Penalties tougher for selling alcohol to minors

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - he city council is getting tough on those who break the existing fees for selling alcohol to minors are somewhat gray... First offense 100 to 500 dollars... Second offense: 250 - 750 dollars... And third offense: 500 - to 1,000 dollars... After weeks of discussion... The fines are clearly defined and the consequences stiffer for habitual offenders. It's an old problem that's not going away...

Every week undercover agents catch businesses selling alcohol to minors and as the Alcohol Review Board will tell you a lot of them are repeat offenders. Part of the reason the existing fines aren't enough and leave a lot of discretion.

1st Offense: $100 - $500
2nd Offense: $250 - $750
3rd Offense: $500 - $1,000

"I think we all agree the fines we have now are a little too low," said John Ieyoub, Lake Charles City Council President.

Ieyoub sponsored the ordinance to increase the fines to the following:

1st Offense: $350
2nd Offense: $550
3rd Offense: $1200

While it is a substantial increase and eliminates a lot of the gray areas - some on the council feel the fines could be higher.

"This is an important issue and I don't think we should be knit-picking about who is going to close, who is going to hurt, what's going to happen. This is a serious matter of life and death," said Luvertha August, Lake Charles City Council.

That's exactly why Councilman Marshall Simien believes they should take it one step further.

"If we get to a point where somebody has got a third offense we should automatically pull their license and make them reapply. I don't think it should be discretionary," said Simien.

In addition to the new fines, any business with three strikes within three years automatically loses their liquor license for two years and has to reapply to the Alcohol Review Board. Also if a liquor license is revoked, the Alcohol Review Board will take that revocation into consideration for any new application at that site during that two year period.

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