Butte DUI arrests on the decline despite recent arrests


BUTTE, Mont. - Drunk driving has been a chronic and deadly problem in Montana, and often in Butte. NBC Montana checked to see if authorities have been able to make any progress curbing it.

A Butte man is behind bars after getting arrested for driving under the influence twice in less than 24 hours. His name is Tony Sullivan, and he's 36 years old. Records show police pulled him over at the intersection of Idaho and Gold Street Tuesday night around 9:30 p.m. Authorities say he was driving erratically with open containers of beer in the car.

He was able to post bail a few hours later, leaving the Butte Detention center around midnight. Just over four hours later, authorities say he was back in custody. Police found Sullivan passed out in his car on the 2000-block of Grand Avenue about 2 miles away from the first location. Police believe he hit a parked car before passing out. They arrested him for drunk driving.

On Thursday, he's still in jail on a $1,400 bond, according to the Butte jail roster.

Officials tell us DUIs in Butte are on a downward trend since 2013, but some residents think it's still too high.

"Some of the people driving on the roads here make us call the Highway Patrol, because they've got cars weaving all over the road," said Ted Topolski, a Butte resident.

We asked residents if police or bar owners can do anything to help the situation.

"Look, you can't go ahead and make a saint out of a sinner. How I can tell you is that some people can control their liquor and control themselves and have a designated driver, but they find themselves in circumstances where they don't," said Topolski.

According to Butte-Silver Bow Undersheriff George Skuletich, in 2013 there were 228 arrests. In 2015 there were 193 arrests. Last year it dropped to 183 arrests.

Skuletich says people are being more responsible due to education and enforcement.

"We put more people on the streets during major holidays and also education. I think the education that is out there through DUI grants and through other agencies educating the public that there's other options out there besides driving," Skuletich said.

Skuletich says an influx in ride services has also played a role. He says services like Mining City Taxi, Uber and Lyft are being utilized more by residents.

Residents say the issue can still be improved.

"As a concerned citizen, it is important to get assistance and report it and then provide the licenses for someone of authority to do it. We're not citizen police to stop somebody," said Topolski.