MO Prosecutors Let 10,000 Drivers Keep Licenses Without Breath Tests


Refuse a breath test in Missouri and lose your license for a year. It’s one of the toughest DWI sanctions in state law. And one of the most ignored, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Since 2000, area prosecutors have let more than 10,000 drivers keep their licenses despite refusing to take breath tests.
When drivers refuse to take the breath test, the law allows them to appeal the one-year suspensions in civil court. The process is supposed to be separate from any criminal DWI case that comes from the traffic stop. Most prosecutors bargain away the suspensions as part of plea deals in the criminal DWI cases. The end result: Defendants admit to driving drunk and don’t miss one day of driving. State data show that a third of people arrested annually for DWI refuse to take an alcohol test. Authorities could get search warrants to draw blood, but most prosecutors say that is too cumbersome for all but the most serious cases. So Missouri, like most states, uses another tactic: scaring drivers into thinking they’ll lose their licenses for much longer if they don’t cooperate.

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