Traffic Stop

A Bozeman police officer makes a traffic stop on Main Street in downtown Bozeman in May 2010.

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A preliminary report outlines where people are getting busted for DUIs, how intoxicated they were and what ultimately happens to their cases in Gallatin County.

The report was presented to members of the Gallatin County DUI Task Force on Wednesday evening and will be finalized next month.

Efforts for the report began nearly a year ago. Steve Ette, director of Court Services, along with task force member Heather Hume and coordinator Kelley Parker-Wathne, worked to prepare the report, which Ette estimated will cost the task force roughly $12,000.

The study looked at DUI cases that were resolved in 2014 in Gallatin County Justice Court, District Court and city courts in Bozeman, Belgrade, Manhattan and West Yellowstone.

In 2014, there were 764 DUI cases adjudicated. Of those, 147 were amended to different DUI charges and 28 were amended to non-DUI charges or dismissed all together.

Gallatin County Justice Court accounted for the most DUI cases with 394, which represent cases from outside of city limits. Bozeman Municipal Court had 318 adjudicated cases in the same period.

In Justice Court, 61 cases were amended to different charges with 51 of those changed to another type of DUI charge and 10 amended to something different.

In Bozeman Municipal Court, 235 of the DUI cases in 2014 were convicted as charged. And of the 83 that ended up being amended, nearly 94 percent were changed to another type of DUI.

The report also analyzed trends, noting that the most commonly charged defendants were between the ages of 18 and 29. And those cited were most commonly cited between midnight and 3 a.m.

Of the 337 cases in which defendants provided a breath sample, the average blood-alcohol content was 0.177, more than twice the legal limit.

The roads where most DUI offenders were pulled over in Gallatin County were the roadways with the most traffic — U.S. 191 (which includes Huffine Lane and Gallatin Road), Interstate 90, Jackrabbit Lane, and Main Street and Seventh Avenue in Bozeman.

In addition, the report delves into how many of the DUI defendants were compliant with their pre-trial release conditions, how many initially pleaded not guilty compared to how many were eventually convicted, lengths of sentences, and even a break-down by age of the blood-alcohol content of defendants.

Ette said the data shows that Gallatin County officials are taking DUIs seriously.

“People aren’t getting a free ride,” Ette said.

The task force encourages local law enforcement, prosecutors and judges to use the data to review their own procedures and to strengthen prevention, education, enforcement and prosecution efforts with the overall goal of decreasing the incidents of impaired driving, Ette said.

“Very complete, very thorough,” task force member Rick Gale said of the report. “It says something about our accomplishments that we can all be proud of, our efforts in this county to address DUIs.”

Parker-Wathne said she hopes the report also brings awareness to the community about the need for a new database system that’s would make it easier to track DUI data.

“It would be nice to really see what we’re doing,” Parker-Wathne said.

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Whitney Bermes can be reached at wbermes@dailychronicle.com or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.