Bar Crackdown Scares Bartenders, Patrons

Athens is still buzzing about a Georgia Department of Revenue raid in 26 bars downtown last weekend. No formal arrests were made, but 11 citations were issued to individuals for underage drinking. Administrative citations could be issued to bars found out of compliance with the law as well.

William Gaston, the press officer for the Georgia Department of Revenue, says The Department of Revenue’s Alcohol and Tobacco Division (ATD) regularly completes compliance checks around the state. He also says, “ATD is charged with upholding the State’s alcohol laws. Compliance checks can include a variety of tasks, including checking patron’s IDs. These checks can be conducted by agents in uniform or plainclothes. The primary goal of a compliance check is to ensure that the State’s alcohol laws are properly being followed, not to cite underage drinkers.”

The Department of Revenue say they should have the bar locations of the individual citations by the end of the week.

Chas Chastain, a local business member of the Chamber of Commerce, doesn’t think the bar raid will affect the downtown economy. He says there was a police bust for underage drinking 6-10 years ago and he thinks history repeats itself.

“Whether it’s the local police department doing a raid or a state-wide breakdown on ID’s,” Chastain says, “the downtown has always bounced back. The businesses will persevere and everything will be business as usual.”

Today, downtown businesses are more worried about Michael’s Law, a new law that will prevent people under the age of 21 from working in bars. This law was signed by Governor Nathan Deal last year and will go into effect this July 1st.

Maren Kazin, a bartender at Moonshine, says bartending is how a lot of students pay for their education. She says, “Having the after-school hours makes it a lot easier for people to have those jobs. The bar business in Athens is lucrative. People make a lot of money.”

Maren says the new law is especially unfair for underage employees who already have a job. She says, “So this job you’ve had for a number of years… maybe just a month or two – you can’t have it any more.” With the new crackdown on underage employees, kids like Maren might have to search for a new way to make money by July 1st.

By: Danielle Lewan


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