Missouri Senate bill aims to crack down on repeat drunk drivers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - More than 200 people died on Missouri highways in 2010 from a common cause: drunk driving. A new bill in the legislature aims to crack down on it.

Diana Bechthold lost Bruce, her husband of 23 years, to a drunk driver in May 2011.

"He was a wonderful, wonderful man," said Bechthold.

Less than a year later, Diana and her four kids are fighting for justice.

"I think the person that killed my husband should serve the toughest penalty," said Bechthold.

That's why she's encouraged by Missouri Senate bill 443.

Right now, repeat offenders can drive to work, medical treatment, school, substance treatment programs, to a service appointment for their in-car breathalyzer, or other circumstances approved by the court.

This bill would remove trips for medical services and miscellaneous purposes. It also contains harsher penalties for repeat offenders.

Avis Lowe is a victim advocate specialist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Of the cases she works, Lowe estimates 75 percent involve repeat offenders. She believes this bill would give families some peace of mind.

"You see those cars driving out there, you don't know if they're legal or not legal. It goes through their minds," said Lowe.

Bechthold says the more consequences, the better.

"I just wish people would realize the impact they make on other peoples' families and this surely has impacted our family greatly," said Bechthold.

If approved, the bill would align Missouri's drunk driving standards with federal regulations already in place. So far it has received first round approval in the Senate.

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