BOZEMAN – If you want a snapshot of how many people are driving drunk in Gallatin County, look at the Justice Court calendar.
In a one-week span, 5 people were arrested for DUI, 4 facing their 4th offense and one facing his 5th.
Across the state of Montana, including Bozeman, efforts are underway to reduce those numbers.
“We’re doing a lot on the back end, but to me what really needs to happen is legislation needs to get tougher,” said DUI Task Force Coordinator Kelley Parker-Wathne.
Parker-Wathne says between staff and volunteers, the task force aims to be at all social gatherings where they anticipate people drinking to hand out reminders about driving sober and offering information about finding safe rides.
Just this week her task force joined with 14 other DUI Task Forces to recommend changes in legislation for the 2019 legislative session. Suggestions include increasing the beer tax from 1.4 cents per 12 oz. can to a nickel, requiring close monitoring or ignition interlocks for all first time DUI offenders, and the use of publicized Sobriety Checkpoints.
She says on September 11, the supporting counties and other members plan to hold a rally on the Capitol steps regarding their plan.
Parker-Wathne says DUI levels appear stagnant but there’s no good data to show otherwise.
Reporting by Mallory Peebles for MTN News