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Montana Rep. Says DUI Laws Are 'Destroying a Way of Life'

Mar 31, 2011 – 3:47 PM
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Ben Muessig

Ben Muessig Contributor

There are victims of drunken driving. And, according to one Montana legislator, there are victims of drunken driving laws.

While speaking out against a proposed bill that would make DUI laws more strict for repeat offenders, state Rep. Alan Hale, R–Basin, said drunken driving regulations hurt local businesses and are "destroying a way of life."

"These DUI laws are not doing our small businesses in our state any good at all. They are destroying them," he said in a speech on the state House floor. "They are destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years."

Hale, who, according to his campaign website, runs a bar in Basin, says pubs are important gathering places in his rural Montana district -- important gathering places that are only accessible by car.

"These taverns and bars in these smaller communities connect people together," the first-term lawmaker said in a statement publicized by the Montana news blog The Lowdown.

"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."

Current Montana regulations establish a five-year "look-back period" for drunken driving offenses. The new bill, which passed the state House 88-12, extends the cutoff to 10 years, giving authorities a greater ability to crack down on repeat offenders.

On his campaign site, Hale describes himself as a "fiscal conservative" who "would propose cuts in spending, taxes and most importantly, regulation."

But drunken driving laws are one kind of regulation that Hale shouldn't be looking to cut, according to the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

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"It's crazy to make a statement like they are hurting small businesses," MADD National President Laura Dean-Mooney told AOL News.

"He needs to do a little more fact checking before he makes statements like that and insults those who have lost loved ones to drunk driving."

Dean-Mooney said laws that extend "look-back periods" are generally good ways to keep dangerous drivers off the road.

Hale could not be reached for further comment by AOL News deadline.

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