Independence day is coming quickly and preparations are already underway to help make sure Montanans can enjoy the holiday in safety.

Along with added DUI patrols through the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, Charity Watt from The Montana Department of Transportation says that even the bags handed out at fireworks stands this year will carry a safety message.

"They say 'We the people – don’t drink and drive. Secure the blessings of life and liberty. Drive sober. Designate a driver. Buckle up. Every time, everyone. Be safe this Fourth of July,'" Watt explained.

The message is an important one as Montana approaches a holiday that usually brings with it a spike in vehicle accidents.

"We definitely have an increase in crashes," Watt said. "I can tell you that we estimate, based on a five year average, that more than 300 people will be injured in crashes during the two weeks around the 4th of July holiday."

DUI's carry a high cost, first time offenders can expect fines between five and six thousand dollars, with fees above ten thousand for accidents that involve physical injury. Of course, the highest cost in drunk driving crashes is the loss of life. According to the state's DMV website, 40 percent of all vehicle deaths in Montana involve the use of alcohol.

Photo courtesy of Montana DoT