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The House Debates Lowering the Blood Alcohol Limit

April 8, 1998
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

A parliamentary procedure was used in the House to kill an effort to lower the legal blood alcohol level for driving while intoxicated.

Missy Shelton takes a look at the debate on the issue.

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Discussion focused on lowering the legal blood alcohol limit from .10 to .08 and how effective that would be in locking up drunk drivers.

Opposition came mostly from Democrats.

Tim Green, a Democrat from St Louis County, said he believes it's an issue of enforcing current law, not changing it.

Actuality:Tim Green
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Contents: [104K WAV file - Tim Green] Tim Green said we need to make sure the courts enforce the law, creating a lower rate will not solve the problem. You can ask the police officiers in your area.

But supporters of the measure said drivers are impaired at .08.

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The Missouri House failed to pass a lower blood alcohol level.

Missy Shelton has details on the debate.

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Springfield legislators on both sides of the aisle spoke in favor of lowering the legal blood alcohol limit from .10 to .08.

Under current law, reckless driving can warrant an arrest for drunk driving even if the driver's blood alcohol level is below .10.

But prosecutors seldom follow through on those charges.

Roy Holand, a Republican from Springfield, said lowering the number to .08 would mean more prosecutions and more convictions.

Actuality:Holand
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Contents: [115K WAV file - Roy Holand] Roy Holand said this will enable our prosecutors to pursue this and if they don't, there's an election this year. Let's get some new prosecutors and give them some more money and let's pursue this.

Some opponents argued current law just needs to be enforced.

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The Missouri House has rejected an amendment to lower the blood alcohol limit.

Missy Shelton has a look at debate on this issue.

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Legislators wanting to lower Missouri's blood alcohol limit faced opposition from those who said the change is not needed.

Bill Gratz is a Democrat from Jefferson City.

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Contents: [225K WAV file - Bill Gratz] Bill Gratz said he knows some people who drive safer at .08 than other some people at .00. He sees people driving with driving along with cell phones or someone driving down interstate 70 with a newspaper spread across the steering wheel.

Other opponents said the law that's already in place simply needs to be enforced.

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The Missouri House failed to approve/approved a lower blood alcohol level.

Missy Shelton takes a look at debate on the floor of the House.

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Lowering Missouri's blood alcohol limit from .10 to .08 met opposition from those who said alcohol affects different people in different ways.

But supporters of the bill argued impairment does occur for many people at .08.

Roy Holand is a Republican from Springfield.

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Contents: [85K WAV file - Roy Holand] Roy Holand said .08 shows impairment for everybody and can cause a large or small accident at that level.

Springfield legislators from both sides of the aisle spoke in support of the measure.

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