825 cited for illegal drinking

Published 11:58 pm Thursday, March 10, 2011

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — During the just-concluded Mardi Gras season, nearly 400 French Quarter revelers wound up with an illegal drinking citation during the biggest crackdown on illegal drinking in Louisiana in a decade, state agents say.

The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control said that that about 50 agents issued 825 citations statewide during the 2-1/2 week season — focusing on the nonstop drinking in the French Quarter and along parade routes and seeing who was sipping what.

Most of the citations involved underage drinking, ATC Commissioner Troy Hebert said Thursday. Hebert said he was pleased with the project, which was largely paid for through a federal grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

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“We may not be able to totally prevent minors from purchasing alcohol, but by being proactive and visible, we can make a difference and these numbers reflect that,” Hebert said.

The major problem wasn’t with businesses selling alcohol — only 15 citations were issued to 1,278 sellers that were inspected. Agents spent most of their time watching the drinkers themselves.

Along parade routes, agents cited 408 people — 262 of those in the New Orleans region. Another 393 came in the French Quarter. A Mardi Gras event at Cajun Field in Lafayette brought in 24 citations.

The drinking citation champion among the Mardi Gras season parades? Atlas in Metairie on Feb. 25 with 53 pinches by agents.

The biggest day for citation-writing in the French Quarter? Fat Tuesday, of course, with 95.

But Hebert said that for his agents, a raid on a New Orleans fraternity party was the biggest eye-opener. When agents arrived they found 97 kegs of beer — enough to hold 1,503 gallons of suds — being sold illegally to underage drinkers, Hebert said.

However, 92 of the kegs already were empty. And an investigation showed the party organizers had earlier returned 100 empty kegs and picked up more, Hebert said.

“They already had drunk about 190 kegs,” Hebert said. “That’s a lot of beer.”

According to ATC figures from its enforcement regions, the New Orleans region had 655 citations and five arrests, the Baton Rouge area garnered 49 citations, the Lafayette-Lake Charles region brought in 50 citations, central Louisiana saw two citations and 69 citations were issued in northern Louisiana, including Shreveport-Bossier City and Monroe.