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Underage Drinkers at Greater Risk at this year’s Mardi Gras?

Megan Lynch
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) - This year’s Mardi Gras will be missing something.

In the past, Missouri liquor control agents have helped crack down on underage drinking at Mardi Gras events.  But budget cuts last year eliminated those positions.

“It is a reason to be very concerned for our youth,” says Mike Boland with Missouri Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Boland says the burden is now on city police.  “To ask police to do double duty I think is difficult.”

When the liquor control cuts were made, the St. Louis Police Chief told KMOX the reductions could have an impact on major events.  Last week a spokesperson for the department said they have it covered.

But Boland says he watched beer vendors for hours at last weekend’s Barkus Parade.  “I never saw once, one establishment card people that I perceived to be underage.”

Liquor license and other fees generated 38-million-dollars for the state of Missouri the year before the cuts were made.  It would have cost a little over a million dollars to keep liquor control fully staffed.  24 of 41 jobs were eliminated.  Only one field agent remains in each of five regional offices.   

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