St. Louis will get much tougher on punishing first-time drunken drivers, and the mayor hopes the action spurs other area leaders to be more consistent in how they treat first-time DWIs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Mayor Francis Slay ordered prosecutors in municipal court to stop granting plea deals in DWI cases that reduce charges or otherwise allow driving records to stay clean. Prosecutors also will push for more use of devices that test a defendant’s breath before the car will start.
The policy mirrors laws in other states as well as federal recommendations that aim to tighten loopholes in DWI enforcement. Slay wrote in a blog that In his blog Tuesday, Slay wrote that he was tired of the “mixed messages” Missouri sends on DWI enforcement. The policy shift comes after a Post-Dispatch investigation that found that St. Louis area courts grant the most leniency to DWI defendants of any region in the state. The newspaper found that for every seven DWI cases, only one ends in a DWI conviction. In the rest, courts either convict defendants of non-alcohol offenses, such as careless driving, or put them in a special no-conviction probation program that keeps the DWI off their records and eventually seals the case from public view.