Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tough new laws will help prosecution of drunk drivers

I just returned from a press conference at the office of Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd to help announce an initiative that I hope will lead to  the conviction of more impaired drivers. Last year, Missouri legislators approved sweeping changes to the state's driving while impaired (DWI) laws. One was that drivers who refuse a breath alcohol test now can be subjected to a warrantless draw of their blood. Courts have upheld this law because the body metabolizes alcohol so quickly that by the time a warrant could be obtained, critical evidence could be lost. Previously, drivers who refused a breath test could lose their license for a year but often could avoid a drunk driving conviction. This new law changes that.

Platte County will be the first in the metropolitan area to conduct warrantless blood draws of drunk driving suspects. Because a decent portion of Kansas City is in Platte County - including our North Patrol Division Station - we will be participating. If a drunk driving suspect refuses a breath test, a nurse will be brought to North Patrol to draw the suspect's blood. In some cases, this could even exonerate the suspsect.

We hope this certainly will make people think twice about getting behind the wheel of a vehicle intoxicated. I wrote Monday about the tragic loss of life this has caused in Kansas City.

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