Michael’s Law and changes to city alcohol ordinance in effect

Caitlyn Oliver

On July 1, Georgia’s Michael’s Law and several changes to the Statesboro alcohol ordinance went into effect, followed by the creation of Statesboro’s new Alcohol Advisory Board.

Bar Experience:

Michael’s Law mandates that bars will allow only patrons 21 or older on the premises, including bartenders and bouncers. Employees must pass a certification course, which includes learning when and how to diffuse a violent situation and how to identify a false identification card.

The exception for those not of legal drinking age is if the underage patron is accompanied by a parent/guardian or spouse who is of age. Underage patrons will be allowed if they pay to see a performance held at a bar.

“There have certainly been less fake IDs showing up,” Justin Clements, manager and bartender for Gnat’s Landing, said.

An employee will ask underage patrons to leave restaurants that include bars, like Gnat’s Landing, after 10 p.m. when the kitchen closes and the establishment goes from a restaurant to bar venue. The only exception is if there is a concert or performance.

Alcohol Ordinance:

The city of Statesboro amended its alcohol ordinance, also in effect July 1. The changes include imposing an 11 p.m. curfew for underage patrons at any establishment licensed to sell alcohol, unless a parent or guardian is present. The ordinance also reinforces the decision to prevent those younger than 21 from being on bar property unless for entertainment purposes.

“New students shouldn’t see a difference in campus atmosphere, because they won’t have a previous experience to compare it to,” Jeff Yawn, councilman and executive director of Dining Services, said.

Alcohol Advisory Board:

Statesboro’s Alcohol Advisory Board, a panel of six chaired by Patrice Buckner Jackson, Georgia Southern University’s dean of students, held its first organizational meeting on July 11. This is not the first time Statesboro has created an alcohol board.

“In the past, there was an alcohol control board, and they had more decision-making ability than they probably should have had. We knew that was not what we wanted, but we knew that we wanted some voice to represent us and our constituents, whether it be students, or whether it be licensees or people here in the community that have concerns that could create opportunities for us to listen,” Yawn said.

The Alcohol Advisory Board holds public meetings at 4 p.m. on the second Monday of each month at Statesboro City Hall on East Main Street.