Cities Seek Revival of Public Intoxication Bill
Billings and Missoula officials are renewing their call to state lawmakers to allow them to criminalize public intoxication.
City officials asked a legislative panel Wednesday to revive a failed bill that would have lifted a prohibition on local governments from creating public-intoxication ordinances.
The state policy behind that prohibition says people should offered treatment, not be prosecuted because they are drunk.
Billings police chief Rich St John says the aim is to use a public-intoxication ordinance as leverage to convince more repeat offenders to seek treatment.
He says it will build on a new program in Billings that gives offenders a choice between treatment and a citation.
Missoula deputy city attorney Keithi Worthington says Missoula supports reviving the bill, though the city is behind Billings in its treatment options.