With board approval for the expenditure from Pondera County DUI Taskforce funds; Pondera County Sheriff’s Office received three Portable Alcohol Screening Testers or “PASTs” which have already been put into use.
Upon presenting the request Eddy Erickson, sheriff’s deputy, stated; “these will replace units that are no longer latest technology or in good working condition.”
The units which are the same types as used by Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) are portable breath analysis devices designed to screen for alcohol impairment and will be used with motorists that are stopped by law enforcement for driving violation.
While their results are inadmissible in court; according to Robert Bender; MHP Sergeant they can be very useful in “confirming what we see on Standard Field Sobriety Tests”.
Costing $375 each; a total of $1,025 was contributed by the taskforce. The DUI taskforce receives their monies from reinstatement fees and personal contributions. “We vote on every expenditure over $250 and every voting member was in favor of this one,” stated Cynthia Grubb; current coordinator.
The Taskforce focuses on educating the public about the dangers of impaired driving and works to prevent DUI.s
Local efforts have routinely included the Safe Rides Home Program which pays for one additional sheriff’s officer on selected nights to offer drivers who may be impaired a free and safe ride home.
Current discussion at task force meetings includes the possible purchase of ID checking guides to be distributed to retailers and law enforcement county wide to assist with the identification of false ID’s and an update by Jennifer Ramburg of Gateway Prevention regarding drug testing policy at the Great Falls Public Schools.
With representation from law enforcement, retailers, elected officials, hospital, community and prevention specialists; opinions are varied and discussion dynamic.
Local founder Sgt. Bender invites people to “come to the meetings and be part of the solution not part of the problem.”
Meetings are usually held at 10 a.m. on the third Friday of the month and are noticed in the I-O; if you are interested in attending; call the Pondera County Health Department at 271-3247 and have your name added for email notification and remember ‘buzzed driving’ is drunk driving.