Missouri loses perfect rating from MADD
COLUMBIA – Missouri is no longer perfect in the eyes of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
The advocacy group knocked the state down from its five-star rating during its annual overview because of how Missouri handles license suspensions and blood-test refusals.
Bud Balke, MADD’S Central Missouri Court Monitor said it is difficult right now to enforce blood alcohol tests because “we do not have a state law that requires all counties do a no-refusal.”
Each state is ranked in five areas: requiring interlocks, conducting sobriety checkpoints, how the state revokes driver’s licenses from those who drive drunk, the amount of times a child is in danger and the refusal of a blood alcohol test.
Lieutenant David Williams of the Jefferson City Police Department said despite the lack of a "no-refusal" law, authorities will go to different lengths to get the test.
“They don’t just get out of that by refusing. There’s a longer process at that point to where our prosecutor has to be contacted, a search warrant has to be drawn up, a judge has to sign it and then there’s a blood draw associated with that,” said Williams.
Without a “no-refusal” law, drunk or drugged drivers can refuse to have their blood drawn or to take a breathalyzer test. It also requires expedited warrants for law enforcement to collect evidence to prosecute drunk drivers. Some Missouri counties already do it on their own.
Overall, 20 percent of suspected drunk drivers refuse to take a sobriety test after they are pulled over. However, Missouri does have an “implied consent law” that revokes driving privileges from those who refuse to be tested at all for at least a year.
For Central Missouri MADD President Robbie Pace-Courtright, the matter is more personal. She lost her brother on May 13, 2002 to a drunk and drugged driver. He was killed around Republic while doing signage for MoDOT. Pace-Courtright said it is important to remember that even one drink can be hazardous to a person's driving ability.
“I really think that sometimes people don’t realize, even in buzzed driving or one drink how it really does affect their skill in driving,” Pace-Courtright said.
Her brother’s death is what encouraged her to first get involved with MADD, as she wanted to honor his legacy and fight against what caused his death.
The Jefferson City Police Department is also working to make sure drunk drivers are off the roads. They said the station’s goal is to get all drunk drivers off the road through education and enforcement.
“A lot of people don’t really always remember that driving is a privilege, it’s not a right,” said Williams.
He also reminds people there are several other ways to get home.
“Calling a cab, calling a friend or they get to ride with [Jefferson City Police Department],” said Williams.