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Music festival aims to keep public safe with DUI checkpoints - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Music festival aims to keep public safe with DUI checkpoints

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Filling an empty field with some of country music’s biggest stars sounds like an ideal weekend for fans attending Headwaters Country Jam.

However, drinking alcoholic beverages for several hours and then attempting to drive home is a serious problem.

For the last two years, festival organizers have teamed up with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department to implement DUI checkpoints with a breathalyzer at every exit.

"It doesn't matter if you work here, or you're attending for the day, or you're camping, everyone has to go through it," said Lauren Zimmerman, Headwaters Country Jam media coordinator.

One way many festival goers avoid the risk of drunk driving is by spending the weekend camping.

"Camping is definitely the way to go because you're in here, and you don't even have to leave to go anywhere, you don't have to drive or worry about the roads," said Sierra Bignell, a festival attendee.

For the day pass fans entering and leaving the grounds each night of the three-day event, the festival and law enforcement say they haven't seen additional traffic from the breathalyzers.

"Our sheriff's office and sheriff's deputies are trained in making it very thorough, but also very quick and they're been trained for years to spot,” Zimmerman said.

"It takes a few seconds to blow into it, and it almost instantly gives us if you've been drinking and approximately how much," said Sheriff Craig Doolittle, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

The Sheriff's department wants all drivers to have a blood alcohol content of 0.02 or less, which is much lower than the legal limit of 0.08.

"You're still impaired at 0.04 or 0.06, impaired enough to possibly kill somebody or yourself or wreck your car," Doolittle said.

This is the second year the festival has teamed up with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department for the DUI checkpoints at every exit.

"We started them do to the fact that we had lots of people, we've had several crashes out on this road since the concerts started, there have been some fatalities out there," Doolittle said. “We were spending all of the time as the concerts let out doing traffic stops, writing DUIs to stop it that way, and we spent all of our time shuffling people to jail in Boulder, rather than letting people out here have fun and us being out here where they really need us.”

Another incentive for preventing drunk driving is that the road used to exit the festival intersects with a highway with a 70 mile per hour speed limit, just about a mile from the festival grounds.

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