The Montana Legislature may convene only every other year for a few months, but they are making it count!
A little background—the Law and Justice Interim Committee (LJIC) is a joint bipartisan committee that meets between legislative sessions, and during the 2009-2010 interim, the committee set as its top priority the study of Montana’s DUI laws. In a comprehensive report to the 62nd Legislature, the LJIC included specific recommendations for preventing underage drinking, strengthening treatment and supervision, revising criminal procedures, and enacting new laws.
Those recommendations—now transformed into a large and diverse legislative package—are the topic of fruitful discussion. In the past two days, the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have conducted hearings on nearly twenty bills. The Century Council was pleased to submit proponent testimony and letters of support for four of these bills:
SB 15- Establishes the offense of aggravated DUI with penalties for high BAC drivers (we recommend .15 BAC as the high BAC threshold.)
SB 39- Expands the powers of park rangers and game wardens, allowing them to issue Minors in Possession (MIP) citations. This would allow those officers of the law to issue citations for violations they find happening on the 30 million acres of the state they patrol.
HB 12- Extends the maximum possible jail sentence for certain DUI offenders.
HB 14- Eliminates the five-year look back period, improving identification of repeat offenders for purposes of license suspension and sentencing upon conviction of DUI.
The Century Council continues to monitor these, and other related bills, that will strengthen Montana’s drunk driving and underage drinking laws.