MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Restaurants and bars in downtown Milledgeville are cracking down on lighting up. State law says you can't smoke in those places, but businesses found a loophole, that is until now.
It's written in black and white: no smoking. But just a few months ago, customers at The Brick could light up.
"Our interpretation of the law was that after 10 o'clock we become 18 and over and stop serving food and we are a bar," Frank Pendergast, the owner of The Brick, said.
Pendergast says that loophole was shut down back in May. Now businesses that serve to anyone under 18 cannot allow smoking inside during anytime of the day.
"They used to be able to, now you can't, so when you move the cheese on people they get a little upset," Pendergast said. "It really just took us walking over to them to remind them of the new policy and it really hasn't been an issue at all."
That is until thousands of Georgia College students return to classes this month. Milledgeville City Councilman Phillip Joiner is concerned about enforcing the new policy when there are larger crowds out at night.
"We're bracing for potential snags and educating the people," Joiner said. "There's a lot of small and they can elevate, into potential bigger problems."
Snags like keeping the sidewalks clean and making sure customers don't bring their drinks outside while they smoke. But Joiner's biggest concern is mixing drinks with State Road 49 that goes straight through downtown.
"It's lit fairly well, but not very well. You have these log trucks speeding through here," he said. "I want to make sure that we avoid students or otherwise getting hit because a lot of them are coming out on the sidewalks."
He hopes by taking a proactive approach, everyone will be able to enjoy downtown night life safely.
Joiner plans to meet with the city manager, and local law enforcement soon to discuss his concerns. He says some solutions could be to post signs around downtown letting customers know of the new policy and business hiring more employees to enforce it.