As a candidate for Justice of the Peace, Department 1, Missoula County, I have followed most of Karen Orzech's observations and recommended remedies relating to our DUI problem. Generally, I concur with her assessment of the situation, but I submit what I feel may be a sure-fire solution.
First, for those addicted to alcohol, treatment must be commenced without delay. Second, in order to carry out the treatment order, the Justice Courts, or at least one of them, must be made a "court of record" (see 3-10-1 O1 (5) MCA, and 3-10-118 MCA), and this court will handle all DUI cases from the third offense forward.
Third, rather than a DUI court, which would be very costly, a probation and parole officer could be employed, having the authority of a peace officer, to monitor the offender and report, with the offender, to the court on a monthly basis. If the offender defaults on the conditions of probation or parole, the aforesaid officer could arrest him, charging him with whatever offense he has thus committed and bring the offender before the court.
Fourth, on the third DUI within a year, the vehicle being driven would be forfeited to the county and sold. The proceeds would be earmarked for the DUI program outlined above. It would make no difference who the legal or equitable owner of the vehicle may be, it would be forfeited forthwith!
Fifth, as with many other states, the justice court's criminal punishment authority should be increased to a fine of $1,000, one year in jail, or both.
Enact the recommendations outlined above, and it is my considered opinion that the DUI problem would be greatly diminished, a separate DUI court unnecessary and the taxpayers and the driving public would be the beneficiaries.
Lawrence C. Reichelt, Missoula