To one Georgia lawmaker, not selling sweet tea is a crime -- and he's trying to lay down the law.

When Rep. John Noel, D-Atlanta, couldn't find sweet tea on a Chicago restaurant's menu, he realized that he didn't want that to happen in Georgia.

Noel and four co-sponsors filed a bill that could charge restaurants that did not offer sweet tea with a misdemeanor "of a high and aggravated nature."

The sentence for a misdemeanor can be up to 12 months in jail.

Although restaurants still will be allowed to serve unsweet tea, Athens area managers said they don't look upon the bill favorably.

"It wouldn't be fair to force the business owner to carry a product that he doesn't want to carry," said Locos general manager John Kethley after a bit of laughter.

Telling restaurants that they must offer sweet tea "would be like saying you have to offer Pepsi because you serve Coke," said Johnny Carino's manager Michael Russo.

"You have sugar on the table, so you can make your own sweet tea," he said.

However, under the proposed bill, putting sugar on the table wouldn't matter. The bill specifies that the tea must be sweetened when it is brewed.

Gumby's assistant manager, Joseph Drinson, said he finds the proposed bill humorous, especially since "we just started serving sweet tea about two months ago."

Although Noel wouldn't mind this proposed bill becoming law, he admitted that it was a humorous attempt to relax the legislature.

"I don't think you should mix humor and law," said Matt Gierke, a senior from Rincon.

"Restaurants should be able to serve whatever they want," he said.

"I don't really find it that humorous," said Amy Slotin, a junior from Spartanburg, S.C.

"It seems pointless to me that they would bring a bill like that (to the legislature)," she said.

Chris McBrayer, a sophomore from Fayetteville, said he thinks the bill is "absurd," but in the case that the bill passes, he doesn't think that it will be enforced.

"It costs lots of money to put someone in jail, and it wouldn't be worth it," he said.

-- Contributing: The Associated Press

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