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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Law helps Mo. families honor DUI victims

DavidsLawsign

If your loved one was killed by an intoxicated driver, you can now apply to have an official sign placed at the crash site, thanks to legislation passed last year. It's called David's Law, and is named for David Poenicke, who was killed in a 1984 crash on Interstate 270 near St. Louis. His younger sister, Gail Rehme, campaigned for the law, a process that took about three years in Jeff City. Poenicke's sign, the first, was put up yesterday.

The signs are an alternative to the roadside memorials that you might see along Missouri highways. Those displays technically aren't allowed under law, though MODoT tends to leave them alone unless it's a safety issue, outreach coordinator Melissa Black says.

Getting a sign costs $600, and you have to fill out an application. The sign includes the victim's initials and the date of the wreck. (Rehme, who helped come up with the language for the sign, suggested initials only so that victims' families wouldn't be harassed.) The program is only for victims of DUI wrecks, not for those who perished in other kinds of crashes.

Poenicke's sister founded a group, Who's Next, that's trying to raise money to help others pay for signs. "If people want (a sign) there's no reason they shouldn't get one just because of money." She'd like to see a law that forces the intoxicated driver to help pay the $600 fee. The fee, by the way, helps pay for maintenance and upkeep for 10 years -- the sign can be renewed after that.

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