It?s no secret that driving under the influence is a major issue in Montana. The state continually ranks as one of the worst states for DUIs in the nation.
In Missoula County, the numbers are alarming. And for the Missoula County sheriff it?s a story that hits too close to home.
Sheriff Carl Ibsen knows down to the day, ?31 months, 2 weeks and 1 day,? he said -- that?s how long it?s been since he lost his wife, Judy Wang, in a fatal DUI accident on a Montana highway.
?Young feller on his way to Missoula, to party a little bit, already drinking beer, running 115 miles an hour hit her,? said Ibsen.
That ?young feller,? David Bugni, was 26-years-old when he was attempting to pass, lost control, swerved, and hit Wang?s car back in September 2009.
In those months, weeks, and days since the accident Ibsen has seen far too many other fatal drunk driving crashes in Missoula County.
This time last year, Missoula County law enforcement had handed out 357 DUI tickets. So far in 2012, the number sits at 409.
?The way I see it is you are murderer who just hasn't picked his victim yet,? Ibsen said.
Ibsen says it will take a community effort to get drunk drivers to come to a halt. He says it?s a culture that seems to be out of hand. ?We need to make impaired drivers societal pariahs, it takes everybody. No single group can do it.?
If it were up to him, the punishment would be harsh. ?If that first time around, you put them in jail for six months I wonder how that would affect it. I bet it would be very much like a fourth-time DUI and putting them away forever,? Ibsen said.
But it's a problem he wishes he could have stopped 31 months, 2 weeks and 1 day earlier.