Starting at the end of this month, Missouri law will change to make the laws against drunk driving even stricter. A DWI enforcement campaign will coincide with the new laws going into effect.
Jackie Rogers with MODOT’s Highway Safety Division says this year’s “You Drink and Drive, You Lose” campaign will run from August 20th to September 6th statewide.
“We’ll have both what we call ‘saturation patrols,’ or enforcement patrols, as well as our sobriety checkpoints. So we’ll have both enforcement efforts occurring at the same time,” Rogers said.
The new DWI laws go into effect August 28th, right in the middle of that operation. Under the new law, how drunk you are can change the amount of possible jail time you’ll receive. Those with blood alcohol levels above certain ranges can get stricter penalties.
“A .15 (BAC) or higher has a more severe penalty and I believe they have also have a .20 or higher cutoff in one of the provisions as well,” Rogers said.
Rogers says the chance of having a fatal accident goes up exponentially when a driver has a BAC in those higher ranges
“Approximately 44% of DWI arrests processed (in Missouri) in 2009 had a BAC level of .15 or higher. When you’re comparing the high BAC offender with a non-drinking driver, the relative risk of a single vehicle crash is 382 times higher for a driver with .15 BAC or higher,” Rogers said.
She says Missouri is not the first state to take this kind of step.
“Actually there is federal legislation that encourages states to pass high BAC language, and so several other states do have language to address high BAC offenders and the penalties associated with that,” Rogers said.
The law change will also increase jail time for repeat offenders, allow cases to be moved from municipal courts to state courts (where penalties are tougher), and implement better record keeping so repeat offenders can be properly tracked.