As Associated Press reporter Steven Dockery reported today, the House passed a proposal to toughen penalties against repeat drunk drivers:
House Bill 14 carried by Democratic Rep. Mike Menahan would let courts look back to impaired driving offenses up to 10 years old when someone is being punished for a drunk-driving charge, a change from the current five-year cutoff.
The measure, which was backed by the House on an 88-12 vote, allows courts to hit more offenders with tougher second-offense penalties, such as suspending offenders' licenses.
Rep. Alan Hale, R-Basin, was one of the 12 no votes on the measure. Hale, who according to his campaign website owns the Saddle Bar and Café in Basin, gave a passionate speech in opposition to not only HB14, but to all of the bills aimed at stiffening DUI laws. According to Hale, the DUI bills are “destroying” small businesses by preventing people from drinking and driving.
The AP story has a rather truncated quote from Hale’s opposition, so here’s the full text of Hale’s floor speech:
"These DUI laws are not doing our small businesses in our state any good at all. They are destroying them. They are destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years. These taverns and bars in these smaller communities connect people together. They are the center of the communities. I'll guarantee you there's only two ways to get there: either you hitchhike, or you drive, and I promise you they're not going to hitchhike."
Here’s the video if you watch to watch it yourself. It was posted by user Montana Democrats.