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Montana Ranks Low on Drunk Driving National Rankings

“A recent report published my Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, places Montana 51st(out of the U.S. 50 states and Washington D.C.) for state efforts to curb DUIs.”

MADD’s annual Report to the Nation should be taken seriously, as it ranks Montana dead last for its lack of efforts to address drunk driving. The reviewers used these five criteria to determine a score of 0-5 stars for each state:

  1. Ignition Interlocks: the use of mandatory ignition interlocks (or in-car breathalyzers) for DUI offenders

  2. Sobriety Checkpoints: the frequency of sobriety checkpoints on state roads

  3. Administrative License Revocation: the immediate suspension of a driver’s license by law enforcement at the time of arrest or refusal for DUI

  4. Child Endangerment: misdemeanor or felony charges for driving drunk with a minor in the car

  5. Refusals: expedited warrants for alcohol tests after a suspected drunk driver refuses an on-site sobriety test

The report criticized Montana’s lack of automatic license revocation rules as well as its sparse use of sobriety checkpoints, where drivers are randomly checked for their blood alcohol content. Perhaps most importantly, Montana does not mandate ignition interlock systems (in-car breathalyzers) for all DUI offenders. These systems require a driver to breathe a 0.0 BAC before the vehicle can be started. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they reduce repeat offenses by 67 percent.

Montana was also singled out because it has the highest rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the nation with at least one driver with over the blood alcohol limit involved in 45 percent of all fatal accidents in 2016. Another 66 people lost their lives in these accidents last year. These traffic fatalities might have been prevented with tougher laws.Altogether, the state was awarded a mere 0.5 stars out of 5, ranking it last in the nation.

It can be argued that Montana’s attitudes toward drinking and driving are part of the longstanding culture. After all, we were the last state to ban open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles throughout the country. These attitudes are persistent but not immune to change. Reviews and publications, such as this report produced by MADD, bring awareness to the issue of drinking and driving in Montana, and work to change the perilous culture. To view MADD’s full report, follow this link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/tripping/wp-content/uploads/sites/51/2018/01/Campaign-Report-2018.pdf?tid=a_mcntx