Posted: Jul 10, 2013 12:05 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - Montana Senate leadership has asked Senator Shannon Augare (D-Browning) to step back from his legislative duties while his federal DUI case is pending.
Augare was absent from the Wednesday meeting of the Law and Justice Committee held at the Capitol. The committee is charged with overseeing the Montana Department of Justice and has been instrumental in cracking down on drinking and driving.
Augare has been charged with obstructing a peace officer, driving under the influence of alcohol, and reckless driving after a controversial traffic stop in May.
Senate President Jeff Essmann (R-Billings) called the charges "serious" and says he does not think it's appropriate for Augare to participate in interim work.
Minority Leader Jon Sesso (D-Butte) says several legislators were pressuring Augare to step down from the committee and even resign as senator.
However, Sesso says until this case is resolved Augare is being asked to temporarily stand down.
Augare has not yet replied to our attempts to contact him.In June, Augare was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, obstruction of a peace officer and reckless driving after a controversial traffic stop.
According to federal court documents, on May 26 two people called 911 to report an erratic driver heading from Cut Bank to Browning.
Glacier County Sheriff's Deputy Connelly stopped the vehicle on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and asked the driver, "Do you know why I stopped you?"
The driver reportedly responded, "I am Shannon Augare. Why did you stop me?"
Connelly then told Augare there was a report of an intoxicated driver. Augare replied, "You have no jurisdiction. So, I am going to go."
Connelly directed Augare to turn off his vehicle and then reached into the car, tried to put the car in park and take the keys, and stated, "You are highly intoxicated."
Augare then reportedly revved his engine and sped away in the vehicle.
Blackfeet law enforcement officers began looking for Augare and found his car turning into a ranch, pulling behind some grain bins.
When Blackfeet officers approached the vehicle, the driver was no longer Shannon Augare, but rather his mother, Marla. The keys to the vehicle were not in the ignition and the headlights were turned off.
Blackfeet officers did not conduct a breathalyzer or field sobriety tests. The officers gave Augare and his mother a ride home.
Interviews with witnesses and a review of security footage show that Augare had spent between five and six hours at the Pioneer Bar in Cut Bank consuming alcoholic drinks.