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ABC board votes on higher fines for bars serving underage

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Underage drinking in the capital was a hot topic recently following the death of Madison Brooks following a night of underage drinking at a bar in Tigerland.

Officials from the Alcoholic Beverages Control Bureau tried to explain what they are doing to stop it at the Metro Council meeting on Wednesday, March 8.

That comes as ABC board members could vote Thursday on new fines for bars found to be in violation.

“If they’re not held accountable later, we’re kind of spinning our wheels. So all of us together have to hold these kids, these companies, more accountable for what they do,” said Christopher Cranford, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Office.

While Cranford says ABC officials do compliance checks on these bars, he had some pretty bold and slightly wild ideas for tackling the underage drinking problem.

“Maybe fingerprints, something with some of the government IDs currently in use. Some changes to that would likely prevent many children from using fake ID,” Cranford said.

Officials from the Alcoholic Beverages Control Bureau showed a huge batch of fake IDs collected in Baton Rouge over the weekend.

ABC officials have some suggestions of what future discussions should include:

Future Alcoholic Beverage Control Proposals (WAFB)

“You know once again how you will stop it from using fake IDs. I truly believe that sometimes you have to go to extremes,” said District 8 Councilwoman Denise Amoroso.

“I think one thing is obvious, if people want to drink, whether they’re 15, 19, 20, they’re going to find a way to do it,” District 12 Councilwoman Jennifer Racca said.

On Thursday, the ABC board will vote on changes to how bars are fined in relation to underage drinking.

The first offense for failing to search for ID, fines could range from $500 to $600.

First offense for bars allowing underage drinking, fines could increase to $750 for a first offense.

Below is a look at some of the other proposed changes in blue.

Class III Offenses (WAFB)

“You have to do things that stop people from breaking the law. And I know that the excuse is often my people can’t afford it. Well, then don’t do it, don’t break the law,” Amoroso said.

The ABC board of directors was scheduled to vote on those slightly increased fines at its Thursday meeting, which begins at 4:30 p.m.

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