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The 2019 Montana Legislature failed to pass legislation addressing several key impaired driving issues that affect your safety. One is that 70 percent of first time Montana DUI suspects, or twice the national average, refuse to take a breathalyzer test and then demand costly and unnecessary trials hoping the state will not have adequate evidence to prove their guilt without breathalyzer evidence. Why do we allow this and needlessly tie the hands of our courts and law enforcement that are trying to protect us from impaired drivers?

Senate Bill 65 would have allowed law enforcement officers to seek a warrant allowing blood to be drawn to determine blood alcohol levels from first time offenders refusing a breathalyzer test. They can already do this for second- or higher-DUI suspects. Why not for first time DUI suspects?

Impaired drivers annually cost the citizens of Montana about $230 million for the more than 100 people killed and 900 injured and 2,000-plus vehicles involved in these crashes. In Yellowstone County alone about 19 people are killed and nearly 200 people injured every year in crashes involving impaired drivers.

Ask your state legislators to support and fund bills to reduce DUI-involved crashes. Ask them to correct for inflation our beer and wine taxes that have not changed since 1997 and 1985 respectively. For more information on impaired driving in our state go to zeroduideaths.org and read the “2018 Montana DUI Survey Analysis.”

Ronald Yates

Great Falls

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