Remember this Week, Montanans

by jhwygirl

Let’s see the legislature avoid stricter DUI laws now. Is this state still going to facilitate the Montana drinking culture, or have we had enough yet?

I was looking on the jail roster for Missoula’s detention center. I quit counting at fourteen the number of offenders incarcerated on their fourth DUI.

Fourth? Don’t public defenders have enough to do? Good Lord – its as if my tax dollars are being spent to condone this culture of alcohol.

Those fourth time offenders were driving the streets of Missoula, folks. The streets of Montana. Just think of what the cops don’t get at.

Make no mistake – this is no “faux moral outrage,” as was the accusation during the Barkus Rehberg Flathead Lake Drunken Boating Accident this past summer. When we look at the issue as “something for the courts,” or “not a big deal,” instead of something that destroys innocent lives, we are part of the enabling of the next death or accident.

We’re not done with the year yet, either…please, people – take advantage of cabs and friends and all kinds of free rides offered out there right now.

So many lives shattered. Horrible and tragic. Sad and unnecessary.

  1. goof houlihan

    You’ve got mail. And you’re right. Strike three and you lose whatever car you’re driving in drunk , forever, and get an ankle bracelet, and after that, you lose any car you get caught driving in drunk and get an ever increasing ankle bracelet time, until ya finally go off to the big house.

  2. goof houlihan

    BTW, that’s how it oughta be, not how it is. Right now it’s “we can’t put these people in our over crowded prison”. Yes, that’s true, but ignition locks and ankle bracelets and vehicle forfeitures are certainly possible.

  3. People should be more responsible and confine their drinking habits that of the floor of the U.S. Senate

  4. Grammar correction: “confine their drinking habits to that of the floor of the U.S. Senate”


  5. Thomas Paine

    You’re looking at the wrong branch of government. Sure, the MT Legislature can tighten the DUI laws even further, but the real problem is that the officers of the court (police, judges, and prosecutors) don’t take this problem seriously.

    Moreover, the voters don’t hold this group, especially judges, accountable. Let ‘Em Loose Loudon received an even greater percentage of votes in the last election than Engen.

    The laws exist today to seriously address this behavior. Point the finger where it belongs: at judges who don’t take this problem seriously when it’s the first and second offense, at prosecutors who cut deals to ensure conviction rates, and at police who fail to immediately arrest people who flee the scene so timely evidence can be collected, as they failed to do last summer when the vehicle in the S. Reserve hit-and-run was identified at the scene but the driver was allowed to wait until the next morning to turn himself in.

    One other thing. It’s absolutely obscene how lenient the laws are for people who kill others with their vehicles. That’s one area where the legislature could greatly improve how society treats being negligent with a powerful force that easily maims and kills.

    Operating a motor vehicle on the public way is a privilege, not a right. It’s time the courts acknowledged this. And if someone’s stupidity means they have to get up extra early in the morning to either walk or take the bus to work, tough shit. It’s the least they deserve.

    • JC

      You know, as long as we rely on punitive measures alone to deal with the problem of drunken driving, we’re not going to get anywhere.

      Montana has a cultural issue with drinking, and drinking and driving. All the punitive measures in the world won’t stop people from getting killed by drunk drivers. It may reduce the numbers, which is desirable, but that’s not where the problem lies.

      Until the libertarian-mindedness of this state’s residents comes to embrace the notion that drinking, and drinking and not driving is an issue of personal responsibility and a moral imperative, nothing will change, culturally.

      With libertarianism comes an implicit requirement for personal responsibility. Unfortunately, that equation is terribly unbalanced in Montana. Authoritarianism is a poor, though understandable and reactionary, substitute for undisciplined libertarianism.

      But ultimately, authoritarianism is more concerned with punishment than prevention, revenge than compassion. And it ultimately fails every time another innocent person dies at the hands of a drunk.

      Parents, it starts at home. Teach your children to be responsible. That it is not ok to drink and get behind the wheel of a car, boat or plane. That irresponsible drinking inevitably leads to one form of tragedy or another. The piper will always get his pay, even if it comes in the form of another alcohol related accident and/or death.

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