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Drunken Drivers Targeted

February 18, 1998
By: Jeffrey Hutson
MDN Columbia Bureau

Susan West remembers driving home to Columbia from the Lake of the Ozarks. Suddenly a car crosses the median. The man who hit her was a repeat drunk driver with no license and no insurance.

West survived the accident four years ago, but suffered two broken legs, two broken arms, a collapsed right lung, and head injuries.

West now gives presentations of her story to traffic violators as part of the Heads Up Program at MU. These violators were caught for speeding or drunk driving.

A person is guilty of drunk driving if their blood alcohol content is point-ten-percent or greater.

West says, "There should be zero tolerance allowed for drivers on the road, but I don't know if that will ever happen."

West is pleased to hear that State Senator Morris Westfall is pushing a bill that would lower the legal blood alcohol content to point-zero-eight percent.

Westfall, a Republican from Halfway, says, "A blood alcohol content of point-oh-eight percent is enough to impair a person's judgement, and that poses a huge risk to others lives."

Andrew Vrooman, owner of The Thirsty Turtle in Columbia, is opposed to the bill.

Vrooman says, "Lowering the limit to point-oh-eight seems more intimidating than point-ten, and that could cause hesitation by our customers to come into our bar and drink. It's not good for business."

Phil Frame, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says that Missouri would be the sixteenth state to lower the legal blood alcohol content to point-oh-eight.

Frame also says, "The lowering of the legal level to point-oh-eight has proven effective in the states that have passed the law already."

The State Senate Transportation Committee has discussed the bill. Westfall says it probably won't get voted on until late February.