Posted: Apr 8, 2013 8:45 PM by Irina Cates - MTN News
MISSOULA - Despite all the efforts to combat drunk driving, Missoula Police made a record number of arrests last year: 1,051. Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir says that means about 1-out-of-15 traffic stops resulted in a DUI.
"It is the highest number that the Missoula Police Department has ever had," said Muir. "In fact, I'm not certain aside from potentially the highway patrol, that there's any single agency that has ever exceed a thousand in a year, here in the State of Montana."
Muir says this record number may be attributed to enforcement. Muir says last year, two officers were able to more strictly focus on DUI enforcement than in years prior. He also says officers are now better trained in identifying drug impairment through a program called Advanced Roadside Impairment Detection and Enforcement.
"It's getting them to look beyond just the basic violation that they made that initial traffic stop for and looking for cues, like an individual for instance, not having well developed divided attention skills, not being able to follow instructions," said Muir.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock says he's closely watching the 24/7 sobriety program that he helped implement as the state Attorney General.
"We need to continue to stay vigilant and the 24/7 program is coming along," Bullock said. "Even as Governor I'm going to continue to monitor that, see where we can actually provide, first of all, the statewide voice to make sure that we stay on top of this. And also anytime that we can fill in some of the holes on the law enforcement side, we should be doing so."
Muir says although the number of DUI arrests increased, the number of DUI related crashes decreased. The State of Montana driving services officials say 6,900 DUI convictions were reported to them in 2012.