Red Lodge, Montana

Ask the Chief – September 2014

Ask the Chief

This is an ongoing series where concerned citizens like you can ask questions of Red Lodge Police Chief Steve Hibler. If there’s anything you want to know about locals laws and ordinances or how the RLPD works, please send your question to editor@LocalRag.com.

There are two rules: keep it polite, and don’t dredge up the past. Chief Hibler has only been in Red Lodge for a few months, so let’s not ask him to explain the actions of his predecessors.

Q    If I’m not sure whether or not I’m over the legal blood alcohol content to drive, can I ask an officer for a breathalyzer? Will I be in trouble if I do blow over the limit?

A    Officers get a variety of questions and requests from bar patrons. It is not our policy to offer breath tests apart from conducting an investigation for a potential enforcement action. The best advice is to plan ahead for a designated driver, taxi, or to walk, if you’ve been drinking alcoholic beverages. Portable breath test instruments are tools, not toys.

Q    Are bicyclists required to follow vehicular rules when riding on the streets of Red Lodge? Should they ride with the flow of traffic or against the traffic? Is it legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalks, in particular Broadway? Should a bicyclist desire to cross a street with stop signs, should they dismount and walk the bike across using the marked crosswalk, or ride across the crosswalk?

A    Bicyclists are required to operate as any other vehicle. If you dismount and walk at a crosswalk, you will have right of way. If you choose to stay on the bike, you are considered a vehicle. There is an ordinance against wheels on sidewalks along Broadway.

Q    What are the laws regarding children walking or playing around town unsupervised? Can Child Protective Services or the police be called on me because my child walks to the park alone?

A    There are only a couple of states with laws specifically regarding children being left alone. Montana does not have a specific law. Most agencies follow guidelines provided by Health and Human Services: first the child’s age, maturity, and ability to handle emergency situations. Most guidelines suggest 12 years of age as a general rule. Beyond age and maturity, the environment they are left in and whether it is day or night are also factors. CPS can be called at any time and normally works with law enforcement to identify the factors in the specific reported case.

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