Repeat DWI Offenders

By Linda Ong |

Published 04/17 2014 07:15PM

Updated 04/17 2014 07:24PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Richard Reed's son was killed 17 years ago by a drunk driver.

Reed said his son was gentle, loved life, and was a great builder -- he was 35 years old when he died.

"It's hard," said Reed. "Nobody goes into a situation ready to give up a child."

His son's death prompted him to join the non-profit organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving to advocate against drinking and driving. He said there's a need for stricter consequences for repeat DWI offenders.

According to the Springfield Police Department, the number of driving while intoxicated arrests in the city decreased from 1583 in 2012 to 1068 in 2013-- a mix of first time and repeat offenders.

Two Missouri men will spend years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for several instances of driving drunk. Sixty-year-old Michael Hodge of Springfield received a ten year sentence, while 52-year-old Lance Rotramel of Jackson received a 15 year sentence.

Lisa Cox, Public Informations Officer for the Springfield Police Department, said the main difference between a first-time and repeat DWI offender is that the first is treated as a misdemeanor and the latter as a felony.

"Basically, all of these cases are treated the same. Whether it's the first offense or the tenth offense. But the officer would gather all the factual information," said Cox. "All that information would go into a report to present to prosecutors for their determination of the offense."

According to state law, a first-time DWI results in a 90-day driving suspension. A driver convicted three or more times for an alcohol-related offense will receive a 10 year license denial, but that cannot prevent the possibility of a repeat offender from drinking and driving again.

"People get away with it because there's no fear of the law," said Reed. "First, second time offenders basically get slapped on the hand."

Court and attorney fees can be costly, but Reed believes there needs to be harsher punishment.

"I think they need to come up with some type of shock time, something to really get their attention," he said. "That it's not all right to drink and drive because it's too easy to make a mistake."

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