MISSOULA — We’re persevering with our take a look at Montana’s drunk driving legal guidelines and if they’re efficient sufficient to maintain us secure on the highway.
Information from the Montana Division of Justice from 2019 reveals that 58% of all fatalities have been the results of impaired driving. If there’s any excellent news right here, it’s that that quantity is down from 64% from the yr earlier than. Nonetheless, as a state, our observe report for drunk driving deaths is dismal.
MTN Information just lately informed you a few bill introduced by Florence State Representative Sharon Greef that may have imposed extra penalties for a second DUI conviction. The measure was tabled within the Home Judiciary Committee however there’s one other piece of laws that’s nonetheless alive in Helena.
Republican Consultant Invoice Mercer of Billings is sponsoring House Bill 115 that he believes might maintain people who find themselves continually driving drunk off the roads by requiring jail time and giving judges extra sentencing choices.
“And I am hopeful that we’ll find yourself getting a compulsory minimal punishment imposed. However this time, we’ve hooked up it to a seventh DUI offense,” Mercer defined. “And a few individuals are going to hearken to that and say ‘wow.’ It’s ludicrous to assume that that’s the one time which we’re assured somebody goes to get a time period that assigns them to jail. “I’ll say the remainder of the invoice is designed to present the courts extra flexibility for the fifth and sixth offense, so judges are going to have extra instruments beneath the invoice than they’ve proper now.”
Mercer informed MTN Information that about 70% of those that get one DUI conviction by no means get one other however he added there are 50-to-60 folks a yr in our state who’re getting a fifth and sixth conviction — or much more.
Drunk driving legal guidelines are sometimes sophisticated and there are issues like prices and civil liberties to be thought of. It’s not a problem that’s being ignored however it’s one the place many really feel that as a state, we now have not discovered the reply but.
“This can be a big downside, and it looks like each session we spent a big period of time speaking about what ought to we be doing in a different way but the arc of that curve is actually not being affected,” Mercer stated. “And I’m actually not saying that simply because we’re going to be sending this class of repeat offenders to jail that this downside goes to go away.”
“I believe it’s a part of the reply and we should proceed to attempt to do extra in the way in which of public service bulletins extra in the way in which of therapy court docket choices and difficult messaging I believe for people who find themselves getting a second and a 3rd in a method,” Mercer continued. “Clearly no matter we now have been doing has not been working up so far,” Mercer concluded.
The final time he sponsored an analogous invoice, it made it to Governor Steve Bullock’s desk and was vetoed. The governor stated on the time it was a well-intentioned invoice however was a step backward, expensive and will restrict therapy choices for offenders.
Mercer’s invoice is continuous to work its method by the present legislative session in Helena. We’ll maintain observe of the measure to see how far it goes.