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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Bill Making 3rd DUI A Felony Dies In Committee

Sen. Roger Webb, R-Billings. File photo.
Montana Legislature

Wednesday, Montana legislators killed a bill that would have made a 3rd DUI offense a felony. Under current state law, the 3rd offense has a maximum sentence of one year in jail and $5,000 fine. Under the bill, this would increase to a maximum of 5 years and $10,000 fine.

Some thought the bill would cost too much because of the added costs for state prosecutors, and the need for another treatment program for the approximate 300 Montanans who get their third DUIs each year. Montana already has two such programs, but Chief Public Defender for the state Wade Zolynski says this bill would mean the state would need more.

“Our annual capacity… is 330 individuals. In all likelihood, we would have to seat another facility.”

Senator Roger Webb sponsored Senate Bill 315, and says the costs drunken driving creates are even greater.

“A court date is an afternoon. A funeral is forever.”

The measure was tabled, essentially killing it, 10-2.

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