State appeals ruling against 24/7 sobriety program

Courtesy Montana Department of Justice

MISSOULA, Mont. - The Montana Attorney General's office is fighting to keep the state's 24/7 Sobriety Program after a district judge struck it down in Lincoln County last week.

The state legislature set up the 24/7 program in 2011 through House Bill 106 to combat drunk driving.

It allows judges to order twice-daily alcohol breath tests to people accused of their second or subsequent drunk driving offense as a condition of their release, but last week, District Judge James Wheelis ruled that the program is unconstitutionally vague without clear legislative guidelines.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox responded to the ruling in a statement, saying, "Combating DUI is a priority for Attorney General Tim Fox, and the 24/7 sobriety program is an effective tool in curtailing not only repeat DUI offenses but other alcohol-related crimes as well. It has been proven to work not only in Montana but other states as well.

Wheelis' ruling applies only to Lincoln County, according to Fox' office.

The state's appeal has been filed with the Montana Supreme Court. We'll let you know what happens.