A bill sponsored by Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, which would toughen the penalties for drunk drivers, has received preliminary approval in the Senate. If approved on its next vote in the Senate, it will go the House.
Nodler's bill was inspired by the death of James Dodson, 68, Neosho, and his eight-year-old granddaughter Jessica Mann on July 31, 2004, The two were standing in Dodson's driveway, when a car driven by Edward Meerwald, 51, Noel, left Highway 86 left the road and struck them both, killing them. Meerwald eventually pleaded guilty, but could only be sentenced to seven years in prison.
Nodler's bill would toughen sentences for repeat drunk drivers and delay their eligibility for parole. If his bill receives approval on the final vote, it goes to the House, where similar legislation is being sponsored by House Speaker Rod Jetton.