Montana, other states to step up I-90 patrols this weekend
Posted on May 21

By ALLISON MAIER for the Missoulian

Anyone driving on Montana, Idaho and Washington highways over Memorial Day weekend should expect to see an increase in traffic patrols, particularly along Interstate 90, to match the higher volume of travelers.

Over the weekend, every available trooper from the Montana Highway Patrol, the Idaho State Police and the Washington State Patrol will at work along the highways to stop drunken or otherwise impaired drivers and anyone driving at dangerous speeds, officials said. They will also look for any seatbelt or child restraint violations.

AAA predicts that 32.4 million drivers nationwide will hit the road this weekend, a 1.5 percent increase from last year because of lower gas prices.
Eighty percent of highway fatalities occur between May and September, which in Montana amounts to about 180 deaths, Montana Highway Patrol Capt. Tom Hamilton. He attributes the spike in fatalities this time of year to increased traffic, good road conditions that prompt people to drive faster and more alcohol consumption. Half of all highway fatalities involve drunken drivers, he said.

In Montana, a first drunken-driving charge can result in a conviction of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. After the second offense, the driverís vehicle can be taken away and after the fourth, the DUI is considered a felony.

The penalty for not wearing a seatbelt is $20 and the fine for not using a child restraint system, such as a car seat, can be up to $100. Speeding tickets range between $20 and $100 in Montana.

Officers are asking people to report any dangerous drivers by calling 9-1-1, or *-4-7-7 when driving in Idaho.

For more information, read Friday's Missoulian or go to