Some Montanans view the right to drink and drive as fundamental as the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Drunk-driving laws can’t find traction in Big Sky country. Such laws are seen as an infringement on the state’s live-and-let-live spirit, an attitude one legislator sums up as the region’s “cowboy culture.”
The latest collision of law versus culture took place last month when a MADD-supported bill banning open alcohol containers in vehicles was voted down despite vigorous lobbying from Gov. Judy Martz.
Federal agencies report that 36 states and Washington, D.C., have laws banning open containers of alcohol in cars, and an additional 11 states ban drinking while driving. Montana, Wyoming and Mississippi are the only states with no federally approved law prohibiting the practice. These states have among the highest numbers of per capita traffic fatalities involving alcohol.