Montana Department of Transportation

MDT News

Got A Sober Driver For Superbowl?

January 22, 2014 

MDT Contact: Charity Watt, Montana Department of Transportation.

Got a sober driver for Superbowl? 
New Year’s Eve caution should last all year

HELENA, Mont – Another of the biggest party days of the year is
coming up, just a few weeks after New Year’s festivities. The
question is, will Montana drivers show the same wariness about
getting a DUI on Superbowl Sunday as they did on December 31? 
According to the Montana Department of Transportation, officers are
on alert for impaired drivers all year long.  

When off-duty Trooper Doug Samuelson overheard a bar patron in
downtown Bozeman report staying at a hotel rather than risk a DUI on
New Year’s Eve, one thought came to his mind: maybe the message is
finally getting through. 

“After overhearing that conversation, I felt our DUI enforcement
efforts are making an impact. People are making better decisions not
to drink and drive,” said Samuelson. Reports from around the state
appear to show a high awareness of DUI enforcement on New Year’s Eve.

Along with other law enforcement across Montana, the Montana Highway
Patrol increased patrols from December 13, 2013 through January 5,
2014. During that time, MHP alone booked 137 DUI arrests statewide.
That compares to 170 DUI arrests by the Montana Highway Patrol during
the same calendar period last year. 

“The statewide conversation related to drinking and driving has been
elevated significantly in the past two legislative sessions, and I
think we’re starting to see the benefits,” said Montana Highway
Patrol Colonel Tom Butler.  “I hope the data continues to show
positive numbers for both a decrease in DUI arrests and alcohol
related fatalities.”  

A decision to use a room key instead of a car key may have meant one
less DUI arrest in Gallatin County at the New Year—where the Gallatin
County Sheriff reported three total DUIs. In Cascade County, the
growth of free-ride programs helped keep DUI arrests to zero. 

“Strong enforcement of Montana’s impaired driving laws is crucial to
saving lives. But we are also grateful for other community partners
who help support the message that it is not okay to drink and get
behind the wheel,” summarized Mike Tooley, Montana Department of
Transportation Director.

Tooley explained that enforcement is key to moving toward the goal of
Zero Deaths on Montana roads. 

“If most people know about extra patrols on New Year’s Eve, the next
step is for them to understand law enforcement is also out there for
the Superbowl, St. Patrick’s Day and every other time they might make
the mistake of drinking and driving,” said Tooley. 

“Education, emergency response and engineering are the other factors
that will achieve the Zero Death goal,” he added.  

Funding for overtime law enforcement is provided by the Montana
Department of Transportation. Find out more about planning for a safe
ride home and the penalties for DUI at