Do you believe that drunk drivers pose a threat to you, your family, and your friends? Although alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Montana significantly decreased in 2013, our state has a long way to go to improve its position as the state with the second highest rate of drunk driving fatalities in the nation.

These tragedies are 100 percent preventable. Drunk driving is a violent crime which leaves innocent victims in its path. Not only does it lead to senseless deaths, but also to terrible pain, suffering, permanent disabilities, and expense to victims who survive with grave injuries.

As part of the MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) campaign to eliminate drunk driving, the annual MADD “Report to the Nation” shows that Montana ranks dead last among all 50 states in legislation to address this crime.

The report lists five laws which have been found to most effectively curtail drunk driving:

 38 states and the District of Columbia participate in Sobriety Checkpoint Programs which have been proven to reduce fatalities by 20 percent. Montana is not one of the 38.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)and the National Transportation Safety Board recommend that every state enact “all-offender” Ignition Interlock laws. These laws require every convicted drunk driver, including first-time offenders, to blow into a small breathalyzer linked to the vehicle’s ignition system in order to start the car.

Research shows that first-time offenders have driven drunk at least 80 times before their first arrest!

Twenty states have enacted these laws. Montana is not one of the 20.

Administrative License Revocation laws allow the arresting officer to confiscate a driver’s license at the time of the arrest. Forty-two states have enacted these laws. Montana is not one of the 42.

Offenders who refuse blood alcohol testing are a challenge to law enforcement and courts. No-refusal laws allow the arresting officer to quickly and easily obtain a warrant to test the suspected offender. Thirty-two states have no-refusal laws on the books. Montana is not one of the 32.

Forty-six states and the District of Columbia have passed laws allowing for additional penalties for drunk drivers with a child passenger in the vehicle. Thankfully, Montana is one of the 46.

Ten states have enacted all five of the above laws; 20 states have enacted four of them. Only one state — MONTANA — has passed just ONE of these measures which have been proven nationally to be effective in reducing drunk driving and the havoc it wreaks.

Our Montana law enforcement agencies — Highway Patrol, sheriff’s offices, and city police departments — are doing a great job and are helping to decrease the incidence of alcohol-impaired driving. However, these officers cannot enforce laws which are not on the books.

Our Montana legislators should be ashamed if they lack the courage to pass these important legislative measures. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Tragically, the culture of drinking and driving continues in our state. We Montanans MUST support the legislation which will go a long way towards eliminating drunk driving.

Source: The Daily Inter Lake


Last updated on: 2014-04-22 | Link to this post