With Christmas just days away and the New Year approaching, the Missoula Police Department told KGVO on Wednesday morning that extra patrols will be out looking for impaired drivers.

Sergeant Mike Hebert provides details.

“The holidays have arrived and as you make plans to celebrate with friends and family, also make plans to have a safe ride home by designating a sober driver or using a ride share service,” said Sergeant Hebert. “Don't spend your holidays in jail or worse in an ambulance. Increased patrols in Missoula will be out in force in the week leading up to Christmas and through the New Year's holiday, watching for impaired drivers and educating motorists as part of their commitment to keeping Montana roads safe for everyone.”

Hebert provided sobering statistics as we approach the close of the year.

“In data collected by the Montana Department of Transportation as of December 13th, 2021, there have been 231 lives lost compared to 198 fatalities for the same period in 2020. Of those deaths, 130 had been due to impaired driving and 118 had been due to improper restraint, or the lack of seat belts.”

Hebert stated the obvious that the holidays can be distracting, and asks drivers to be focused on safety.

“The holidays are a wonderful time for everyone to enjoy, unfortunately they can also be a deadly time for some Montana families,” he said. “It's up to all of us to celebrate responsibly and that means never driving impaired, always wearing your seatbelt and making sure your friends and family do the same.”

Hebert said the consequences of being arrested on a DUI charge can be devastating.

“The consequences of drunk driving include a DUI on your record, a revoked driver's license, mandatory classes, possible jail time, probation and up to $10,000 in fines,” he said. “Please report suspected impaired drivers by dialing 911 and always wear your seatbelt, as it continues to be the best defense against impaired drivers.”

Missoula Police, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and the Montana Highway Patrol are all cooperating in the extra holiday patrols.

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