Havre Daily News
Beginning today, and for the next two weeks, drivers may be pulled over for safety checks at checkpoints as local and state law enforcement agencies step up their efforts to prevent drunken driving and accidents on Montana's roads.
Traffic is heaviest in the state during the end of August and Labor Day weekend, and August is often the month with the highest number of traffic fatalities, Capt. Butch Huseby of the Montana Highway Patrol's Havre District said Thursday.
"It's also the end of the tourist season for the year," Huseby added.
That's why the national "You Drink & Drive. You Lose!" campaign is being taken so seriously in Montana, which has several specific programs to support it, Huseby said.
The Highway Patrol is providing overtime pay for officers throughout the state. Over two weeks, between today and Sept. 5, the state has authorized 20 extra shifts for the Havre District, Huseby said. Safety checks will be included in that, though they have not yet been scheduled, he said.
According to protocol, when the Highway Patrol performs safety checks, they choose a spot and pull cars over at specific, preset intervals, he said.
Officers will ask drivers to show their license, registration and proof of insurance, he said.
The Havre Police Department and Hill County Sheriff's Office also will increase patrols and do safety checks, Police Chief Mike Barthel said today. Both agencies have money available through a state program to pay overtime costs, he said.
The checkpoint stops are not specifically meant to find drunken drivers, Huseby said. However, he said, "If one came in with DUI, we certainly wouldn't let them go."
The Rocky Boy Police Department will participate in the campaign. Officers will be strictly enforcing drunken driving laws, a press release said. The Rocky Boy Police Department will hold a checkpoint on Aug. 26 and Sept. 3 from 10 p.m. to midnight.
"Nobody wants the dangers associated with drunk drivers in their neighborhoods," Hill County Attorney Cyndee Peterson said in a press release. "Now it is up to us, as law enforcement and as a community, to hold people accountable."