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MoDOT and Highway Patrol Team Up to Discourage Driving While Intoxicated

Advertising, enforcement, new legislation, and new memorial signs are all designed to work together to make Missouri drivers more aware of the dangers of impaired driving. KSMU’s Ryan Welch has the story.

A new, strengthened anti-DWI law will go into effect August 28th. It will increase jail time for repeat DWI offenders and mandate better record-keeping for DWI cases to track offenders. It will also move more cases from municipal courts to state courts where penalties can be tougher. Finally, it will offer offenders the opportunity to participate in a DWI court program that incorporates treatment instead of going to jail.

MoDOT spokesperson Bob Edwards says this new law is a big step in the fight against impaired driving.

“It seems like it’s a continual problem and law enforcement and highway safety people feel like we need to continue the effort to draw attention to the hazards of that practice. If we can somehow get through to people and convince a few not to do it, there’s no way to quantify how many lives are saved, but you have to try,” Edwards said.

The annual anti-DWI campaign that is currently in effect will run until September 6th. The campaign features the slogan, “You drink and drive, you lose,” as well as new David’s Law memorial signs being put up at the locations of DWI accidents where a victim was killed. David's Law is named for a victim of impaired driving. His sister, Gail Rehme, pushed for the legislation that went into effect in 2009. The blue memorial signs read "Drunk Driving Victim!" and includes the person's initials, the month and year of the victim’s death, and the words "Think About It." The signs are requested and paid for by the family of a drunk driving victim.

Sgt. Dan Bracker is with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.“Part of the news releases and programs such as what we’re doing now is to deter drunk drivers. When they hear that there’s going to be saturation spot checks or check points out there, they’re going to think twice, hopefully, about drinking and driving,” Bracker said.

Saturation spot checks are areas of the county where law enforcement officers drive around looking for impaired drivers. Bracker says an impaired driver can be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

For KSMU News, I’m Ryan Welch.