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Monday, Dec. 22, 2014

DWI rankings are sobering statistics

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Missouri is now officially a pure haven for drunk drivers. Well that's a bit of an exaggeration but new statistics out this week show that Kansas City and St. Louis both rank in the top eight in the nation for drunk driving incidents. That's one statistic where being near the top of the list is most certainly not a good thing.

Until the cops and the courts quit winking at drunk driving arrests, the problem will continue. For far too long, a drunk driving arrest and conviction depends on your money and who you know. Those days should end. Drunk drivers will kill someone in your family or someone close to you if you don't speak up now.

State lawmakers reluctantly took one important step last year by decreasing the blood-alcohol content required for a driving while intoxicated conviction. It's far too early to tell at this point just how much impact this change will bring. But that legislation is just one move.

National experts say there are two important ways to reduce drinking and driving cases - first, increase random sobriety checkpoints and secondly, impose strict penalties for the drunk driving cases. Drunks may be ignorant but they're not stupid. If you have regular sobriety checkpoints, the word gets out quickly and designated drivers replace drivers who are drinking.

But the key to drunk drivers, in my opinion, is to demand strict penalties. Hit a drunk in their pocket and put them in jail for shock treatment over a weekend. That will go a long way toward changing the attitude on drunk drivers.

Missouri unfortunately in my opinion is using much of their federal grant money toward education on drunk driving. I think we've had ample education. If you don't know by now that driving drunk is wrong, more education is not going to change one's attitude whatsoever. Use the money for random checkpoints and for more law enforcement. That's how you bring change.

When the two urban areas of Missouri are among the worst drunk driving offenders in the nation, obviously something is wrong. If we don't increase our attention to this matter, everyone reading this column will someday be impacted by a drunk driver. It's just a matter of time.



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