be sent to the probation officer if alcohol is detected. This is usually a device that is court-ordered as part of a person’s Missouri DWI sentence. 

Implied Consent

In Missouri, once you are issued a driver’s license you are implying consent to submit to a breath or blood test if pulled over and the police officer has probable cause to request a test. If a person refuses to submit a breath or blood test in Missouri, this will result in an automatic license suspension for at least 30 days up to a year. 

License Restoration

Once your driving privileges are restored, from a license suspension or revocation from a DWI in Missouri, you can apply to have your license reinstated. This usually involves paying a fee and showing the correct paperwork that you have fulfilled the term of your license suspension/revocation in Missouri.

License Revocation 

When a person is charged with a DWI in Missouri, they will face both administrative and criminal charges, one of those being the possible consequence of losing driving privileges. When a license is revoked all driving privileges are taken away and cannot be reinstated until approval is granted. Licenses are usually suspended before they are revoked.

License Suspension

Just like license revocation, license suspension is a probable consequence that happens when a person in Missouri is charged with a DWI. License suspension is a temporary suspension of driving privileges and usually lasts anywhere from 30 to 90 days following the criminal charges of the case. 

Per Se

Per Se laws in DWI cases mean that once it has been proven that the driver’s BAC is at or past the legal limit of 0.08%, that, by law, that person is considered intoxicated and no further evidence or test needs to be submitted for an arrest. 

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving or Careless and Imprudent Driving, as it’s defined by the Missouri legal system, is when a person drives erratically, or is careless and does not follow speed limits, stop signs, stop lights, etc. An example of reckless driving in Missouri is if a person drives 20 miles above the posted speed limit, this is an automatic violation of the state’s careless and imprudent driving laws. 

Voir Dire

Voir Dire is the jury selection process. Both the defendant and the prosecutor as well as the judge may question potential jurors to make sure that the jury is fair and impartial. When you are charged with a DWI in Missouri, you have the right to a DWI attorney and a fair jury during your trial. 

Wet Reckless 

The informal name is given to the crime when a person pleads no contest or guilty to a plea agreement for a DWI charge. Wet Reckless is a less serious offense than a DWI, so your Springfield DWI attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce your charges.

Zero Tolerance

Refers to the law that if a minor is caught driving with ANY amount of alcohol or illegal substances in his or her blood, the minor’s license will be immediately suspended and they can face DWI charges in Missouri. 

Knowing these terms may help you to understand DWIs in Missouri a little better, but if you are facing DWI charges of your own, you need professional help. Contact the experienced DWI attorneys in Springfield, MO at DWI Springfield today for a no-cost, no-obligation, consultation to discuss your case.