Agents round up more than 30 in crackdown on underage drinking at Carrollton bar


Posted on July 23, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 24 at 8:58 AM

Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS- New Orleans is known for its nightlife. But investigators are cracking down on those too young to drink and those who sell to them.

Neighbors on a quiet block in the Carrollton area say the street transforms when "The Frat House" Uptown opens for the night.

For Lauren Lambert, the bar has been constant source of frustration.

"The kids who we see lining up to go into The Frat House, they can't be any older than 18 for sure," said Lambert. "They're young and they know they're going to get drunk."

The Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control investigated complaints of underage drinking at The Frat House Uptown early Friday morning.

They issued 29 criminal summonses for people suspected of drinking underage, and charged three bartenders with selling alcohol to minors. According to the ATC, that's the highest number of citations in months for bars in the New Orleans area.

Larry Hingle, director of the ATC, said the agency conducts about 7,000 compliance checks a year, mostly in the Greater New Orleans area. Hingle said the number of bars caught serving minors has gone down drastically since the checks first began 15 years ago.

During a compliance check, according to the ATC, an underage operative attempts to buy a drink. If they are successful, the bartender is charged, and the establishment is cited.

ATC agents are also sent in to check whether minors are holding alcohol drinks.

"I have actually one time been part of a sting, but I carded the person, so I felt good," said Chris Johnson, a bartender at Lucy's in the Warehouse District.

Johnson said he cards everyone who's age is questionable because the consequences aren't worth it.

"It's not worth it at all, I mean you're going to get fined if you do," said Johnson. "I know you've got bars around the city that do cater to underage people, but eventually their luck will run out."

"Of course bars are going to be lenient because New Orleans is known for what it's known for," said Lambert. "But when you're catering to kids who are of that age, giving them a safe haven to get drunk and then go out onto the roads and then drive around at 5 AM... it's an awful situation."

It's a situation authorities say that could cost The Frat House it's liquor license.

Hingle said this is the second time in about a year The Frat House has been cited. The bar will have an administrative hearing with the ATC Commissioner. It could face a fine or have its liquor license suspended or revoked.

When Eyewitness News called The Frat House for comment, the establishment hung up.