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Sunday, July 8, 2007


Gov. Matt Blunt on July 2 signed legislation closing a loophole in Missouri law that allowed some people arrested for drunken driving to have evidence of their intoxication ruled inadmissible in court. The provision of HB 574 was prompted by the 2004 DWI arrest of state Rep. Charles Portwood, R-Ballwin, following an accident in which his vehicle ran through a fence and hit a pool house.

A 1982 law required medical personnel collecting a blood sample from a DWI suspect to use a non-alcoholic swab to sterilize the area from where the blood is drawn. That didn’t happen in Portwood’s case, forcing the St. Louis County prosecutor to dismiss the charges against him in 2006.

Following the publicity raised by the dismissal, several medical experts said use of an alcohol swab doesn’t taint the results of blood samples used to determine a suspect’s blood alcohol content because medicinal alcohol is chemically different from alcohol that is consumed. “This legislation ensures those guilty of driving while intoxicated will not be able to escape conviction merely because our guidelines on testing alcohol levels were too explicit,” Blunt said in a statement.

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