Remember several years ago when Louisiana had a loophole that allowed 18 to 20-year-olds to drink in bars? That loophole was closed in 1996.

But if State Senator Eric LaFleur of Ville Platte has his way, this same age group will be able to buy and consume alcohol if they obtain a certificate.

"I really believe that 18-year-olds should be able to drink," LaFleur said in an interview. "It just doesn't make any sense for people to be going to bars and getting drinks from older guys and having to patrol and regulate that. It just doesn't work, and everyone knows it doesn't work."

There was a small hiccup in LaFleur's bill though as it was scheduled to be heard Tuesday at a hearing with the Senate Judiciary B Committiee. However, he deferred consideration until next week before it came up for discussion.

In light of the seemingly regular hazing deaths on college campuses, LaFleur said he hopes the bill would encourage drinking in public places over drinking in private places. He cited additional safety advantages and social pressures to behave more responsibly.

Now, to be allowed to drink, 18 to 20-year-olds would have to obtain a certificate. It would be called the Louisiana Alcohol Consumption Certificate and would require an alcohol education course in hopes of curbing abuse among those who acquire it.

The course would cover health risks, absorption rates along with laws and penalties regarding alcohol consumption. The course would cost no more than $100.

"This is the same thing that we require for people who serve alcohol, essentially the same class," LaFleur said.

LaFleur also said he plans to add an amendment to the bill which requires parental consent to obtain the certificate. He believes that it would increase the chances of the bill getting out of the committee next week.


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