Drivers moving barriers on closed roads

Actions could lead to fines or jail time

COLUMBIA, Mo. - People are moving barriers on closed roads as floodwaters stick around in mid-Missouri, according to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

"If there's a flood, there's people moving barriers," said MoDOT District Maintenance Engineer Jason Shafer. "And I don't quite understand it, but it is a given."

According to the MoDOT traveler's map, Highway 40 just past Rocheport was closed Tuesday evening. But the barriers on the road are several feet apart, allowing drivers to go through.

"We put those up there for a reason," Shafer said. "We don't put them there for entertainment purposes or any other reason. We put those up there because there is a hazard."

Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop F spokesman Scott White said first responders are sent out to rescue people who drive through barriers and get stuck in water.

"A lot of drowning victims are would-be rescuers," White said.

But one problem MSHP troopers said they often see are people who don't know the roads are closed because someone moved the barrier.

MoDOT said workers patrol closed roads, but there are too many roads to keep an eye on them all the time. But Shafer said he recommends drivers check the MoDOT map if they are not sure whether a road is closed.

White said you can get a fine if you are caught moving a barrier, but the fine depends on the county.

Boone County Assistant Prosecutor Chris Shelton said the amount of a fine depends on how law enforcement refers it to the courts.

The most common fine is a little over $100. This is when officers refer the ticket as a traffic issue. But Shelton said troopers can also call it a misdemeanor, such as stealing. But if someone dies as a result of moving a barricade, Shelton said it could be considered a felony.

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