Bullock Unveils Three-Step Legislative Package to Combat DUI in Montana Attorney General calls initiatives “simple, effective, low-cost solutions”
HELENA – Calling his plan a “simple, effective and low-cost” strategy to fight drunk driving in Montana, Attorney General Steve Bullock unveiled a three-step legislative package at a press conference on Thursday in the state capitol.
Bullock was joined in presenting the legislative proposals by Representative-elect Steve Lavin (Kalispell); Tawny Haynes, the widow of a Montana Highway Patrol Trooper killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver; and Colonel Mike Tooley, head of the Montana Highway Patrol.
“Stats from the past few years clearly show that it’s the repeat offenders who aren’t getting the message. By year’s end, we expect those being arrested for felony DUIs — meaning a fourth or subsequent offense — to go up nearly 40% this year,” Attorney General Bullock said. “They’re continuing to drive drunk and they’re putting all our lives at risk.”
“I’ll be asking to state legislature to join us in looking at these simple, effective and low-cost ways to make a real difference in our communities.”
3-STEP PLAN FOR COMBATING DUI IN MONTANA
•Statewide Implementation of the 24/7 Sobriety Project, under which anyone who is arrested for a second or subsequent DUI is required to take to a breath test twice a day, every day, and stay sober 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the time of their arrest until the completion of their sentence.
•Criminalizing Refusal and subjecting those that refuse a blood or breath test to the same criminal penalties as a motorist convicted of driving drunk.
•Creating the penalty of Aggravated DUI for those driving at 0.15 blood alcohol content or higher – nearly twice the legal limit.
A fact sheet on these proposals, including relevant statistics, is online.
Bullock introduced the 24/7 Sobriety Project as a pilot program in Lewis and Clark County earlier this year. Since May, county officials have administered over 5,000 breath tests. Over 99.9 percent of those tests have returned a BAC of 0.00 percent.
Representative-elect Lavin will carry the 24/7 Sobriety Project in the legislature.
The pilot program required twice-a-day testing for those arrested for a second or subsequent DUI as a condition of pre-trial release. Bullock’s legislative proposal would be to expand the project from the time of the offense through the end of the sentence – keeping repeat drunk drivers in the program, and sober, longer.
Bullock emphasized that in these tight budget times, these three initiatives are low-cost solutions, noting that the 24/7 Sobriety Project is paid for by the drunk driver, not the state, local governments or taxpayers. Keeping repeat offenders out of prison will also save the state millions, he added.