Tuesday, February 9, 2010

City poised to take on drunk drivers

Posted By on Tue, Feb 9, 2010 at 12:00 PM

In the wake of several recent high-profile drunk-driving accidents, Ward 1 Councilman Dave Strohmaier is proposing a citywide law that would make it tougher for people to evade driving under the influence charges.

“It’s incumbent upon us to act,” Strohmaier says.

Those suspected of driving under the influence who refuse a police officer’s request to submit to drug or alcohol tests currently face a six-month suspension of their driver’s license, as mandated by state law. Strohmaier proposes tacking on an additional penalty, making refusal of a drug or alcohol test within city limits a misdemeanor punishable by a $300 fine for the first offense.

“What we’re doing is adding a monetary fine that might be a little more incentive [to take the test],” Strohmaier says.

The ordinance is not yet a done deal and it could see some tweaking as it makes way through the lawmaking process. The Public Health and Safety Committee is slated to take up the issue Feb 17. From there, the Missoula City Council will visit the issue likely sometime in March. Strohmaier invites those interested to share their thoughts during the yet to be scheduled public hearing.

“I would more than welcome those ideas and suggestions,” he says.

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