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Officers hope new policy helps deter drinking and driving

A new policy in Miller County could affect travelers heading to the Lake of the Ozarks.

A new no refusal policy means that people cannot refuse a sobriety test. If a driver still says “no”, now, within minutes, an officer can get a blood search warrant, meaning a trip to the hospital to see what your blood alcohol level is.

Corporal Scott White with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said, “the Lake of the Ozarks is where people come to have a good time and part of our responsibility is to manage that a little bit.”

Most people know during the summer time, the Lake of the Ozarks is the place to be in Mid-Missouri.

That’s a big reason why the Miller County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Howard has passed a new policy, to help police out.

“Usually, there are a lot of cops per prosecutor so you’re going to get interrupted in your sleep, miss a lot of family events, lots of meals you don’t get home in time for because you’re the only one and the same thing for the judges, they get interrupted a lot too,” said Howard.

Now, with a few clicks on the keyboard and a phone call, officers can get officials’ signatures within minutes for a blood search warrant.

“I can have a little cursor and it floats my official signature in a different color ink into the document, and ‘bing’, it’s in there and it becomes permanent, and then it goes into the judge’s computer,” said Howard.

This makes a big difference for police because often the longer they wait, the more alcohol leaves a person’s system. If someone wrecks their car while drinking, now police can see if they’re drunk almost instantly.

“We’ve had a lot of fatalities and so really part of this no refusal policy is to reduce those numbers and to really bring it to the public consciousness that we’re trying to prevent alcohol from being a real problem and from causing such tragedy in people’s lives, ” said Corporal White.

From January to May 2014, 244 people in Missouri have died due to alcohol-related crashes, reinforcing the need to have a designated driver if people are planning on drinking.

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