Missouri scores well on DWI prevention but not penalties

A recent study ranked Missouri relatively well on drunk driving prevention but not so well for its drunk driving penalties.

Drunk driving is not a new problem facing Missouri residents but it is one that has been receiving an increasing amount of attention in recent decades. A new study conducted by WalletHub took a look at how different states are faring today in the war on drunk driving.

Missouri's mixed results

In evaluating all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the study ranked each area on its preventative approach to drunk driving and its punitive approach to drunk driving. These scores were then put together to create a final overall ranking.

For prevention, the study evaluated things like mandatory use of ignition interlock devices, loss of driving privileges before conviction, treatment programs and sobriety checkpoints were included. For penalties, minimum incarceration times, imposition of felony status, special penalties for high blood alcohol content and fines were included.

When it came to prevention, Missouri ranked near the top in seventh place. When it came to penalties, however, Missouri ranked number 39 out of 51. Overall, the state ended up in a three-way tie for twenty-fifth place.

Missouri's approach to DWIs

Missouri has no minimum stated incarceration times for either first or second DWI convictions. The National Conference of State Legislatures explains that both first and second convictions are treated as misdemeanors. Only after a third conviction does a driver face felony charges.

When it comes to loss of driving privileges, a first offense may result in an automatic suspension lasting 90 days according to the Missouri Department of Revenue. Drivers will have licenses revoked for 12 months after second offenses. That revocation could turn into a 60-month denial if the second offense was within 60 months of the first offense.

Drunk driving deaths in Missouri

A look at statistics provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show the continued threat that impaired drivers pose to people in Missouri. Between 2010 and 2014, there were 358 vehicular fatalities associated with alcohol in Jackson County alone.

Statewide, the numbers ranged from 204 on the low end to 283 on the high end for a single year during that five-year span. Those deaths were out of a low of 757 and a high of 826 for all traffic deaths per year across the state.

The fight is not over

Despite a relatively positive ranking for preventative efforts, Missouri's war on drunk driving continues. People who are injured or who lose loved ones in drunk driving accidents should contact an attorney for help. This is an important way of seeking appropriate compensation after such a tragedy.

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