BUTTE - Underage drinking appeared to be down during the St. Patrick's Day celebration in the Mining City on Wednesday.
Butte police interviewed in the late afternoon said they didn't find as many underage drinkers; however, it appears young people started drinking earlier in the day.
As of 5 p.m., City Judge Steve Kambich said he processed 13 minor in possession tickets, which was less than the number processed at the same time last year. However, the first MIP violators came in at 1:30 p.m.
For the second year in a row, Kambich remained on duty throughout the evening to processes MIP violators. Last year on St. Pat's, Kambich processed 41 MIPs; in 2008, 51 citations were issued.
Sgt. Jimm Kilmer said the lower number could be attributed to fewer partiers in general, and the fact that St. Patrick's Day fell in the middle of the week. Kilmer was part of a six-officer task force that specifically looked for underage drinkers.
Kilmer believes strict enforcement of underage drinking laws over the past three years is starting to take effect.
"They know we're checking for underage drinking and it's not accepted anymore. The tolerance is zero," Kilmer said.
Kambich said most of the MIP violators he saw as of 5 p.m. were between 19 and 20 and from Butte. He said all of them admitted to knowing they weren't allowed to drink and that police were out patrolling for underage drinkers.
"They just thought they could get away with it," Kambich said.
There were no reports of major disturbances as of 5 p.m.
Reporter John Grant Emeigh can be reached at (406) 496-5511 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.