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MADD rails against Mo. legislative proposal to cut funding for sobriety check points

TOPEKA, Kan. — Police say a Topeka man charged with driving drunk and killing a woman is being sued.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the wrongful death lawsuit against 33-year-old Jason Patterson alleges negligence. Patterson is charged with involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence of alcohol. He also could face an alternative charge of reckless second-degree murder in the Fourth of July death of 60-year-old Tara French. Shawnee County District Court records show the victim’s widower, Rodney French, is seeking more than $75,000.

Patterson is accused of hitting French with a pickup truck as she crossed a street after arguing with another woman over fireworks that had been shot off near Topeka’s Lake Shawnee.

Patterson denied drinking, but police say his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

In Missouri, activist group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) took a strong stance against a Missouri legislative proposal to cut funding for sobriety check points. MADD issued a press release Wednesday outlining their position.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is appalled that the Missouri House of Representatives has voted in favor of a proposal to slash funds for lifesaving sobriety checkpoints.

Under HB4 by Representative Scott Fitzpatrick and approved by the House yesterday, sobriety checkpoints would be virtually eliminated because they would receive just $1 in funding in 2018.

HB4 will now be sent to the Senate for approval. MADD is urging Senators to remove the amendment limiting the funding for sobriety checkpoints, which have resulted in 4,152 arrests in Missouri over the past three years.

“MADD is concerned and appalled that the Missouri House has chosen to use the budget to enact and change laws to include limiting funding for a lifesaving tool to $1,” said Meghan Carter, executive director of MADD Missouri. “MADD believes that a life is worth more than $1, and sobriety checkpoints are not only effective in removing impaired drivers from our roadways, but mostly serve as a proven deterrent to drunk driving.”

Sobriety checkpoints reduce drunk driving fatalities by 20 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Earlier this month, law enforcement officials in Missouri conducted sobriety checkpoints around the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, and as a result 66 people were arrested in Kansas City.

“The recent sobriety checkpoints underscore why we need to keep them in Missouri,” said Carter. “Why would legislators want to eliminate a drunk driving countermeasure that clearly is working?”