H.B. 1804 to toughen drunk driving law
February 03, 2010
ST. LOUIS - Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) urged support of Missouri House Bill 1804 authored by Rep. Jeanne Kirkton (D-Webster Groves) requiring all first time convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock in Missouri. One of the lead co-sponsors is Rep. Bryan P. Stephenson (R-128) of Webb City.

A breath alcohol ignition interlock system is a breathalyzer installed on the dashboard of a vehicle used by a driver with a DUI conviction that helps prevent its operation if that person is intoxicated or impaired. The driver must blow into the BAC tester and register a blood alcohol count below the legal limit in order for the ignition to engage and the car to operate normally. Information about laws governing driving while intoxicated in Missouri may be found here.

"The elimination of drunk driving can become a reality," said Meghan Carter, affiliate director of MADD Missouri. "The first step to preventing deaths and injuries due to drunk driving is by requiring ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers. MADD applauds the efforts of Representative Kirkton for authoring House Bill 1804 which will help save lives and end the Missouri subsidy of drunk driving."

Interlocks have been proven to reduce repeat drunk driving offenses by an average of 64 percent. Currently, 12 states including Illinois and Arkansas require ignition interlocks for all first time convicted drunk drivers. Missouri currently requires ignition interlocks for repeat convicted drunk drivers.

"Ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers protect public safety while allowing them the ability to drive without further endangering the public. These devices reinforce sober driving and make our roads safer. And that's what this legislation is about - saving lives," Kirkton said.

In 2008, 310 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in Missouri. From 1998 to 2008, 4,221 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in Missouri.

"Drunk driving remains a violent crime and House Bill 1804 can help prevent and deter drunk driving," Carter added. Due to a similar law enacted in both New Mexico and Arizona, those states have seen drunk driving fatalities decrease by 35 and 33 percent respectively.

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