Criminal Code
6:15 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Nixon Allows Criminal Code Rewrite To Become Law

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Credit Bill Greenblatt | UPI

  Gov. Jay Nixon has allowed a comprehensive rewrite of Missouri's criminal code to become law without his signature.

Nixon says the 645-page bill contains drafting errors that could weaken both DWI laws and laws to combat methamphetamine production.

"For example, Senate Bill 491 would make a drunk driver's refusal to take a breathalyzer or other tests to measure blood alcohol (content level) inadmissible as evidence, unless the driver is under the age of 21," Nixon said. "In addition, criminal penalties for the purchase of large quantities of pseudoephedrine-related products are an important tool in (the) war on meth...Senate Bill 491 would decriminalize this dangerous activity and weaken law enforcement's ability to rid our communities of this insidious drug."

That being said, Nixon said he allowed the bill to become law because his administration reached a compromise with the bill's sponsors. The drafting errors will be corrected in the House version of the bill, HB 1371, which will be taken up in both chambers this week.

"We've got good language now, and we'll move forward and get this done," Nixon said.  "As I said all along, things of this magnitude, before they get my signature, they're going to be right."

On Friday, state Sen. Jolie Justus, D-Kansas City, SB 491's sponsor, told the Missouri Bar that the governor had agreed not to veto the bill if both side could agree on a language fix.

The criminal code rewrite also mandates no jail time for first-time offenders convicted of possessing fewer than 10 grams of marijuana, and it expands the definition of "dangerous felony" to include repeat DWI offenders and first- and second-degree child molestation.

The new law won't take effect until Jan. 1, 2017.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport