Montana Law Enforcement increasing patrols during the holiday season
As the holiday season kicks off, Gallatin County law enforcement officials and the Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) are encouraging Montanans to plan for a sober ride home before celebrating.
Historically, the period between December 15 and January 1 has a high concentration of impaired driving crashes and crash fatalities. Under the Vision Zero goal, Gallatin County law enforcement, MHP and the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) are committed to reducing fatalities and serious injuries on Montana's roadways during the busy holiday season. Law enforcement partners across the state will be increasing patrols through the winter holidays and making Driving Under the Influence (DUI) arrests as part of the effort to help Montanans get home safely.
Montana law states that if drivers have a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or higher, they could be arrested and face a DUI charge and other serious consequences, including having their driver's license revoked, being required to take mandatory classes, and receiving possible jail time and up to $10,000 in fines and legal fees.
"If you're drinking during the holiday season, make a plan for a safe ride home," said Dustin Lensing, Chief of Police, Belgrade Police Department. "Winter driving conditions are dangerous enough, and adding alcohol to the mix puts everyone in danger. For yourself, your family and your community, make a plan for a sober ride before you start celebrating. Whether it's designating a sober driver or arranging to stay at a friend or family member's home if you're drinking, having that plan ensures our community stays safe."
Why is Montana law enforcement on high alert during the holiday season? These are Montana's sobering statistics:
● Montana has one of the highest fatality rates in the nation for the number of deaths caused by alcohol-impaired drivers per vehicle mile traveled.
● In the last three years, over 60% of Montana's crash fatalities have involved an impaired driver.
"Please celebrate responsibly this holiday season. Have fun, but don't drive impaired," said Montana Highway Patrol Colonel Steve Lavin. "We'll be increasing patrols throughout the holidays to make sure Montanans get home safely so they can spend time with their friends and family. Do your part and plan ahead or call for a sober ride home if you've been drinking. Together we can keep our community safe."
According to Broadwater County Sheriff Nick Rauser, DUIs are a consistent issue all year long and they have seen an increase in arrests in 2023. As far as the holidays, Rauser said there has not be a huge increase in DUI arrests that he can remember.
This is a Vision Zero message from the Montana Department of Transportation. This and other enforcement and educational campaigns are strategies to reach Vision Zero - zero deaths and zero serious injuries on Montana roadways. For more information about Vision Zero, contact Tammy Ross, Montana Department of Transportation, 406-444-9192 or [email protected].