How to Avoid a Marijuana Conviction

Here are a few handy tips for avoiding marijuana or drug paraphernalia charges:

  • Don’t carry marijuana or drug paraphernalia in your car or in your pocket.
  • Don’t take marijuana or drug paraphernalia with you when you travel.
  • If you smoke marijuana at home, take a shower and change clothes before leaving home. If a cop pulls you over and smells weed on you, that gives him probable cause to search your vehicle.
  • Don’t smoke in a parked car at night with your friends. When police ask you to roll down the car window and marijuana smoke billows out (remember that scene in the Cheech & Chong movie?), it gives police probable cause to search your vehicle – without a warrant and without your consent.
  • Don’t smoke weed while sitting in your car in the parking lot at the Verizon Center in Maryland Heights before attending a concert. This is pretty specific, but it applies to any parking lot at any concert venue. Lots of plain clothes police officers patrol parking lots outside concerts.
  • If you’re high or feeling buzzed, don’t drive. You’re a danger to yourself and others on the road, and you risk being charged with DUID (driving while under the influence of drugs).

All Passengers in the Car May be Charged with Possession of Marijuana

When a police officer finds a marijuana blunt in the console of your car, a one-hitter hidden under the seat, or a small baggie of weed in your car, you and all the passengers in your car may be issued tickets for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. This may happen even if one hero tries to accept sole responsibility for the drugs.

The reason for this is something called “constructive possession.” The court presumes everyone in the car knew the drugs were there and everyone had access to the drugs, so everyone was in “constructive possession” of the drugs or paraphernalia.

What is the Penalty for Marijuana Possession in Missouri?

The maximum sentence you can receive in Missouri for misdemeanor possession of marijuana (35 grams or less) or possession of drug paraphernalia is a fine of $1,000 and 1 year in jail.

You Can Lose Your Driver’s License if Caught with Marijuana in Your Car

If you are under age 21 and you get caught with marijuana in your car, you can be charged under Missouri’s “Abuse & Lose” law. If you plead guilty or are convicted under “Abuse & Lose,” your driver’s license will be suspended for anywhere from 30 days to 1 year. The length of the suspension depends on whether your case is being prosecuted in municipal court or state circuit court, and it also depends on whether or not this is your first offense.

Drug-Related Convictions Can Not be Expunged From Your Criminal Record

What’s worse than being fined or thrown in jail is that a conviction for possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia stays on your criminal record forever and can never be “expunged” (removed). With a drug-related conviction on your permanent criminal record, you will have a very hard time finding a job, renting an apartment, or getting a bank loan or federal student aid loan.

An Attorney Can Help You Avoid a Marijuana Possession Conviction

In most cases, an experienced marijuana possession attorney can help you avoid a conviction for possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia. The outcome depends on the following:

  • Which court your case is being prosecuted in. (Not all courts handle drug cases the same way.)
  • Your age & criminal history. (Do you have prior drug-related convictions?)
  • The details of your particular case. (Were you cooperative with the police?)

Often, an experienced attorney can negotiate a plea bargain with the court so that your drug possession charge is dismissed or amended to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.” If your attorney is able to obtain this type of plea bargain deal, you may not have to appear in court at all.


If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri and would like a free consultation with a drug possession lawyer, call St. Louis attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email Andrea at [email protected] to discuss your case and receive a price quote for legal representation.

New Law Reduces Penalties for Marijuana Possession

First-time possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana will be reduced from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D misdemeanor in Missouri as of January 1, 2017.

This means the maximum penalty for first-time possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana will be reduced to a fine of $500 and no jail time.

No Change in Punishment for Marijuana Possession if You Have Prior Convictions

If you have a prior drug-related conviction on your criminal record, possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana will still be considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Possession of 11 to 35 Grams of Marijuana Will Still be Considered a Class A Misdemeanor 

Currently, possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor in Missouri. Under the new law, possession of 11 to 35 grams of marijuana will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, with a potential penalty of 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Drug Paraphernalia Possession Penalties Will be Reduced 

The new law will reduce first-time possession of drug paraphernalia to a Class D misdemeanor. If you have any prior drug-related convictions on your criminal record, an offense of drug paraphernalia possession will be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. (Currently, drug paraphernalia possession is a Class D felony if you have prior convictions.)

To read more about the new Missouri laws taking effect on January 1, 2017, click here to read the unofficial text of Senate Bill 491. The section relating to possession of a controlled substance is §579.015.

For more information about drug possession charges in Missouri, click here to read my previous blog post about how to fight a marijuana possession charge.


If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri, call St. Louis marijuana attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation and price quote for legal representation. Or email Andrea at [email protected] or at [email protected]

Fighting Marijuana Possession Charges

A lawyer can help get your marijuana possession charge reduced.

Cases involving possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia are not handled in the same way in every court. Some judges are stricter than others in their sentencing.

In many courts, if you have been charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and you have no prior convictions for drug-related offenses, an attorney can negotiate a plea bargain with the court to have the drug possession charge reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.” Depending on which court your case is being prosecuted in, you might not have to appear in court at all, but you will have to pay a fine and court costs.

When deciding whether to reduce your drug charges, the court will consider many factors, such as your age, criminal history, and the details of your case.

Some Courts Will Not Reduce Marijuana Charges

In some courts, it is not possible to negotiate a plea bargain for a drug possession or paraphernalia charge, even if you’re caught with only a small amount of weed, your record is clean, and you have no prior drug convictions. If your case is being prosecuted in a court with a very strict drug possession policy, it is very likely that the best plea-bargain deal your attorney can negotiate for you is an SIS (Suspended Imposition of Sentence) with probation.

What is an SIS for Drug Possession?

If you are offered a plea bargain deal called an SIS with probation, you will have to appear in court with your attorney to plead guilty to the original drug possession charges. You won’t have to pay a fine but you will have to pay court costs and sign up for probation. If you successfully complete the probation period without any violations, your case will be closed and no conviction will be reported on your criminal record.

The probation period is typically 1-2 years, depending on the court, and it is usually unsupervised (“limited”) probation. You may also be required to perform several hours of community service and/or attend a drug education class.

How to Decide Whether to Fight a Drug Possession Case

Instead of hiring an attorney to negotiate a plea-bargain deal for your drug possession charges, some defendants choose to go to trial.

Before deciding to fight your drug charges in court, consult an attorney to determine your chances of winning. It will cost much more to have a court trial than to negotiate a plea bargain, and there is always the possibility that you will lose.

It may be worth it if you can afford the expense of a trial, and if there is strong evidence that the search of your car or home that led to the discovery of the drugs or paraphernalia was an illegal search. However, if you go to trial and lose, you will no longer have the opportunity to negotiate a plea bargain deal, and the judge will sentence you to jail time and/or a fine.

Marijuana Possession Penalties in Missouri

The maximum sentence for misdemeanor possession of marijuana (35 grams or less) or drug paraphernalia in Missouri is 1 year in jail and a fine of $1,000.


If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri and would like a free consultation with a drug possession lawyer, call St. Louis attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email Andrea at [email protected] to discuss your case and receive a price quote for legal representation.

Can Police Search Your Car?

A police search of your car is legal if 1) you give consent, 2) the police have probable cause to search your car, 3) the search occurs immediately after you have been arrested for a traffic violation (and other conditions exist), or 4) the search is conducted during an inventory of your vehicle after police impound it.

If police performed an illegal car search during a traffic stop and charge you with a crime, any evidence found during the search can’t be used against you in court.

“Reasonable Suspicion” is Required Before Police Can Pull You Over for a Traffic Stop

A police officer can’t pull you over for a traffic stop unless he has “reasonable suspicion” that illegal activity has occurred or is occurring. Reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop can be something as simple as a broken taillight, speeding, or any other type of traffic violation.

If the police officer scans your license plate and sees that you have a warrant, expired registration, or a suspended license, those all qualify as reasonable suspicion for the police officer to pull you over.

A Police Officer Needs “Probable Cause” to Search Your Car Without a Warrant

If a police officer has reasonable suspicion to pull you over for a traffic stop, he can search the passenger compartment of your car without your consent, and without a warrant, if he has “probable cause” to believe that the vehicle contains contraband or other evidence of a crime.

The “probable cause” requirement can be satisfied in various ways:  the police officer might smell marijuana, he might observe that the driver is behaving in a nervous or suspicious manner, or the police officer could see a bag of weed or a joint sitting in plain view in the car.

There is an “Automobile Exception” to the 4th Amendment Protection Against Unreasonable Searches

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by requiring police to have a warrant to arrest someone in their own home, unless they believe evidence of a crime is about to be destroyed or the police officer is in “hot pursuit” of a fleeing felon. Police officers must also have a warrant to search the premises of a third party for a suspect.

There are several exceptions to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement, including the “automobile exception,” which allows a police officer to search your car without a warrant in certain situations.

When Can Police Search Your Car?

Here are some situations in which a police officer can legally search your vehicle:

1) The police officer has a warrant to search your vehicle. (A police officer can’t obtain a search warrant unless he convinces a judge that he has probable cause for the search.)

2) You consent to the search.

3) The police officer smells marijuana when you roll down your car window, thus giving him probable cause to search your car without a warrant.

4) You are arrested during a traffic stop, which gives the police the right to conduct a “search incident to arrest” if certain conditions exist. (The search is limited to the area immediately surrounding the person where he might grab a weapon, escape, or destroy or hide evidence.)

5) The cop sees a bag of marijuana or a joint in plain view in your car, which gives him probable cause to search.

6) As a result of a traffic stop, the police decide to tow your vehicle to the impound lot, which gives the police the opportunity to conduct an inventory of your car.

7) The police bring a drug-sniffing dog who “alerts” to something in the passenger compartment or trunk of your car, which gives the police probable cause to search.

If you are the subject of any of the legal searches listed above and drugs are found in your car, those drugs are admissible evidence that can be used against you in court.

You Can Refuse to Let Police Search Your Car

The police will never tell you this, but you have the right to refuse to consent to a search of your vehicle. When the police officer asks if he can search your car, calmly reply, “No, I do not consent to a search. Am I free to leave?”

If you refuse to give consent to a search of your car, the police can go ahead and search your vehicle anyway, but only if they have probable cause to search, if it’s a search incident to arrest, if they are conducting an inventory of your car after impounding it, or if they obtain a search warrant.

Please note:  You can refuse to consent to the search, but you do not have the right to physically resist the police officers when they search your car.

Drugs Found as a Result of an Illegal Search Can’t be Used Against You at Trial

In situations where the police officer has conducted an illegal search of your vehicle, any drugs discovered as a result of the search are not admissible as evidence at trial. You will need to hire a criminal defense attorney to investigate whether the search was illegal and, if it was, your attorney can keep this evidence from being used against you in court.

An Attorney May be Able to Get Your Drug Charges Reduced to a Lesser Offense

If the search was legal, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea-bargain with the court to get the charges reduced to a lesser offense and keep the drug conviction off your criminal record. The outcome will depend on which court your case is being prosecuted in, your criminal history, and the details of your case.


If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, call St. Louis attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 to discuss your case and get a price quote for legal representation, or email Andrea at [email protected]

Marijuana Penalties Reduced in St. Louis City

Possession of marijuana in St. Louis City will soon be considered a municipal ordinance violation, rather than a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. This means possession of a small amount of marijuana in St. Louis City will be treated less like a serious crime and more like a traffic ticket.

How Much is a “Small Amount” of Marijuana?

The new law does not specify how much a “small amount” of marijuana is. For now, that will be left up to the police officer to decide, until the police department issues a policy regarding the exact amount.

New Marijuana Law Goes Into Effect June 2013 in St. Louis City

On April 15, 2013, the Board of Alderman approved the proposed bill to make possession of a small amount of marijuana a municipal violation, and Mayor Slay has stated that he will approve it. The new law will go into effect June 1, 2013. Click here to read St. Louis City’s new marijuana law.

Columbia, MO has had a similar law regarding marijuana possession since 2004. Springfield, MO also approved the same type of law in 2012 but repealed it less than a month later.

Pot-Smokers Can Now be Charged Under More Lenient Municipal Ordinance

Currently St. Louis City does not have a local law prohibiting marijuana possession. Therefore, police have no choice but to charge offenders with a violation of the state law prohibiting possession of marijuana, rather than a violation of a municipal ordinance.

The prosecution of a state violation of marijuana possession is handled by the Circuit Attorney in state court, and the potential sentence is much more serious than if the defendant had been charged with a city ordinance violation in municipal court for the same offense.

In Missouri state court, misdemeanor possession of marijuana (35 grams or less) is a crime punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. In municipal court, the maximum penalty for the same amount of marijuana is 90 days in jail and a fine of $500.

Police Can Begin Issuing Tickets For Possession of Marijuana in June 2013

In the past when a police officer caught someone with a small amount of marijuana in St. Louis City, the officer frequently would let the person go free, rather than charging them under the more harsh state law. When the new law takes effect in June, police officers will be allowed to issue tickets to pot-smokers for municipal ordinance violations instead of state violations, and no arrest will be necessary.

Convictions For Possession of Marijuana Stay on Criminal Record Forever

If convicted of marijuana possession in state court or municipal court, you will have a drug conviction on your permanent criminal record. That conviction can never be expunged (removed) from your criminal record, and it can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, obtaining a loan, being accepted into college, or getting a federal student loan.

For more information about St. Louis marijuana laws, or for a price quote for legal representation if you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, call St. Louis attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059, or email Andrea at [email protected]

Missouri Marijuana Possession Laws

The maximum penalty for misdemeanor possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri is 1 year in jail and a fine of $2,000.

Drug convictions remain on your permanent criminal record forever and can never be expunged (removed). Having a drug conviction on your record can prevent you from getting a job, renting an apartment, obtaining a loan from a bank, being accepted into college, or receiving federal student loans.

How Much Marijuana Qualifies as a Misdemeanor?

Possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana (weed, pot) is considered a class A misdemeanor in Missouri. (28.35 grams = 1 ounce) Possession of any type of drug paraphernalia (pipe, bong, rolling papers, syringes, needles, etc.) is a class A misdemeanor, as well.

If convicted, the maximum sentence for misdemeanor possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia is 1 year in jail and a fine of $2,000.

If you are a first-time offender caught with drug paraphernalia or 10 grams or less of marijuana, the maximum penalty is a fine of $500 but no jail time.

How Much Marijuana Qualifies as a Felony in Missouri?  

Possession of more than 35 grams to 30 kg of marijuana is felony drug possession in Missouri. The potential sentence is 7 years in prison plus a fine of $10,000.

How Much Prison Time Can You Get for Drug Paraphernalia Possession?

Possession of drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor in Missouri, punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. If you are a first-time offender, the maximum penalty for possession of drug paraphernalia is a $500 fine but no jail time.

Manufacturing Drug Paraphernalia is a Felony

Manufacturing drug paraphernalia for commercial purposes is a felony with a maximum sentence of 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Any Amount Over 30 kg Qualifies as Drug Trafficking  

To qualify as “drug trafficking,” you must be charged with possession of any amount of drugs over 30 kg. Possession of 30 kg to 100 kg is a felony with a potential sentence of 3-10 years in prison plus a fine of $10,000. The penalty for possession of 100 kg or more is 5-15 years in prison and a fine equal to twice the profit.

Penalties for Growing Marijuana in Missouri

Growing 35 grams or less of marijuana is a felony in Missouri. The potential penalty is up to 4 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

The penalty for growing more than 35 grams of marijuana in Missouri is 3-10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Higher Penalties for Selling Marijuana Near a School

Any sale of marijuana near a school, park, or public housing increases the penalty to 10 – 30 years, or life in prison and a fine equal to twice the profit.

The maximum penalty for selling 35 grams or less of marijuana to a minor is 5 to 15 years in prison and a fine equal to twice the profit.

Driving While Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)

Driving while under the influence of drugs (DUID) is treated like a DWI/DUI (alcohol). Unlike a DUI for alcohol, you can be charged with DUID if there is any amount of drugs in your system and a police officer observes that your ability to drive is impaired.

Your Driver’s License Can be Suspended for Under-Age Drug Convictions or Refusal to Take Drug Test

Your driver’s license can be suspended if you are convicted of any offense involving the possession or use of drugs and you were under age 21 at the time of the offense. The suspension may be for 90 days for a first offense or 1 year for a subsequent offense.

If a police officer asks you to take a drug test and you refuse, your Missouri driver’s license will be revoked for 1 year.

See my previous blog post for more information about what to do if you are charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri.

Call St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation if you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri. Or email Andrea at [email protected]

Medical Marijuana in Missouri – Not Legal Yet

Medical marijuana is now legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia, but not yet in Missouri.

Where is Medical Marijuana Legal?

A federal law makes it illegal to possess or distribute marijuana in the United States, but some states contradict federal law and permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia all allow the use of medical marijuana to relieve pain, anxiety and nausea in people suffering from such diseases as cancer, glaucoma, AIDs, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. Of those 18 states and the District of Columbia, 12 of them allow dispensaries to sell medical marijuana.

A recent New York Times article about medical marijuana and the federal government’s crackdown on dispensaries in California reports that DEA agents closed over 500 medical marijuana dispensaries in California within the first 7 months of 2012.

Where is Marijuana Legal for Recreational Use?

Colorado and Washington voted on November 6, 2012 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by anyone age 21 or over. In both of these states, you can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use. If you want to grow your own, Colorado limits you to 6 pot plants per person. (Washington does not allow cultivation of marijuana plants.) State-licensed stores in Colorado and Washington can sell cannabis and charge a tax on each sale.

In addition to Colorado and Washington, Oregon also had a proposition on its ballot in November 2012 to allow the recreational use of marijuana, but voters failed to approve it.

States Trend Toward Legalization of Marijuana

It is clear that the trend among the states is toward permitting the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes, even though the federal government opposes its decriminalization:

  • Medical marijuana initiatives were on the ballots in 3 states in the November 2012 national elections. Of those 3 states, Massachusetts voted to allow medical marijuana use, joining 17 other states and the District of Columbia that already allow it.
  • In November 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legally permit the recreational use of pot.
  • A Gallup poll released in October 2010 showed that 46% of Americans favor the legalization of marijuana.
  • The Department of Justice stated in 2009 that medical marijuana would not be a law enforcement priority.
  • Several years ago, California lowered its penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana to be equivalent to a speeding ticket penalty.
  • In Denver, Colorado there are more than 300 medical marijuana dispensaries. According to an article in the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice, Colorado is the state with the largest per capita use of medical marijuana in the United States.

Will Missouri Legalize Marijuana?

A bill was proposed in the House in January 2012 to allow the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries in Missouri and to give seriously ill people the right to grow a small amount of marijuana for their own use, but that bill was not given a hearing and is now considered dead.

Missouri supporters of the legalization of marijuana tried to get a constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot to legalize marijuana in Missouri for medical and recreational use. The group backing the initiative obtained 65,000 signatures from Missouri residents, but failed to obtain the required 150,000 signatures needed by the May 2012 deadline to get the proposed amendment on the 2012 ballot.

Missouri Penalties for Marijuana Possession

A Missouri judge can sentence you to up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine for misdemeanor possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana. Possession of more than 35 grams of marijuana is a Class C felony in Missouri, punishable by up to 7 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

If you are convicted of marijuana possession in Missouri, that conviction will remain on your permanent criminal record forever and it can never be expunged (removed).

A Lawyer Can Help Get Your Missouri Marijuana Possession Charge Reduced

If you are charged with a misdemeanor possession of marijuana (35 grams or less) in Missouri and you don’t have any prior convictions for drug-related offenses on your record, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the court to have the drug possession charge reduced to a lesser offense, such as “Littering.” You will also have to pay a fine and court costs.

Minors (Under Age 18) With Marijuana Possession Charges

If a person under age 18 is charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia (such as a pipe), it is very likely that an attorney can negotiate a plea bargain with the court to get the charges reduced or dismissed, although the defendant might have to serve a period of time on probation, attend a drug education class, and pay a fine, in exchange for having the drug possession charges dismissed.

Drug Possession Charges Stay On Your Criminal Record Forever

Some types of convictions, such as first-time misdemeanor DWI/DUI or MIP (Minor in Possession) can be expunged (removed) from your permanent criminal record under certain circumstances, but convictions for possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia in Missouri will stay on your criminal record forever. Having a drug possession conviction on your criminal record may prevent you from getting a job, obtaining credit at a bank, or being accepted into college.

See my previous blog post for more information about what to do if you are charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri.

Call St. Louis criminal defense attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 for a free consultation if you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia in Missouri. Or email Andrea at [email protected]

[This blog post was updated on December 28, 2012.]

 

Some Drug and Alcohol Convictions Stay on Your Missouri Driving Record Forever

The following drug & alcohol-related convictions stay on your Missouri driving record forever:

    • DUI/DWI (Driving While Intoxicated)
    • DUID (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs)
    • Excessive BAC (Blood Alcohol Content)

Please Note:  It is possible to get a first-time DUI conviction expunged after 10 years of good behavior. (See below for further information regarding expungement of a first-time DUI.)

Types of Convictions That Stay on Your Missouri Driving Record Forever

In a previous blog post about convictions that stay on your driving record forever, I listed the types of convictions that remain permanently on your Missouri driving record. In addition to DUI, DUID, and Excessive BAC, the following convictions stay on your Missouri driving record forever and are not eligible for removal:

    • No Insurance
    • No Driver’s License (state, not municipal)
    • Vehicular Manslaughter
    • Driving While Suspended or Revoked
    • Leaving the Scene of an Accident (state, not municipal)
    • Any Felony

What is Expungement?

Expungement is the removal or deletion of all court records of your arrest, plea, trial or conviction. The only types of alcohol-related convictions that are eligible for expungement in Missouri are first-time DUI or MIP convictions. The option of expungement is not available for felony DUIs or for anyone convicted of driving a commercial motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

How to Get a First-Time DUI Conviction Expunged

Missouri law allows anyone who pleaded guilty to, or was convicted of, a first-time misdemeanor DUI to apply to have the court expunge (remove or delete) the DUI charge 10 years after the offense occurred, as long as the individual has had no other alcohol-related driving convictions, “alcohol-related enforcement contacts,” or any pending “alcohol-related enforcement actions” within the 10-year period since the conviction. See Missouri statute RSMo 302.525.3 for an explanation of what is an alcohol-related law enforcement contact.

If a judge finds that you meet these requirements, then the court will enter an order of expungement, and all records of your DUI arrest, plea, trial, or conviction will be deleted.

How to Get an MIP Conviction Expunged

For a first-time MIP conviction to be expunged, you must show that you have had no other alcohol-related convictions or “alcohol-related enforcement contacts” since the original MIP conviction, and that you are applying for expungement at least 1 year after the original conviction date, or after you have reached age 21.

Marijuana and Drug Paraphernalia Convictions Stay on Your Criminal Record Forever and Can Not be Expunged

If a police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop and charges you with possession of drugs (marijuana) or drug paraphernalia (such as a pipe) and you are convicted of those charges, no points will be added to your Missouri driving record for that conviction. However, a conviction for possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia will remain on your criminal record forever.

An Attorney May be Able to Get Your Drug Possession Charges Reduced to a Lesser Offense

When facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, you can hire an attorney to negotiate a plea bargain with the court to get your drug charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense, so they won’t show up on your permanent criminal record. Keep in mind that your chances of success are not as good if you have multiple prior drug-related convictions on your record.

The outcome of your case depends on which court your case is being prosecuted in, your criminal history, and the details of your specific case.

While expungement is an option for some first-time DWI or MIP convictions, drug-related convictions can never be expunged from your Missouri criminal record.

The Court May Order You to Attend “ADEP” or “SATOP” Class

If your attorney is able to get your drug possession charges reduced to a lesser offense, you will have to pay a fine and court costs, and you may also be required to take a court-ordered class, such as “ADEP” (Alcohol and Drug Education Program) or “SATOP” (Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program).

Depending on the facts of your case, you may be offered an “SIS” (Suspended Imposition of Sentence) and 1 or 2 years of unsupervised probation. With an “SIS,” no conviction is entered on your permanent record if you successfully complete your period of probation without any further convictions.

If You Have Already Pleaded Guilty to Drug Possession Charges, an Attorney May be Able to Withdraw Your Guilty Plea

If you have already pleaded guilty to drug charges, it may be possible for an attorney to withdraw your guilty plea and negotiate a plea bargain with the court to have your drug charges reduced to a lesser offense.

However, if too much time has passed since your guilty plea, or if you were originally represented by an attorney when you pleaded guilty, the court may not allow the withdrawal. For more information, go to the Withdrawal of Guilty Plea page on my website.


If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or drug paraphernalia and would like a price quote for legal representation, contact St. Louis traffic law attorney Andrea Storey Rogers at (314) 724-5059 or email her at [email protected]

[This post was updated on November 11, 2013.]