Senators Back Crackdown on Drunk Driving

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – Senators have endorsed a plan to create a new criminal charge for heavily intoxicated and repeat drunk drivers

The proposal would impose stricter punishments through a new category of driving under the influence called “aggravated DUI.”

Repeat offenders or those with a high blood alcohol well above the legal limit could be charged with aggravated DUI. The offense includes a fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year in jail.

Senate Bill 15 supporters say the measure helps repeat offenders by creating a longer period of supervision to enforce sobriety.

Republican Sen. Ryan Zinke of Whitefish argues the measure goes too far in stiffening DUI laws.

The proposal was endorsed Tuesday by a 39-11 vote. The bill faces one more largely procedural vote before heading to the House.

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