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Youthful Drivers Involved In High Percentage Of Crashes

The DUI Task Force was informed that Roosevelt County was ranked sixth in Montana in 2017 for the number of crashes involving drivers younger than age 21 — both impaired and non-impaired — during the March meeting at the James E. Shanley Tribal Library in Poplar.
Roosevelt County also had the highest percentage of crashes that involved impaired driving by motorists of any age at 38 percent. That percentage has increased from 29.3 percent since 2008.
Among youthful drivers, Roo-sevelt County recorded 25 percent for crashes involving drivers between 18 and 20, 30.3 percent for 14-year-olds up to age 20 and 32 percent for drivers younger than 18.
“The second county had 25 percent, so it wasn’t even close,” DUI task force coordinator A.J. Allen said. The county with the second highest percentage of DUI crashes is in western Montana.
The highest percentages for impaired driving crashes in 2017 were Bainville, 50 percent; no town affiliation, 41.6 percent; Poplar 35.5 percent; Wolf Point, 34.6; and Culbertson, 20 percent.
In other business, Roosevelt County Commissioner Gary Macdonald said legislation has been introduced in the Montana House that would increase the alcohol tax to create and fund a DUI reduction grant program. A specific amount for the tax was not stated. Macdonald said he hopes he will be appointed to a board that would govern the grant program.
Allen said a Senate bill would increase the severity of DUI laws including a mandate for a blood warrant on first offenses. He said there were 355 refusals statewide to take breathalyzer tests last year.
Allen said the task force has purchased DUI awareness advertising that will run on KVCK AM and FM for St. Patrick’s Day.
Allen updated task force members on finances. Roosevelt County received $400 in driver’s license reinstatement fees in February. Previously, only $100 had been paid to the county since the beginning of the current fiscal year July 1, 2018. Allen said he expects more license reinstatement funds in April. Counties with DUI task forces receive $100 from each reinstatement fee from a state court DUI case. The annual average since the inception of the Roosevelt County DUI Task Force in 2014 has been about $1,500. A large number of Roosevelt County DUIs are Fort Peck Tribal Court cases and no reinstatement funds benefit the task force.
In another matter, Allen said the Montana Department of Revenue has a Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service training site online that is available for employees of local alcohol beverage establishments and retail stores that sell alcohol to comply with state law that requires training. Allen said there is a shortage of RASS trainers in northeast Montana and that plans for a few local people to receive the training to become trainers have been on hold since late last year.
Allen, one member of the task force and a Roosevelt County Sheriff’s deputy had planned to travel to Helena for training during fall 2018. There remains no determination about train the trainer classes or where they could be held. Allen said a possibility remains that local people might have to travel to Helena.
He said alcohol sales and service training he has been attempting to set up in Roosevelt County has been temporarily stalled due to scheduling issues. The only trainer located in northeast Montana is in Glasgow. Allen said the trainer has asked if people needing the training could travel to Glasgow.
The Roosevelt County Commissioners approved a resolution in April 2014 that established the DUI Task Force. Macdonald held regular meetings with an informal citizens group during late 2013 and early 2014 working toward the establishment of the task force.
Reimbursement of driver’s license reinstatement fees to counties that have DUI task forces and educating the public about driving under the influence, alcohol abuse, over-service of intoxicated individuals by some establishments and state mandated server training were primary reasons the commissioners approved the resolution in 2014 that established the DUI task force.
The task force meets the first Friday of most months and is comprised of representatives of local law enforcement and members of the communities. Meeting sites rotate between Wolf Point, Culbertson and Poplar.
The next meeting will be in the Roosevelt County Health Department conference room on the 100 block of Custer Street in Wolf Point Friday, April 5, at 2 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.