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Unfit Drivers Beware!

April 25, 1996
By: Pablo Hernandez
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - You might want to consider driving more cautiously when others are looking if a measure passed by the Senate becomes law.

For under that Senate plan, any adult in the state could trigger the state to reevaluate your fitness to drive.

Under the measure passed by the Senate Wednesday, the Revenue Department would be given authority to setup a statewide system for Missourians to report unsafe or unfit drivers.

Currently, the state Revenue Department can review the status of a driver's at any time. However, there are no procedures for alerting the department about a potentially unsafe driver.

"Under my bill anyone can report, provided they are 18 years old," said Sen. Irene Treppler, R-St. Louis County and the bill's sponsor.

The Revenue Department would be given power to require a reported person to be retested or pass a physical in order to retain a driving license.

A person reporting an unsafe driver would be required to give his or her full name and address along with the details to prompted the report. It would be a misdemeanor crime to file a false report.

The bill passed the Senate by a 26-8 vote, but it may face stronger opposition in the House.

Earlier this year, the House defeated a similar proposal after some House members argued that only reports from licensed professionals - like doctors - should be allowed.

The House bill was sponsored by Rep. Lana Stokan, D-St.Louis County. She argues anyone should be able to file a report about a person's inability to drive.

"If you are driving on the road and the person next to you, the car next to you, can not pass a driving test, do you really want him on the road?," said Stokan.

Stokan said the current system is not effective because "physicians don't want to break the patience-doctor confidentiality, law enforcement officers must see the person driving or an accident or an injury and judges are not in a position to see the people driving."

Rep. May Scheve, D-St. Louis County, has a different opinion. She introduced an amendment to let these reports only to physicians and law enforcement officers. She said that the idea of anyone reporting impaired driver is "such a far step down the line."

Scheve said that the people against the bill "are against the concept of setting up a system where your driving privileges can be taken away because of someone else's judgment who is not a professional."