Another Post About Alcohol
Alcohol’s capacity to destroy continues to amaze me.
I’ve written posts like this one comparing the cost of trying to test for marijuana impairment while driving ($100,000!?!) vs. the negative economic impact alcohol has in Montana. I’ve actually written more than a few posts about different aspects of alcohol, sometimes political, sometimes human interest.
Like, we humans should be interested in something that so consistently fucks up so many people’s lives.
One of the problems of addressing alcohol’s many consequences—like the too often fatal results of driving while intoxicated—is that those in positions of political power sometimes have their own personal struggles managing their behavior while under the influence.
In May of this year, when a sheriff’s deputy responded to a complaint of an erratic driver, and that driver identified himself as state senator Shannon Augare, then fled the scene, the fallout was political, and predictable. People like Bob Brigham sent out tweets like this:
The Deputy (from racist department) was trying to illegally steal his car keys & had no jurisdiction to keep him.
All things considered, the sheriff’s deputy made a good choice to not further escalate the already dangerous situation by pursuing Augare. I’m not sure “car jacking” is a really accurate description of this deputy’s response.
Last month, federal prosecutors got involved.
And earlier this evening, Marnee Banks reported that Augare was asked to step back from his interim committee work:
HELENA – Montana Senate leadership has asked Senator Shannon Augare (D-Browning) to step back from his legislative duties while his federal DUI case is pending.
Augare was absent from the Wednesday meeting of the Law and Justice committee held at the Capitol.
The committee is charged with overseeing the Montana Department of Justice and has been instrumental in cracking down on drinking and driving.
Augare has been charged with obstructing a peace officer, driving under the influence of alcohol, and reckless driving after a controversial traffic stop in May.
Senate President Jeff Essmann (R-Billings) called the charges “serious” and says he does not think it’s appropriate for Augare to participate in interim work.
Democrats are just going to have to take the political hits on this one. Because Rehberg. And because of problematic tribal sovereignty issues, like whether or not tribes should report DUIs that occur on tribal lands. For Shannon Augare, that issue is also a part of this story:
HELENA — Months before a state senator and Blackfeet leader allegedly fled a sheriff’s deputy who suspected him of drunken driving, a tribal judge expunged two DUI convictions from the record of the senator’s brother and said the tribe shouldn’t have reported them to the state.
Those erased convictions by Chief Judge Allie Edwards had the effect of reducing a felony charge to a misdemeanor in the case of Shawn Augare, who had been facing his fourth DUI for a stop on Dec. 31, 2011, in Glacier County off the reservation.
As a result, District Judge Laurie McKinnon — now a state Supreme Court justice — ordered Augare on Nov. 14 to pay a $400 fine for his new DUI misdemeanor conviction instead of a possible sentence of 13 months with the Department of Corrections for felony DUI.
Neither fines, nor jail time, nor extended periods of incarceration seem to be effective. I wonder if an effective use of ignition interlock devices would be effective, but of course that could get expensive.
And really, that would just be another swipe at a symptom. Substance abuse itself is often a symptom masking deeper afflictions.