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New public drinking ordinance takes effect

By Jacqueline Gedeon, KTVM Butte Reporter, jgedeon@ktvm.com
Published On: Dec 23 2013 06:27:02 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 24 2013 09:05:15 AM MST
BUTTE, Mont. -

Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester told us officers issued thirty open container warnings over the weekend

The city's new open container ordinance took effect Saturday morning. It bans open containers of alcohol on public property between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Butte bartender Deb Hopkins pours drinks at Crazee Carol's Casino and Mill and she was working over the weekend.

"Butte is one of the last cities not to have open containers and so they're just used to it," Hopkins said.

Hopkins told us she almost walked out on the street with drink in her hand

"A customer hollered at me that I couldn't take it with me," she explained.

Maloney's Co-Owner Gene Riordan explained he started warning his customers ahead of the new law, but says other than that it was business as usual.

"Once they leave here they're on the streets, they're on their own," he said.

Butte police told us they're giving out warnings during a grace period, but after the new year they will begin ticketing people caught with an open container between the hours of 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.

"It's more warnings than I expected," said Sheriff Ed Lester.

Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester crunched the numbers Monday morning. The new law took effect Saturday just after 2 a.m.

"We warned everyone of the ordinance prior to it taking effect," Lester said.

Despite educating bartenders and patrons throughout the weekend, warnings still numbered in the double digits Saturday and Sunday.

We asked Sheriff Lester how folks reacted,

"They were most surprised that we were handing out warnings as quickly after it was enacted," Lester said.

At Crazee Carol's Casino and Mill, Deb Hopkins understands it will take some time for folks to get used to the new law.

Anyone caught violating the ban could face fines of up to $500.