It could best be described as a conflict of interest.
A Republican representative - and bar owner - raised eyebrows in Montana yesterday when he defended drink driving in a passionate speech to the House.
Alan Hale, a Tea Party supporter, said strict DUI legislation is 'destroying' small businesses in a state where lawmakers have made it their mission to cut high drink-driving rates
The 57-year-old was one of only 12 representatives to vote against a new drink driving bill, which allows the courts to take into account DUI offences from up to 10 years ago.
In his speech, which was quickly circulated on YouTube by Montana Democrats, he said:'These DUI laws are not doing our small businesses in our state any good at all.
'They are destroying them. They are destroying a way of life that has been in Montana for years and years.'
Controversial views: Mr Hale is a former logger and miner who was elected to the House in November
Mr Hale, a former logger, miner and truck drive, has a vested interest in those small businesses - he and his wife own the Silver Saddle Bar and Cafe in Basin, Montana.
He said: 'These taverns and bars in these smaller communities connect people together. They are the centre of the communities.
'I'll guarantee you there's only two ways to get there: either you hitchhike, or you drive, and I promise you they're not going to hitchhike.'
The house has passed a slew of anti-DUI bills this year as it attempts to crack down on Montana's high drunk-driving rates.
And the state made headlines in January with an anti-drink driving advert called 'sober friend', which showed a man avoiding DUI by leaving a bar on a horse.
After some confusion, state lawmakers confirmed it is not illegal to ride a horse while drunk.
It's not the first time Mr Hale, who is serving his first term as a representative, has spoken out against drink driving laws.
In the run-up to the November elections he told local newspaper the Helena Independent he believed some DUI penalties were too harsh.
He said: 'They arrest people day in and day out, and it hasn’t done any good, but it has ruined a lot of young people’s lives.
'If you get a DUI you can’t get a CDL (commercial driver’s license) and you’re left out in the cold.
'I’m not sure what needs to be done, but we need to look at a whole lot of alternatives to try to straighten it out.'
Mr Hale, who has five children and 12 grandchildren, appeared at a Tea Party rally earlier this month where supporters were encouraged to bring their guns to focus attention on the right to bear arms.
He described them as his 'family', and said: 'I would like to see this crowd a whole lot larger.
'I hope I can continue to do the right things and vote the way I should.'
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