The state of Missouri has a special set of laws known as Abuse and Lose which apply to minors who are involved in alcohol and drug-related offenses. These laws are meant to deter underage alcohol-related offenses. In Missouri, the legal drinking age is 21 years old hence minors are prohibited from possessing, purchasing or attempting to purchase any intoxicating liquor. Minors who violate this provision can be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by fines and a potential jail term.
Under the Missouri abuse and lose law, a person under 21 years of age shall have his or her driving privileges suspended or revoked if found guilty of the following:
- Any traffic offense involving alcohol, including possession or use of alcoholic substance while driving.
- Operation of a motor vehicle while in possession or use of alcohol.
- Any offense involving the possession or use of a controlled or illicit substance.
- Any offense involving altering, modifying or misinterpreting a government issued driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle.
- A second offense involving the possession or use of alcohol by someone under 18 years of age.
The police can establish whether or not a minor is intoxicated if he or she exhibits visible signs of intoxication, or has a blood alcohol content level of more than .02%.
The period of license suspension or revocation will depend on whether the offense has been committed for the first time or is it a subsequent offense. A person found guilty of any of these offenses for the first time will have his or her driver’s license suspended for 90 days. A subsequent offender shall have his or her license suspended for a period of one year. The courts shall require a person found guilty to surrender any license to operate a motor vehicle immediately.
Driver’s license reinstatement
Since Missouri takes underage drinking seriously, the courts impose strict requirements for reinstatement of a driver’s license that has been suspended or revoked under the abuse and lose law. In order to get a suspended or revoked driver’s license back, a person must pay a license reinstatement fee of $45 and successfully complete a Substance Abuse Traffic Offender program or a similar rehabilitative program. The person must also provide an SR-22 form as proof of insurance. Subsequent abuse and lose offenders involved in drunk driving with a BAC level exceeding .02% will be required to install an ignition interlock device on the vehicle they intend to drive. Only persons whose license is revoked for one year will be required to complete a driver examination to get their license back. During the period of suspension or revocation, a person can obtain a limited driver’s license for traveling to certain places.
For a person under 21 years of age, any violation of the provisions of the Missouri abuse and lose law could mean a criminal record. In fact, an abuse and lose action appears on a person’s criminal record and can only be removed after five years from the date of reinstatement. In order to have an abuse and lose action removed from your driver record, you must submit a written request to the Driver Bureau requesting for the removal of the action from the Missouri driver record. Having a criminal record as a minor can impact your life severely in terms of getting a job, obtaining loans or getting admission in leaning institutions.
An abuse and lose action in Missouri comes with the loss of driving privileges and possible criminal penalties. If your driver’s license has been suspended or revoked under the Missouri abuse and lose law, it’s a good idea to consult with a qualified DWI attorney who will mount an aggressive defense and ensure your rights are protected.