BATON ROUGE, LA (FOX44) — The Baton Rouge Police Department is cracking down on underage drinking. The effort is made possible by a grant provided from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.
“We’re trying to change the drinking behavior of individuals because even though it is legal, it is an act that you have to be very responsible with,” Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, Baton Rouge Police Department, said.
The grant affords the department the money to pay for additional hours to enforce various alcohol-related laws. The funding went into effect on Thursday, Oct. 10, and the department’s first push was against minors in the Tigerland and surrounding areas.
“We know there are a lot of college students in that particular area on any given night and a lot of those students are under the age of 21,” Cpl. McKneely noted. “They tend to indulge in the party life, which includes drinking.”
Last night officers issued seven summons to underage drinkers. It’s a misdemeanor crime that comes with a fine of up to $100 or a prison sentence for up to 6 months. In addition, a conviction could result in a restricted driver’s license, or it could be revoked for up to 180 days.
“For those charged, it could change future behavior,” Cpl. McKneely said. “It can also prevent those who are not caught from participating in the behavior. When they see that officers are making these arrests, they tend to discard their beverages.”
But the grant is not limited to underage drinking. It also affords for an increase in DWI and seatbelt checkpoints.
“Driving while intoxicated is a serious problem in Louisiana and across the nation, causing 30 percent of all traffic fatalities and costing the State millions of dollars annually,” Sgt. Mary Ann Godawa, BRPD, explained. “The goal of this program is to reduce the alcohol related fatalities, increase seatbelt usage and underage drinking.”
Additionally, some of the money will fund prevention efforts, such as lectures on the dangers of drinking.