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Missouri House bill hopes to lessen drunk driving


In Missouri, 11,100 potential drunk drivers were stopped by ignition interlock devices in their cars in 2020. That's 11,100 fewer people driving impaired on Missouri roads because they had to blow into a device before starting their car.

Current Missouri law requires a person found guilty of driving while drunk with prior alcohol-related offenses to have an ignition interlock device installed in their car. House Bill 1680, introduced by Rep. Mark Sharp (D-Kansas City), removes the requirement of a prior convention for an ignition interlock device to be added.

Thirty-four states and Washington, D.C., have similar laws in place. In Kansas, drunk driving deaths decreased by 40% after implementing a first-time offender ignition interlock law, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Just because someone was convicted of drunk driving for the first time, doesn't mean it was their first time driving drunk. Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show first-time offenders have, on average, driven drunk about 80 times before getting caught.

A public hearing for HB 1680 was held Monday afternoon. Allyson Summers with Mothers Against Drunk Driving testified in favor of the bill.

"There was a 9% increase (in drunk driving) from 2019 to 2020," Summers told ABC 17. "So, impaired driving is unfortunately on the rise."

Mothers Against Drunk Driving is an international advocacy organization started in 1985 when founder Cindy Lightner lost her daughter to a drunk driver. Summers joined after losing a friend to a similar incident.

"One of my high school friends was hit by a drunk driver driving the wrong way on a highway in Kansas," Summers said. "He was killed on impact, so the cause is very personal to me."

The bill received bipartisan support in the Crime Prevention Committee. Chairman Rep. Lane Roberts (R-Joplin) said throughout his law enforcement career he saw too many lives ruined by drunk driving and is in favor of the bill.

"This was a good bill that I thought that members from both sides of the aisle could agree on," Sharp said.

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.


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