Soon area police will be visiting places that sell alcohol in Hill County to determine if the sales meet state laws.
Bars, taverns, restaurants and clubs are prohibited from selling alcohol to people under 21. For a long time in Montana, the law was a joke — widely ignored by all concerned.
There has been a big change in public attitudes about drinking in recent years, and that has been reflected in the compliance checks conducted by Havre police and other organizations.
Local businesses have had a good, though certainly not great, record. During the last set of compliance checks, four establishments failed. It’s not that serious a problem for those businesses. Fines and penalties are not very severe in Montana. On the third offense, the penalty is $350.
One of the reasons the number of violators has declined is a new state law that mandates bartenders and servers attend a class that teaches how to check people to see if they are eligible to buy alcohol.
Police are giving advance warning that they will be on the lookout for violators because their goal is not to catch violators, it is to see that there are no violations.
Changing public attitudes and tougher enforcement is succeeding in helping reduce the number of cases of young people getting alcohol. There is still a long way to go, but officers are taking an important check.
And establishments that sell alcohol are acting more responsibly.