Montana Legislators Push for Tougher DUI Laws

Anyone who follows the news in Montana knows that DUI laws are near the top of the legisture’s agenda for this session. The Flathead Beacon details the proposals by Kalispell Representative Steve Lavin to toughen DUI laws in Flathead County and the rest of Montana. One of his proposals would require repeat drunken drivers to submit to breath tests, twice a day, to prevent them from drinking. For those convicted to two or more DUIs in Montana, these tests (ideally 12 hours apart) would be mandatory. Those who fail the test could be subject to arrest and jail. The idea is based on programs which have been instituted in South Dakota and in Lewis and Clark County.

The bill requires that offenders pay for the testing themselves. According to the article, this would come to about $2 per test. But I have to wonder how these figures are calculated. If every resident of Flathead County who has been convicted of two or more DUIs was required to visit the Sheriff’s office twice a day for UI test, I believe the impact would be very significant. The cost of an individual test may be about $2. But how much will it cost the County in terms of man power to supervise and administrate. Will the $2 cover the hiring of additional personnel? I doubt it.

As the article points out, cries to amend Montana DUI laws are a common theme in every legislative session. But the tragedies of the last year may finally result in some major changes.

Bigfork, MT DUI Attorney

As a native of Bigfork myself, I understand what it’s like to be caught on the outskirts of “town.” Surrounded by incorporated cities, the village of Bigfork occupies an interesting place in Flathead County’s legal landscape. Unlike Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and Polson, which all have their own city courts, Bigfork is (legally speaking) just a part of the county. And depending on how you define Bigfork’s boundaries, you may find yourself in Flathead or Lake county.

A DUI in Bigfork will be prosecuted in a county court (meaning Justice Court or District Court) in either Flathead or Lake County. As I have discussed before, whether a DUI is in Justice Court or District Court generally comes down to how many prior convictions a person has and whether this offense is a felony DUI or misdemeanor. And remember, the DUI conviction does not have to be from Montana. Drunk driving convictions from other states will count as well.

The important thing to remember, is that driving in Bigfork is no different than driving anywhere else in Montana. Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law in unincorporated townships and metropolitan cities alike. If you have been accused of Driving Under the Influence in Bigfork, it is important that you protect yourself and your rights. I can help. Call today for a free initial consultation to discuss your specific situation with a DUI attorney who can give you information and guidance.