Underage drinking crackdown cites one-third of JP businesses checked

Underage drinking crackdown cites one-third of JP businesses checked

METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Nearly one-third of Jefferson Parish businesses recently checked for underage drinking failed to follow the law, according to investigators.

"To date, 168 businesses have been checked, and I think 55 have sold to underage," Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng said. "I figured it would be a good percentage but never did I think it would be a third of those checked."

The latest underage drinking sting hit 17 bars, convenience stores, restaurants and even an Applebee's and Breaux Mart with citations. The businesses cited during the investigation could lose their licenses, and the person who's accused of selling to the minor faces a fine of up to $1,000.

"The violation happens at the act of sale," Lee-Sheng said.

A federal grant funds Jefferson Parish's Alcohol Beverage Review Committee's push to stop the sale of alcohol to minors. Lee-Sheng re-established the committee in 2011.

All of the businesses approached by FOX 8 refused an on-camera interview. Most said off-camera that the undercover minor came in during a busy time and took advantage of the small wait staff. Others said they felt tricked by investigators' techniques.

"If an owner feels entrapped, they could absolutely bring it forth in the committee and the hearing would take place and all of that would come out in the committee," Lee-Sheng said. "We absolutely don't want to put violations on anyone if a mistake had happened, but I don't think that will be the case in most of the citations."

Two hearings are set for later this month for the businesses to plea their case.

Lee-Sheng says the federal grant will pay for the next 222 random enforcement checks.

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