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Nixon signs DWI bill into law

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Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio
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Mo. Gov. Jay Nixon signs the DWI bill into law.

By Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – A bill designed to get drunk drivers off Missouri's roads has been signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon.

Among the new requirements: Drivers with a .15 blood alcohol level will have to spend at least 48 hours in jail, and those with a .20 will be locked up for five days.

Governor Nixon says the new law will also allow for the creation of special courts to handle intoxicated drivers.

"These DWI courts will offer the opportunity for treatment, but they will also send repeat DWI offenders to jail for mandatory time periods if they fail to complete treatment," Nixon said.

Also, anyone with two or more prior DWI incidents must have future cases heard in state courts, where penalties would be harsher.

Phaedra Olsen of Jefferson City was on hand at today's bill signing, which was held at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Acadamy. In 1996, she was severely injured and left a paraplegic in a crash caused by a drunk driver.

"I actually became more angry at the criminal justice system because my offender served 120 days of prison time when I served 124 days in the hospital, and a lifetime sentence to this chair," Olsen said, referring to her wheelchair.

The new law will also require law enforcement, municipal courts and prosecutors to improve reporting of intoxicated driving offenses to a statewide database. And municipal court judges will be required to complete a course on Missouri's DWI statutes.

The new law takes effect August 28th.

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