Missouri Senate passes DWI reform

By Tyler Profilet - bio | email

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - The Missouri state Senate unanimously passed the DWI Reform Bill Wednesday.

Now it heads back to the House for approval.

The bill focuses on several issues.

First, an emphasis will be put on rehabilitation for first time offenders instead of punishment.

However, repeat offenders and those with a blood alcohol content of .15 or above will receive harsher penalties.

A provision that was taken out of the Senate bill was the right for a law enforcement officer to take a blood sample if the driver refuses a blood test.

A local lawyer says that's a good thing.

"To me, it's disturbing to think that we have law enforcement officers finding probable cause that you're driving while intoxicated and then, on the spot, drawing blood involuntarily," said Poplar Bluff attorney Steve Walsh.  "To me, that is frightening."

The Senate version of the bill also calls for new DWI courts which would be similar to current Missouri drug courts to help rehabilitate DWI offenders.

Walsh also says that rehabilitation should be the central focus for first time offenders so they don't end up committing the same crime again.

The bill's sponsor say he expects the house to pass the bill in its entirety, although he says it won't be unanimous.

The Missouri legislative session ends Friday.

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