BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A bill that would have banned people under 21 from bars looked to address issues that arose in the Madison Brooks case. The legislation faced heavy pushback and is moving forward with a lot of changes.
With significant amendments, 18-20 year-olds can still go into Class A facilities under the bill. The crux of the bill now focuses on stronger verification of IDs and putting the blame on the bars when someone underage is served alcohol.
“If we can acknowledge we’ve created and we’re supporting a culture that’s not in the best interest of our young people. If we can be taken seriously we need to act like we are going to follow our own laws,” said Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton.
After Brooks, a 19-year-old LSU student, was allegedly over-served at a Tigerland bar and was later reportedly raped and killed, the bill by Mizell was created. She hoped that keeping underage people away from bars could help reduce the number of these tragic incidents.
“My niece Madison is not the only soul lost to the culture of underage drinking in Louisiana, and she will not be the last, unfortunately,” said Brooks’ godmother Lauren LeBlanc.
There was fierce pushback from the hospitality industry and college-age students who came to testify. Once the amendments were added on, many waived their opposing testimony.
Bars will have to scan an ID in a verification machine rather than just look at them. There were questions about the liability if a fake ID passes the machine. A member of the Alcohol Tobacco Control Board said there would be a chance to appeal cases like this.
“The bar knows that he’s got a possible right of action by not doing due diligence, the scanner allows the bar owner to make sure that it’s an actual ID. So it’s a cooperative effort that he has to have to buy in,” Mizell said.
The bill also raises the penalties for serving people underage. The amendment reads as follows:
“(i) A first offense, not less than one thousand dollars but not more than five thousand dollars.
(ii) A second offense that occurs within six years of the first offense, not less than five thousand dollars but not more than ten thousand dollars.
(iii) A third offense that occurs within six years of the first offense, not less than ten thousand dollars but not more than fifteen thousand dollars.“
It advanced as amended without objection. Mizell said this is just a stepping stone and she hopes to bring future legislation to crack down on this issue.