Split reaction follows split vote on easing local alcohol restricions

Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 9:36pm

UPDATED: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 12:13pm

Reaction to the East Baton Rouge Metro Council's decision not to repeal local blue laws spread quickly around town.

Many people said they did not think alcohol should be the only product regulated differently depending on the day of the week.

"Absolutely. You can do anything else you want to on Sunday," said Matt Sledge.

Some felt that Sunday would be a less active day for bars, and if they want to drink at home, they can purchase everything they need during the rest of the week. But local business owners say the extra day would be well worth it.

"I think it'd be significant," said Brian Baiamonte, owner of Radio Bar. "I mean, it gives us 52 extra days, which is pretty close to 2 whole months of business."

In the public comment portion of the Metro Council meeting, more people spoke out in favor of the strict regulation. Most said they were worried about an increase of drunk drivers, and some told personal stories about how drunk drivers impacted their lives.

"These six individuals, along with another one, were killed by a drunk driver," said Tawanda Green, while holding up a photo of victims of a crash in East Feliciana Parish last May. "We are urging you to please consider your constituents when you look at this law."

The executive director of the Louisiana chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving said his group had no official stance on the law.

"We're more concerned from a law enforcement perspective," Floyd Johnson said. "And if you increase the hours (in which people can buy alcohol), then we would want to make sure that an increase of patrols are available."

Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White said the city is already one of the worst in Louisiana for drunk drivers. But some people thought the blue law had little impact on the road.

"If you want to drink on Sunday, you can get it on a Saturday," said Brittany Walraven, "so as far as drinking and driving, I mean, whether they're sitting at home drinking and getting on the road, or sitting at a bar drinking and getting on the road, it's still drunk driving."

But since the council will vote about the restrictions again in two weeks, those in favor of a change have a suggestion for how to get the votes they need.

"Maybe they'll have a drink and think about it," Sledge said.

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