DUI punishments for repeat offenders could increase

Impaired driving is an epidemic which not only plagues Montana, but the country as well. To fight this, lawmakers in Helena have been working on a new bill aimed at harsher punishments for repeat offences.

According to the national institute for highway safety nearly 30 people every day die because of drunk driving in the U.S.  alone. It isn’t out of the ordinary for a person charged with one dui to become a repeat offender.

That's where the Montana state legislature steps in. Today the senate agreed on a bill which would increasing penalties for the 5th and any more dui offenses. Folks we spoke to say there needs to be change

“I think something needs to be done because it is definitely a problem for us. I understand making a mistake one time thinking they were sober when they weren’t. But these repeat offenders there is no doubt about it they knew what they were doing,” said Sonny Harrell.

In the verbiage the bill states people could face 2-3 years in prison and a higher fine close to 10 thousand dollars. But opponents of the bill say jail time is not an effective means of stopping this from happening.

One of the things I have learned is it doesn’t help incarcerating people because they are addicted. They don't get better in jail. They get better in treatment. That could be in the context of a treatment court or in the context of a residential treatment program,” said Senator Margaret MacDonald.

The bill did pass the senate’s second reading by a 28 to 22 vote. It is currently being scheduled for its third reading before it can be sent to the governor’s desk.

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