Missoula OKs Fine for Refusing Breath, Blood Test

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – The Missoula City Council has overwhelmingly approved an ordinance that makes it a misdemeanor crime for drunken driving suspects to refuse to submit to a breath or blood alcohol test.

The council voted 10-1 Monday night to set a $500 mandatory fine for a first offense. The ordinance says a court cannot waive or suspend any portion of the fine.

Councilman Dave Strohmaier, who sponsored the ordinance, says it won’t completely fix drunken driving, but it will close a loophole for suspected drunk drivers. Councilman Jon Wilkins was the only member to vote against the measure, saying it tramples on civil liberties.

The ordinance takes effect immediately because the council adopted it as an “emergency” measure.

Under state law, drivers who refuse a breath test lose their licenses for six months, but they can appeal to have them reinstated for work purposes.

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