Tougher drunk driving law proposed in Missouri
January 27, 2005
Jefferson City - Heard this week in the Senate's Judiciary Committee was a bill Missouri Sen. Gary Nodler (R-32), assistant majority floor leader, has been working on for several months that would stiffen penalties for those convicted of involuntary manslaughter in certain circumstances.

Genesis for the legislation are the tragic deaths of 7-year-old Jessica Mann and her grandfather, James Dodson, 68, who perished as a result of injuries inflicted by a car that left the roadway and struck them where they had been walking. The car's driver, Edward Meerwald, 50, of Noel, allegedly was intoxicated, and has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of only 7 years imprisonment.

Under Senate Bill 37 recently presented to the Judiciary and Civil & Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, a person who commits involuntary manslaughter would be be guilty of a Class A felony if the person has a blood alcohol level that is one and a half times the legal limit, or if a fatality occurs when the person's vehicle leaves a public thoroughfare. This language would further define Section A. Section 565.024, RSMo.

"I've had the honor of working with the family of Jessica and Mr. Dodson in advancing this bill," Nodler said. "Our collective efforts won't return loved ones lost to needless death, but this legislation will ensure the consistent and just application of consequences on those that so carelessly and senselessly inflict harm."

Joint session meets

Nodler met this week with Senate and House peers in a joint session of the legislature to hear Governor Blunt's State-of-the-State address and budget message. Nodler reported that the governor wishes to balance the state budget and increase school funding without raising taxes, and pledged to do so by reviewing tax policies and cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse in government.

The governor also mentioned his commitment to legislation broadening the practice of advance voting, tracking the sale of over-thecounter cold remedies used in the production of methamphetamine and revising workers' compensation law. In an effort to allow more Missourians to hear his message, Blunt delivered his remarks to lawmakers in the evening - rather than the traditional morning delivery of previous years. A number of television and radio stations aired live coverage of the address.

The Missouri Senate convenes again on Monday, January 31. Two days later, lawmakers will again meet in joint session to hear the transportation department's chief deliver his annual report.

Editor's note:

The Senator will express his views during the following broadcasts in Feb. 2005:

KGCS-TV interview airs on Cable One, channel 7; channel 77, Mediacom; and channel 57, UHF.

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More taxes...more booze neededjustjoe122602005-01-27 17:22:13