Keep the party off the road this weekend.
That’s the word to fans of the Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats from Sgt. Chad Dever of the Montana Highway Patrol.
He said troopers, the Missoula Police Department and Missoula County Sheriff’s Office will be adding patrols starting Friday to keep a watch for drivers who are impaired so they can keep the roads safe for everyone.
“We’ll be on the city streets and in the backroads enforcing the DUI and safety belt laws,” Dever said.
In Montana, he said, 50 percent of fatal crashes involve alcohol. And the Montana Department of Transportation, which funds the extra patrols, notes that highway fatalities are worse this year compared to last year.
“There have been 45 crashes and 49 deaths where alcohol was a factor,” reads an agency fact sheet. “This is an increase of more than 30 percent over last year at this time.”
The city of Missoula also will ramp up enforcement, and it encourages people who plan to drink alcohol to select designated drivers or call Yellow Cab at 543-6644, Green Taxi at 728-8294, or Ucallus at 880-1673; bar patrons also may ask if an establishment is a member of Home Safe Missoula.
The city and Missoula Police Department also remind people to be considerate in their neighborhoods. Forgetting to do so could mean consequences, according to a news release.
“People planning to have house parties should please keep their neighbors in mind,” reads the release from the city. “If neighbors call 9-1-1 about a loud party, responding officers can and will cite and make arrests if appropriate.”
Dever said this is the first year MHP is dispatching a special team of troopers to high-risk events across the state. The Traffic Safety Enforcement Team aims to be highly visible, keep the traveling public safe, and reduce fatal and serious crashes.
“We’re working more nights and aggressively enforcing the DUI laws as opposed to just working high-crash areas throughout a day,” Dever said.
To help people plan ahead, he said MHP wants to get the word out that it will be making many traffic stops. As a professional who responds to harrowing scenes on Montana roads, he said he’d like to deter as many wrecks as possible.
“It’s very frustrating to get on a scene after the fact. So many times, you think, if we only could have prevented this in the first place,” Dever said.
Reporter Keila Szpaller can be reached at @KeilaSzpaller, 523-5262, firstname.lastname@example.org or on MissoulaRedTape.com.