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Drunk-driving changes stall with session days waning

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo – A bill that would help Missouri courts deal with the high number of cases involving intoxicated drivers is stalled in the state Senate with just four days left in the session.

The measures are a priority of Gov. Jay Nixon, and were prompted by a newspaper investigation that found many individuals with multiple convictions were still driving.

The measures allow circuit courts to create separate courts and dockets to handle DWI cases. Violators could be ordered to get treatment and avoid jail time and fines.

"The Missouri Supreme Court has some very compelling data to show that drug court, DWI court, options where people are able to get treatment, has a tremendous impact on reducing the level of recidivism," said Republican Kurt Schafer, a state Senator from Columbia and the measure's sponsor.

A fellow Republican, Sen. Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau, has delayed the bill.

"My concern is that not every municipality, not every county, will have a DWI court, so you'll be setting up two different types of justice," he said. "I think that raises equal protection concerns."

Lawmakers have until Friday to work out a compromise. Schaefer has already removed the so-called "vampire provision" that would allowed blood to be drawn without a warrant from DWI suspects who refused a Breathalyzer.


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