Missouri Governor Blunt Strengthens Drunk Driving Laws
Tue, 07/03/2007 - 10:16 — admin
Closes Blood Sample Loophole
July 2, 2007 -- JEFFERSON CITY– Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed legislation closing a loophole in the law that has allowed some who have been arrested for drunk driving to avoid prosecution on a technicality. House Bill 574 will allow the current process for drawing blood to test blood alcohol levels to continue, but defense attorneys and drunk drivers will no longer be able to have the results thrown out because of the miniscule amount of alcohol used in the swabs to cleanse the skin before drawing the blood.
"This legislation ensures those guilty of driving while intoxicated will not be able to escape conviction merely because our guidelines on testing alcohol levels were too explicit," Gov. Blunt said. "I am dedicated to strengthening our drunk driving laws to help ensure that Missouri families are safe when traveling. This new law has the solid backing of our law enforcement men and women who help keep drunk drivers off our roads."
A provision in House Bill 574, sponsored by Representative Neal St. Onge, closes a judicial interpretation in the current DWI law by removing specific guidelines that involve using a nonalcoholic antiseptic swab for cleansing the skin prior to drawing blood to determine a driver's alcohol level. The provision contains an emergency clause. Accepted medical practices for obtaining blood samples will now be the statutory standard for this procedure.
"I appreciate Gov. Blunt and the General Assembly taking quick action in addressing this loophole," said Colonel James Keathley, Superintendent of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. "As troopers, one of our top priorities is removing impaired drivers from our roadways and aiding in the conviction of those who put our citizens in danger."
In addition, the bill requires courts to forward alcohol or drug related driving offense dispositions to the Department of Revenue within seven days and requires the department to forward that information to the State Highway Patrol within 15 days. This will assure that those convicted of an alcohol related driving offense and any administrative sanction is implemented in a timely manner and properly documented on the convicted person's record. This addressed an issue of current statutes providing conflicting guidance to our courts, Department of Revenue and the State Highway Patrol.
The governor's action today continues his strong stance against alcohol offenders. In 2005 the governor signed legislation creating two new classes for repeat DWI offenders, aggravated and chronic, that both carry increased penalties. Blunt also signed legislation that strengthens Missouri's laws against underage drinking by changing penalties to address both the possession and consumption of alcohol by minors. In Missouri a minor could be found guilty of a "minor in possession" if he or she is visibly intoxicated or has a blood alcohol content of more than .02. State law also prohibits adults from allowing minors to drink on their private property unless they are the minor's legal guardians and requires school districts to create a policy detailing the consequences if a student is found to either possess or drink alcohol on school property or at school events.
Source: Missouri Governor