Missouri drivers could see fewer impaired driving checkpoints under the budget proposed by the legislature.
Language added by the House would prevent money in that budget from being used on checkpoints. It could still be used for other enforcement efforts, and many lawmakers said they would prefer to see it used for saturation efforts – periods of increased numbers of law enforcement personnel on the roads.
House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob) said saturation efforts are more effective.
“Once the subcommittee passed that amendment, made that recommendation, I researched the issue, and the reality is that saturation patrols result in a greater number of arrests and at less cost per arrest,” said Fitzpatrick. “To me what we should do as a budget committee is make sure that we’re spending the money in a way that gets the most number of drunk drivers off the road.”
The shift was strongly opposed by the Representative Kathie Conway (R-St. Charles), who chairs the subcommittee on the Department of Public Safety’s budget.
“I think that any time we take funds away that help law enforcement stop DWIs, it’s shameful,” said Conway. “These two different methods – the saturation and the DUI checkpoints – work in harmony in the more populous areas … what I wanted to see allowed, either or, or a combination, it did not restrict it, and I very much do not like the House version of it.”
Several House Democrats agreed that they would rather have seen law enforcement allowed to continue using state appropriated funds for checkpoints, however the change was supported by several members of the legislature with law enforcement backgrounds.
Fitzpatrick said he wants to at least see some results.
The change means that for the fiscal year beginning July 1, law enforcement agencies can still conduct DUI checkpoints, but they cannot use funds allocated by the state budget to pay for them.
The House and Senate voted Thursday to send that budget plan to Governor Eric Greitens (R), one day ahead of its constitutional deadline.