Jul 3, 2012 6:31 PM by Jenise Fernandez
Kaplan's Mayor is pushing an ordinance that would force Vermilion Parish bars to close at 2 a.m. He says he's compelled to do this after his close friend, 23-year-old Pete Johnson, died in a car accident over the weekend.
Twenty-three-year-old Kade Abshire was driving that car, traveling north on LA highway 35 after he and Johnson left Curve Lounge. Abshire drove off the road and flipped his vehicle. Both were ejected. Abshire's blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit and was arrested for DWI and vehicular homicide.
"Pete Johnson really hit home. He was a wonderful kid never caused trouble," said Mayor Kirk Champagne.
Champagne believes if all bars in the parish close at 2 a.m., there'd be fewer drunk drivers bar-hopping late at night.
"We can't control everything. We can't control the driving, people make their own decisions, but this is something we can control," said Champagne.
Champagne says Pete Johnson and Kade Abshire were at a friend's house before heading to Curve Lounge. He thinks this ordinance could have made a difference.
"Chances are they'd still be at the friend's house and would never have gone anywhere," he said.
Champagne says if this ordinance happens, it would affect about 5 bars, but not everyone is on board.
"I don't want the finger pointing at me because I'm not the only bar that closes at 4," said Curve Lounge Manager Danny Frederick.
Frederick says most people come into his bar at midnight, and when it's closing time, they're grabbing cases of beer and continuing the party elsewhere.
"Closing at 2, yes it'll hurt us, but I'll deal with it. I just don't see how it'll solve the problem," added Frederick.
"I've buried my toes in the sand. I'm going to push this," added Champagne.
Currently, bars in Kaplan stay open until 2 a.m., while bars in Maurice stay open until 3. Some bars outside city limits stay open as late as 4 in the morning.