NICE DONATION — From the left, Holly Gordon of the Pondera County Tavern Association presents County Attorney Mary Ann Ries with a check for $1,000 which will go to the DUI Task Force. Funds will be used to help educate people to the dangers of heavy drinking.
Photo courtesy of the PCHD
By Melissa Barringer, I-O Intern
On July 25 a $1,000 check was presented to the Conrad DUI Task Force from the Pondera Tavern Association.
The donation will go towards training along with law enforcement detection and prosecution equipment for the Task Force.
When it comes to drunk driving “We do have the goal of prevention,” says County Attorney MaryAnn Ries of the Task Force, “We don’t want impaired drivers. Period.”
The Task Force encourages designated driving and has provided rides for the past three years during Whoop Up and Homesteader Days. “We’re just trying to prevent drunken crashes and to make Pondera County a safe place to drive,” says DUI Task Force Chairman Cynthia Grubb, RN, CLC of the Pondera County Health Department.
The goal declared within the mission statement is “promoting a healthier and safer environment for county residents by reducing the number of alcohol related traffic crashes through public education, awareness, legislation and enforcement strategies.”
The purpose behind this statement began with the desire to reduce underage drinking and prevent alcohol related crashes. The Task Force has been educating students about the effects of alcohol and also brought a DUI simulator to the high school. “We’ve had a strong focus on preventing underage drinking,” says Ries.
One way Montana is putting a stop to drunk driving and underage drinking is implementing a new law. In the last legislation session a law was passed requiring mandatory alcohol server training for all management and employers at alcohol retailers beginning Oct. 1.
One program is the Responsible Alcohol Sales and Service (RASS) curriculum through the Let’s Control It program of the Montana Department of Revenue.
There are currently 435 RASS trainers in Montana who teach a Montana specific curriculum for alcohol vendors. Within the classes servers learn how to detect customers who have over consumed along with how to handle the situation. Servers also learn how to spot a fake ID and underage drinkers.
Since 2003 there have been 16,000 servers who have gone through the RASS program. The RASS curriculum requires training every three years for anyone who serves or sells alcohol. Ries says it is important to train servers because “they are responsible if they sell to people underage and over consumers.”
Pondera County’s DUI Task Force has officially been operating for three years and will continue to educate the community on the dangers of alcohol abuse and thanks to a donation will be able to continue to expand the program.
Editor’s note: Melissa Barringer is a CHS graduate attending Whitmore College in Washington as a Communications Major. For more information on the DUI Task Force, contact the county health department at 271-3247.