PENDLETON - Fewer citations for minor in possession of alcohol and driving under the influence of intoxicants were issued during Round-Up last week than the year before.
MIP citations were down 61 percent from 2003.
"The word is getting out that there is zero tolerance for underage drinking," said Jeff Jett, Oregon Liquor Control Commission regional manager for Central and Eastern Oregon.
The Oregon State Police in Pendleton issued just seven DUIIs during Round-Up, and Pendleton Police cited 26 from September 11 through September 19. OSP Lt. Darin Helman of OSP said that his troopers normally issue about twice as many DUIIs as they did this year during Round-Up.
OLCC's eight inspectors who attended Round-Up issued 54 citations for MIP, down from last year's 88 citations. Jett said the number of citations last year was the highest in years. There were 41 citations in 2002.
"I like to think optimistically and that parents are just becoming a little better informed and are more involved," Jett said.
Kevin Hale, policing director for Happy Canyon, attributed the lower numbers of MIPs to a combination of "really good staff and really good supervision."
"The word is getting out that we want guests to be welcome, but not over-indulged," Hale said. "We want people to be safe and responsible."
Hale noted that the intoxicated minors are not getting their alcohol from the Happy Canyon back room, where only those 21 years old and older are allowed.
"They're getting their alcohol and drinking it before they show up to the dance," Hale said, noting that fewer youths showed up to the dance intoxicated than in the past.
Most of the MIP citations were issued as minors attempted to enter the Happy Canyon Dance at the Pendleton Convention Center, Jett said. Another 14 minors were cited for different violations, including six for misuse of a driver's license, five for minor on a licensed premises and three for giving false information to an officer.
OLCC inspectors wrote 15 MIP citations on Friday and 36 on Saturday, the two busiest days of Round-Up.
Jett noted that OLCC came across fewer fake IDs this year, and "that makes me pretty happy," he said.
Minors cited for an MIP face a district court date, a fine of up to $250 or community service and loss of a driver's license for up to a year. Those under 18 are handled by juvenile court authorities and may also be required to attend alcohol counseling. Giving false information to an officer and misuse of another's ID are misdemeanor charges punishable by $350 fines.
Jett said the lower DUII numbers could be related to the increase in the number of designated drivers observed by OLCC inspectors and officers. Lt. Mark Swanson of the Pendleton Police Department agreed.
"I heard so many comments about how responsible people were being and how many designated drivers there were," Swanson said. "It was a fairly responsible group this year."
Jett attributed the decreased numbers in part to an increased number of OLCC inspectors at the event - eight this year compared to five last year - as well as well-trained staff and volunteers at the Round-Up and the Happy Canyon Dance.
"We do a lot of awareness (training) a few weeks before Round-Up to train staff and temporary help," Jett said. "We give ideas for better crowd control. The directors of both Round-Up and Happy Canyon are very helpful in providing us with any assistance and tools we need."
OLCC and Happy Canyon staff were assisted by Cascade Event Services, Pendleton Police and Morrow and Umatilla county sheriff's deputies in monitoring the events.