Starting July 1, Michael's Law will go into effect and prevent those under the age of 21 from working as a bouncer. The law will also tighten regulations on bars and will require counties to report alcohol license violations in a more timely manner.
Michael's Law was created after Michael Gatto, a Georgia Southern University student, died at a bar in Statesboro after a fight with a bouncer.
Below are five things to know about the law and how it will affect Athens when it goes into effect July 1.
1. Bars will become strictly 21-and-up when the law goes into effect.
Under current law, bars are effectively 18 to enter, 21 to drink. Current laws allow students who are underage to abandon their drinks if a bar is being raided to avoid being charged with a Minor in Possession. Bouncers tend to check IDs on weekends because bartenders do not have time to check each ID during busy times. However, this will all change in July when the law goes into effect because it will be illegal to be in a bar at all if a student is under 21, regardless of whether or not they are drinking. In this case, a bar will be legally defined as an establishment that has over 75 percent of its sales in alcohol, with the exception of designated concert venues.
2. Starting in July when the bill takes effect, students under 21 will no longer legally be able to work in bars.
Not only will students under the age of 21 be prevented from patronizing bars, but they will also cease to be employable by bars because of their age. By raising the age limit for bouncers, Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-26) said he believes the people working in the bar will have more maturity in order to stop underage students from drinking and to stop people who are inebriated from causing trouble.
3. Local counties will be held to a higher standard of communication.
Local authorities in each county will be required to notify the Department of Revenue, which issues alcohol licenses, when they have issued alcohol related citations to local bars so alcohol licenses can be revoked when bars break the rules. Now, there will be a “shot clock,” for Georgia counties when they issue a citation against a bar. Counties will have 45 days to report each citation to the Department of Revenue in order to give the department better intelligence. If the county does not report the citation, it will be fined by the state. The county will be required to contact the owners of the cited bars and talk to them about the reasons for the citation. Additionally, the bar owners will be required to report themselves as well. Upon the first violation of the law, a bar will be fined $750. If the bar violates the law for a second time within a three year period, the bar’s liquor license will be revoked. As mentioned, Rude Rudy’s had received 70 plus citations over a period of three years, but no disciplinary action was taken by the government.
4. The law will render the manufacturing of, possession of or use of powdered alcohol illegal.
The exception to this would be for research purposes by a healthcare provider, state institution, private college or university, pharmaceutical or biotechnology company.
5. All bar staff will be required to train under Michael’s Law stipulations.
In a second phase to be introduced to the House of Representatives at a later date, mandatory insurance levels for bar proprietors and staff training regulations will be proposed. Advocates of Michael’s Law say the training course will help educate Bouncers on the proper way to diffuse altercations safely, how much force to use and when to call police, along with how to inspect ID’s and identify intoxicated individuals.