Highway Patrol to tighten DWI enforcement during holiday season

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 | 5:56 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Troop F of the Missouri State Highway Patrol announced Monday that it will participate in a statewide enforcement campaign in an effort to prevent people from driving while intoxicated during the holiday season.

According to a Highway Patrol news release issued Monday, DWI enforcement efforts will be increased from Dec. 13 to Jan. 4.

Troop F serves 13 counties in central Missouri: Audrain, Boone, Callaway, Camden, Cole, Cooper, Gasconade, Howard, Miller, Moniteau, Montgomery, Morgan and Osage counties.

The Highway Patrol plans to have more troopers in areas that have had a lot of alcohol-related arrests or wrecks, Sgt. Paul Reinsch said.

More troopers will also patrol major highways and side roads, and checkpoints are possible, he said.

Reinsch said that there is a higher number of impaired drivers during the holiday season, which contributes to a higher number of car accidents.

"If you're anticipating drinking at a function, plan ahead and make sure you have that sober chauffeur or a taxi lined up," he said.

Reinsch added that it is important to make those arrangements beforehand because of the effects alcohol can have on the decision-making process.

So far this year, drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol have killed 151 people and injured 2,019, according to a Highway Patrol news release. Of the state's 523 fatal crashes this year, 127 have involved an impaired driver.

In 2012, impaired drivers caused 231 deaths and injured 3,984 people.

The first conviction for impaired driving can result in the suspension of the driver's license for up to 90 days, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation's website.

The second conviction can result in a $1,000 fine, a yearlong revocation of the driver's license and up to a year in jail. Additionally, the offender will be required to install an ignition interlock system that will prevent his or her the car from starting if alcohol is detected on his or her breath.

Third and subsequent convictions can result in a fine up to $5,000, a jail sentence of up to seven years or both.

Impaired drivers who cause a fatal crash can be charged with involuntary manslaughter, which is a felony offense resulting in a fine up to $5,000, a jail sentence of up to seven years or both.

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