It’s heartening that the New Year starts with the toughening of Montana DUI laws (Jan. 1 Missoulian front page). At another level, it’s shameful that Montana’s impaired drivers were so incredibly coddled for so long.

Delving into Montana code, it becomes apparent that the right to drive seems a close cousin to the right to keep and bear arms. It takes a lot — I mean a lot — to have someone get their driver’s license yanked.

But wait — haven’t we always been told that driving is a privilege, not a right? True, one must initially pass a test to be licensed. But it takes some strong hands to pry that license out of your pocket once there.

Using a sports analogy, imagine you’re an offensive lineman. And during one game you decide to tackle your own quarterback. First time, the coach yells at you. Second and third time: he benches you for a few plays then for the game. It takes a fourth time or more before you’re off the team!

Providing for the possibility of even a third DUI conviction, not to mention a fifth, shines a spotlight on our horribly inadequate level of accountability for motorists.

Gene Schmitz,


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