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Thursday, May 5, 2016

State DWI law changes to impact Monett

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New legislation dealing with drunk drivers has been signed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and went into effect on Aug. 28. Changes will affect the way a number of law enforcement operations are handled and may impact how the Monett Police Department handles prisoners.

The new law authorizes the creation of a DWI Court for processing offenders charged with alcohol-related offenses. DWI Courts were set up for counties with a population of at least 600,000 and will not affect Monett, where DWI cases are handled in municipal court.

Monett Police Chief Tim Schweder said more stringent penalties will have the most likely impact on Monett operations. A person arrested for operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or more on the first offense may have to serve jail time.

A subject convicted of operating a motor vehicle with a high BAC will have to complete a court-ordered treatment program, such as the Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP). to earn a suspended imposition of sentence. If treatment is not completed, a subject with a BAC of .15 and .20 must be jailed for at least 48 hours. A subject with a BAC greater than .20 must be jailed for at least five days.

Record of a first alcohol-related driving offense will not be erased under a suspended imposition of sentence, as in the past. The law directs the Department of Revenue to keep records in case another alcohol related offense occurs. The classification of a persistent offender may then be applied.

The minimum imprisonment for an alcohol-related driving offense was increased from five to 10 days for a prior offender. For a persistent offender, the penalty was increased from 10 to 30 days, unless a court-ordered treatment program or community service is performed.

Persons convicted in Monett Municipal Court would serve their time in the city jail. Schweder said the jail at the Monett Police Department is operated by officers and not separate jailers.

"Officers feed, provide medicine and handle phone calls and emergencies for prisoners," Schweder said. "If we had 10 or more people in the jail at one time, it would create a problem for us. We average three a day in jail. The most we have had is 10 in one day."

The city is authorized to charge prisoners for room and board. Schweder said the city is limited to charging no more than what the sheriff charges, which is $35 a day. The charge has been levied for more than a year. Schweder said the amount does not begin to cover the city's costs.

Previously a person arrested or stopped for allegedly driving while intoxicated could refuse to submit to a chemical test and no test would be given. The new law allows a test to be given despite a refusal. Officers can now arrest a subject for an intoxication-related traffic offense without a warrant for longer than the previously set window of 90 minutes of the alleged violation.

The way officers handle intoxication-related offenses will not change under the new law, Schweder said. The only real change in processing will occur when a photo of the prisoner is taken at the time of fingerprinting.

Records of arrests have long been submitted to the Missouri State Highway Patrol as the central data base for arrests. The new law specifies arrests for intoxication-related offenses will be sent with the subject's photograph. Schweder was not sure how the specification would make a difference, since records were due to be submitted previously.

One change Schweder expected was a requirement in the law directing the municipal judge to adopt a policy for reporting alcohol-related cases to the state.

Those who have had more than one alcohol-related enforcement may be directed to get an ignition interlock device. No vendor in Barry County offers such a service.

The only business in Monett that was installing interlock devices was Certified Automotive Repair. Owner Mike Schied told The Times he has withdrawn from the program.

"It was not profitable for the shop," Schied said. "We were paid a very minimal fee, and many people were calling us because they couldn't figure out how to make their cars work. It got to be too much trouble."

Schied said the interlock device provider, Smart Start of Missouri, based in Buckner, is presently looking for another local vendor for the program.

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