ABC possibly changing underage drinking policy
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Baton Rouge ABC Board wants to change the underage drinking policy to hold more establishments accountable.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Office is taking a closer look at one bar in particular. Police say LSU student, Madison Brooks, spent her last few hours alive at a bar in Tigerland. Investigators say she was at Reggie’s when the 19-year-old met the four guys who would later drop her off before she ended up in the middle of Burbank Drive, hit by a car.
According to arrest reports, all but one of the guys was underage despite admitting to police they were all drinking at the bar. Baton Rouge Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Member Scott Wolfong says Reggie’s is on the board’s radar, and the latest incident could trigger policy changes.
“One of the big things that we have tried to do is look for the repeat offenders on underage drinking, so one of the proposals that I am actually trying to get the board to adopt is to require a board appearance for multiple violations within a year,” says Wolfong.
Under the current ABC policy, businesses can have two violations from serving alcohol to minors, and they’ll be issued a fine. By putting down money, business owners avoid going to the board or getting flagged by the board.
“You know, we have to have an honest conversation. I think in this community, what are our priorities? You know everybody wants everyone to make money, but when it’s a controlled substance, in my opinion, there needs to be some more reasonable restrictions,” adds Wolfong.
As Wolfong explains, making some of these changes is not always easy.
“There is a very close relationship between the alcohol industry, the town and the governing bodies, and our board has several members that have financial interest in the industry,” explains Wolfong.
Members who sit on the ABC board are appointed by the Metro Council, and are often people connected in the industry. Some council members think those board members, who have financial stakes in local businesses, should still be allowed to vote on substance control policies.
“It has to be diverse approach, not just a singular approach and I believe the ABC board is balanced,” explains Metro Council member Darryl Hurst.
Hurst says they appoint members who are in the industry to the ABC board to give more insight on how the business works. If they have to vote on something that pertains to their individual business, they will not be allowed to vote.
On February 9, 2023, the ABC board will meet to discuss whether or not to adopt a new fine schedule for establishments.
The proposal allows businesses just one violation for underage drinking before facing more than just a fine.
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