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2017 change in Missouri DWI law affects charges in Britt Reid crash

Reids Dodge Ram.jpg
Posted at 10:05 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 23:57:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Former Chiefs assistant linebackers coach Britt Reid has been charged with driving while intoxicated in connection with a Feb. 4 crash that left a 5-year-old girl with a traumatic brain injury. And due to a change in Missouri law four years ago, the maximum amount of jail time he could face if convicted is seven years.

“My job is to work within Missouri law, and this is the highest charge I can level under Missouri law for the facts and circumstances that I have for this case,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker told 41 Action News in an exclusive interview.

The Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced Monday the Reid, 35, has been charged with DWI-Serious Physical Injury, a class D felony with a potential jail sentence of one to seven years.

Missouri lawmakers changed the state’s DWI laws in 2017 when they overhauled the state’s criminal code. The changes brought “unintended consequences," according to Chris Mann, a Kansas City, Missouri, attorney and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) advocate.

“The change in the law has affected what happens when there are multiple injured parties in a crash or multiple fatalities in a crash,” Mann said. “Prior to 2017 (prosecutors) could have charged numerous counts of assault for the multiple people that were hurt in this incident, but because of the change in the law, this single charge is the most they can do.”

MADD annually publishes a “report card” for each state, based on state laws and initiatives that are aimed to reduce drunk driving. In 2019, Missouri scored a 3.5 out of 5. Kansas scored a 4.5.

The report said while Missouri became the 18th state to require ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, the state “took a seismic step backwards by defunding lifesaving sobriety checkpoints.”

There currently is a proposal being debated to prohibit sobriety checkpoints in the state.

“If we can make sure that tool is still available for law enforcement, then we want to do everything we can,” Meghan Carter, director of field operations for MADD Missouri, said. “Each and every life lost, each and every individual injured is 100% preventable.”