The Montana Legislature earlier this year passed a law that will save lives, and it got its first chance to do just that in Hill County two weeks ago.
The law allows police to get a search warrant to obtain a blood sample from suspected drunken drivers. The blood can be tested to determine if the driver is over .08 percent blood alcohol content, If so, the driver violates the state's drunken driving laws and can be charged.
The first case in Hill County involved a driver who had already had 10 — yes, 10 — drunken driving convictions. The driver was involved in a mid-afternoon accident.
He refused to submit to a breath test or to provide a blood sample, as is his right. But Havre police invoked their rights and went to court to get a warrant.
The driver was well over the legal limit, the tests showed. Police charged him with driving under the influence.
The blood test will make it much easier for prosecutors when they take the case to court.
The law was one of several anti-DUI laws passed by the lawmakers during the last session. All Hill County lawmakers voted for the law allowing judges to require blood samples. They should be praised for their actions.
Unfortunately, the votes were not unanimous, and pathetically, one lawmaker protested that the anti-DUI laws were bad for the tavern business.
But in general, the lawmakers and the public at-large are beginning to take a tougher look at the drunken-driving problem. The boys-will-be-boys attitude that for so long dominated Montana culture and Montana politics is beginning to fade away.
The new laws take the handcuffs off police officers who try to make our streets and highways safer.
More needs to be done, but the tougher rules have already taken one dangerous driver off the roads.
The public should be keeping an eye on the case of the driver with 11 DUIs to make sure he gets swift, severe punishment.