JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Missouri Governor Eric Greitens will decide if a proposed amendment that would virtually eliminate DWI checkpoints will become law.
If it is signed into law, House Bill 4 would slash funding for checkpoints to just $1 per year. It would go into effect on August 28, 2017.
Representative Scott Fitzpatrick, a republican from Shell Knob, introduced the amendment in February. Members of the house passed it on April 4. The Senate signed off on it on May 4.
And that's something that concerns some members of law enforcement.
"A dollar per year isn't enough to do anything," said Sergeant Jon Jensen with the Jackson Police Department.
Right now, the budget for checkpoints is at $20 million.
"Part of the amendment is not really to de-fund, but to drop down to a dollar per year. That money for the DWI Task Force," said Sergeant Jensen.
Representative Scott Fitzpatrick said he thinks money should go toward saturation patrols which he said are designed to put more officers out on the streets as opposed to stopping more cars.
"Saturation patrols are more effective and they get more drunk drivers without the inconvenience to people who are trying to get from a to b, and are getting caught up in the process," Representative Fitzpatrick said.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) released a statement on May 3 and called the decision to eliminate funding 'disgraceful.'
"Using the budget to eliminate a proven countermeasure against drunk driving is disgraceful," said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. "We know from peer-reviewed studies that sobriety checkpoints reduce drunk driving deaths by 20 percent by catching drunk drivers. Publicity about checkpoints on social media and in the news deters people from drinking and getting behind the wheel, because they know they will be caught."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sobriety checkpoints reduce drunk driving deaths by 20 percent.
"I'd like to think they've saved lives. I know they've deterred impaired drivers, and anytime we can get an impaired driver off the street makes it safer for everybody. Especially my wife and my kids. Your family," Sgt. Jensen said.
Those checkpoints have resulted in more than 4,000 arrests in Missouri in the last three years, according to MADD.
The US Supreme court ruled in 1990 that DWI checkpoints are constitutional.
However, Fitzpatrick disagrees with the ruling.
"By literally stopping every single person that passes a point, and temporarily detaining them, that to me is contrary to what the constitution says," Fitzpatrick said.
Sergeant Jensen said he hopes representatives like Fitzpatrick take a second look at the value of checkpoints.
"I'd challenge any of our administrators, representatives to come out to any of our checkpoints and see what we do, and see the positive impact that we have in the community," Sgt. Jensen said.
Here's how local lawmakers voted on May 4:
- Elaine Gannon (R-115) - Yes
- Kevin Engler (R-116) - Yes
- Mike Henderson (R-117) - Yes
- Paul Fitzwater (R-144) - Yes
- Rick Francis (R-145) - Yes
- Donna Lichtenegger (R-146) - Yes
- Holly Rehder (R-148) - Yes
- Don Rone (R-149) - Yes
- Andrew McDaniel (R-150) - No
- Tila Hubrecht (R-151) - Yes
- Todd Richardson (R-152, House Speaker) - Yes
- Steve Cookson (R-153) - Absent
The bill was sent to Governor Greitens on May 4.