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An extensive examination of state driving records by The Kansas City Star has revealed facts that are compelling as people prepare to celebrate the New Year in homes, hotels and bars -- and then hit the road. New Year's is one of the deadliest of holidays.

PART ONE

Survivors
Wendy Yang/The Star
Carol Keeney holds a picture of her late daughter, Phyllis Keeney Lawrence, who was killed by a drunk driver on June 22, 1997. Keeney is pictured with her husband, Dick, and daughter, Jennifer, 28, in their home in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Kansas City leads Missouri in alcohol-related crashes
Kansas City is the Missouri capital of drunken driving. The city leads the state in drunken-driving accidents. It leads the state in convicted drunken drivers who continue to drive. And it leads the state in the number of drivers with 10 or more convictions for driving while drunk. The findings were compiled in an extensive examination of state driving records by The Kansas City Star.
Fatal crash ends drunken driver's denial
Wylie Barton LaRue III had crossed the line for years. At least seven times in 12 years he was caught driving drunk. Sometimes he paid a fine, or lost his license or even served a little jail time. But then he'd get loaded again and get behind the wheel. LaRue is a prototype of a chronic offender, an alcoholic who was not deterred by law or shamed by opinion.
Loopholes allow repeat DWI offenders to stay on the road
Last year Blake Andrew Costello recorded his third drunken-driving conviction, this time for an accident that killed a Kansas City man and injured six persons. He had a license the day of the accident only because his two Iowa drunken-driving convictions didn't count against him in Missouri. Costello's case demonstrates how complex records procedures sometimes benefit repeat drunken drivers.
High-profile tragedy shows the problems a state line can create
Anthony Lamar Fields killed a young family of three one year ago Christmas Day. The crash led to his first official driving-while-intoxicated conviction, but it was not the first time he drove while drunk. How he avoided a DWI record before that Christmas crash illustrates the difference that two one-hundredths of a percent makes -- that's the difference between drunkenness in Kansas and drunkenness in Missouri.

PART TWO

Springfield, Mo.
Wendy Yang/The Star
Springfield Police Officer Darren Whisnant arrests a man after he blew a .126 blood-alcohol content after being pulled over for an unilluminated rear license plate.
States with lax laws risk loss of highway funds
Missouri drunken drivers kill and maim at a horrifying rate, and critics say that for years state lawmakers have done little to stop them. Now legislators face an ultimatum from Congress to toughen the state's laws against drunken driving or lose millions in federal highway construction money.
Springfield sets the pace in fight against drunken driving
Springfield is a city with zero tolerance for drunken driving. It's the only jurisdiction in Missouri that confiscates repeat offenders' cars, and its hard-line approach may offer a model for other cities.
Family's tragedy, prosecutor's determination lead to tougher sentences
Kenneth Pembleton -- a high school dropout with long blond hair, a cross tattooed on his forearm and a drinking problem -- changed Missouri law. His story started on April 11, 1996, just south of Mexico, Mo., and just after he and a friend had downed about a case of beer. Pembleton already had been busted five times for drunken driving, and his license was revoked.
County adapts anti-drug court program to treat alcoholics
Two years ago, a Buchanan County judge gave Eddie Venneman a choice: serve 120 days in prison and finish a yearlong treatment program under constant court supervision -- or spend four years in prison. Buchanan County is the first Missouri county to use the drug court model for drunken drivers.
Prison programs give addicts 'A new beginning'
Bright rays of September sun shimmered off the large brass doors that open only every two months -- a portal into another world. From behind the doors stepped nine men in crisp gray uniforms. They filed beneath a new inscription: "Through these doors of brass, a better class of men shall pass." It was commencement at Missouri's Maryville Treatment Center, an intense prison program for alcohol and drug offenders.





All content 1999 The Kansas City Star