Char-Koosta News

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Intense efforts underway to deter impaired driving

Drive sober or face serious consequences

HELENA — The holiday season means celebrations with family and friends. It also means intense efforts by law enforcement to encourage sober driving and get impaired drivers behind bars. Law enforcement agencies throughout the state will increase patrols during the holiday period from Dec. 16 through Jan.1. County sheriffs, city police and the Montana Highway Patrol are urging motorists to drive sober and ask their friends and family to drive sober, too.

“Montana’s new traffic safety goal “Toward Zero Deaths” leaves no room for impaired driving,” said Mike Tooley, Montana Department of Transportation Director. “Strong enforcement of Montana’s impaired driving laws is an important part of achieving this goal and saving lives.”

A change in Montana’s DUI laws this year provides added reason for drinkers to think twice before getting behind the wheel. The new law allows judges to look back ten years to add penalties for a second DUI. The previous look-back period ended at five years.

“The law is designed to crack down on multiple DUI offenders,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “Occasional drinkers could also face potentially stiffer penalties based on their record.”

Both Director Tooley and Attorney General Fox encourage everyone to have transportation arranged before the celebrations begin. Designate a sober driver, arrange for a sober friend for transport to and from the event, or even stay the night at the party location. If you choose to walk keep in mind potential extreme weather and make sure you have a safe route that avoids traffic.

Citizens can also play a part in keeping dangerous drivers off the road by calling 9-1-1 immediately. Law enforcement patrols follow up on these tips.

Funding for overtime law enforcement is provided by the Montana Department of Transportation as part of an overall goal to reduce motor vehicle deaths and injuries. Find out more about planning for a safe ride home and the penalties for DUI at www.plan2live.mt.gov.

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