St. Regis Senior, Madison Hill won the DUI Task Force logo contest. Her artwork was chosen by the taskforce committee a few weeks ago and last Thursday she was awarded $100 for her entry. The logo is an outline of Montana with DUI letters which look like a highway and Mineral County is starred.
Retired Sheriff, Ernie Ornelas, heads-up the taskforce and said the logo will be easily reproducible for use on letterhead, email, reader boards, Tshirts and other advertising campaigns. He said the committee had narrowed the countywide contest down to three pieces and Hill’s won-out in the end.
The contest was open to all students and this will be the permanent logo for the task force.
“I really like art,” said Hill who plans on attending Montana State University in the fall where she will major in animal science and agriculture business with a minor in art.
She came up with the idea by putting stuff together and thought the different parts would look cool, “I swear some of my best ideas come at 2 o’clock in the morning when I’m working on homework,” she said.
The DUI Task Force had not been active over the past few years and Ornelas revived it last December. When presenting information to Mineral County Commissioners last year, he said there were 39 DUI arrests in the county in 2014 and 2015, where 66 percent of car accidents were the result of impaired drivers. In addition to DUI offenses, Minors and Underage in possession of alcohol, or MIPs and UAPs, continue to be a problem. In a recent youth survey conducted in Mineral County, there has been an increase in the number of kids using alcohol. In middle school, 7.6 percent report drinking five or more drinks in a row within the last 30 days of the survey. With 20 percent of high school students reported drinking.
According to a 2009 study by the Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation, “young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence are two and a half times more likely to become abusers of alcohol than those who begin drinking at age 21.”
Strategies the task force plans on implementing include supporting DUI, impaired driving and primary seat belt laws. Also, provide overtime funds for enhanced DUI patrols on weekends, holidays, and special events. These overtime contracts would be awarded to the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office. They would also like to provide an honorarium to the Mineral County Reserve Deputy Unit for their volunteer assistance with the kegger and bar patrols.
Additionally, the task force may provide funds to the sheriff’s office to purchase equipment, supplies and training needed for enforcing DUI laws and processing arrests, as well as provide support for compliance checks, to make sure bars and other establishments do not sell alcohol to minors.
Another item included in the plan is to support a sobriety program. This program would be designed to keep second and subsequent DUI offenders sober while they are awaiting trial. Participants would need to provide breath testing twice-a-day or subscribe to SCRAM units. There also could be a possible Safe Ride Program, which would be made available to impaired tavern patrons.
Public education especially aimed at students, was also proposed. This would include bringing educators into the schools for classes, and have information available at community events. Mineral County Task Force is funded through driver license reinstatement fees. A driver who loses his or her license can choose to request a reinstatement of driving privileges, which may include a $100 or $200 fine, of which half is returned to the county DUI Task Force.