Tuesday, January 27, 2015

ATC announces annual Mardi Gras crackdown

Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control (ATC) Commissioner Troy Hebert has ordered ATC agents to hit the streets again this Mardi Gras season to ensure that alcohol, tobacco, and alternative nicotine products are being sold and served responsibly.

ATC agents, under the direction of Commissioner Hebert, have continued to increase the number of compliance checks they conduct during Mardi Gras celebrations statewide in an attempt to keep alcohol, tobacco, and alternative nicotine products out of the hands of underage persons. During Mardi Gras 2014, ATC agents conducted close to 230 compliance checks of businesses along parade routes statewide. Of those businesses checked, ATC issued 69 citations for sales to underage persons.

“I understand that Mardi Gras and alcohol often go hand and hand; however, it’s ATC’s responsibility to make sure that businesses are following the law and are not jeopardizing the safety of our residents and visitors by serving underage persons,” said Commissioner Hebert.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association offers ServSafe Alcohol online server training course at www.laserverpermit.com. For just $24 for members and $30 for non-members, individuals can spend two-hours completing the course anywhere they have a PC and an internet connection and obtain their state-approved responsible vendor permit. 

In the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras, business owners with ATC permits will be reminded of important alcohol laws and ATC is encouraging the owners to train their staff, obtain the required permits, and implement policies to ensure their business is fully prepared to handle the increased patronage that they are likely to receive. One of ATC’s main focuses this year is making certain that businesses are educating their employees on the different types of IDs. In Louisiana, driver’s licenses issued to persons under 21 are vertical and show the exact date that the person will turn 21 in red letters, whereas driver’s licenses issued to persons over 21 are horizontal. 

“Businesses deal with huge crowds during Mardi Gras,” said Commissioner Hebert. “Knowing how to identify an underage person by the layout of their driver’s license, without needing to do any math, will enable employees to quickly serve their eligible customers and avoid receiving a citation by refusing service to anyone who’s underage.”

Since taking a more proactive approach in educating businesses ahead of Carnival Season, the number of citations issued to businesses for selling alcohol and tobacco to minors has decreased dramatically. ATC agents will again be out in full force to ensure a fun and safe Mardi Gras for all Louisiana citizens and visitors.

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