Hours to buy alcohol in BR may be extended

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The proposed amendment would not only apply to alcohol sales at the grocery or liquor stores, it would also change things for the bars, but law enforcement stands firm in opposing any changes to the current law.

"It's going to put more impaired drivers on the road," said Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White.

It's a fear Chief White said will turn into reality if the proposed change is approved.

Metro Councilwoman Allison Gary said it should be up to the individual when they want to buy alcohol, not the government.

Currently, the law states Monday through Saturday, from 6 a.m. till 2 a.m., you can purchase alcohol.  Sundays though, bars are closed and those authorized to sell booze can do so beginning at 11 a.m.

Her proposal would make Sunday like any other day allowing places to sell starting at 6 a.m. and granting bars permission to open seven days a week.

"I think it's a double-edged sword for us. I think in some ways, we work very long, very hard to be able to be open on Sundays and be one of the exclusive restaurants that is kind of open on Sundays. At the end of the day, I think it's outweighed by the possibility of making downtown a Sunday destination," said Ryan Fairman, general manager of Lucy's restaurant and bar downtown.

Plus, Councilman Ulysses Addison has another proposal: extending the current bar closing time from 2 a.m. till 4 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It's an idea that has some downtown restaurant and bar owners ready to cash in.

"We get busier actually after 12 a.m. with the younger crowd. A lot of people in the service industry don't even go out till past midnight," said Boudreaux and Thibodaux's general manager Brennan Bayham.

"A lot of times at 2 a.m., we're having to cut the lights and really pushing a lot of people out of the building," said Fairman.

But Chief White calls the extended hours a recipe for disaster, especially for bars near LSU's campus.

"The longer you're in that environment, the longer you're allowed to drink, the more alcohol you intake," said Chief White.

Which Chief White said means trouble when it comes to violence such as shootings, stabbings and fights at bars, not to mention the potential for more drunk drivers on the roadways.

Though some say both proposals could benefit downtown, "It could kind of open up somewhat of a day event of being able to come downtown," said Fairman.

But the city's top cop said it's not worth it.

"You can't put a price on one human life," said Chief White.

The Sunday proposal goes before the full metro council Wednesday for a vote and Addison is expected to introduce his ordinance to extend bar closing times.

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