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New Montana Law Ramps Up Penalties for Multiple DUI Convictions

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Photo courtesy of dotpolka/Flickr

After a signature from Governor Steve Bullock on April 26, House Bill 355 is now law in Montana. The law makes it easier for authorities to prosecute drivers with multiple DUI convictions more severely.

“It tackles the problem of repeat DUI offenders,” said Deputy Attorney General for the State of Montana Jon Bennion. “Under the old law, the DUI offender who spaces his crimes out by five or more years continues to get charged with a first DUI. This actually changes that law to allow a judge to look back 10 years for a second offense, and allows them to look back for a lifetime for a third or subsequent offense. If you get a third DUI at any time in your life, you will be charged with at third DUI.”

The hope is that the new law will get people the help they need, and start sending the right message about the dangers of substance abuse and driving.

“Under current law you can’t get anybody into a successful treatment program like the 24/7 program unless they’ve had a second or a subsequent offense,” Bennion said. “This will allow more people to get into successful programs, so we don’t see people getting their fifth, eighth or 12th DUI like you currently hear about on the radio.”

House Bill 355 is the second piece of landmark DUI legislation to be signed by Governor Bullock and win support from Attorney General Tim Fox. House Bill 168 signed early in the session made legal standards for THC (a chemical compound found in marijuana) impairment and prosecution.

Deputy Attorney General for the State of Montana Jon Bennion

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