Michael's Law makes Georgia bars 21-and-up beginning Friday - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Michael's Law makes Georgia bars 21-and-up beginning Friday

Michael Gatto (Source: Facebook) Michael Gatto (Source: Facebook)
GEORGIA (WTOC) -

A host of new laws take effect in Georgia Friday. One of them will regulate who can enter a bar and who can work there. 

A state law that's intended to make bars across Georgia safer has its tragic beginnings at a former bar in Statesboro.

Michael Gatto was an 18-year-old freshman in his first week of college at Georgia Southern University when he went into Rude Rudy's.

According to police, an off-duty bouncer, who was also underage, confronted Gatto.

Prosecutors said that bouncer, Grant Spencer, assaulted Gatto to the point he died hours later.

Gatto’s parents have since become advocates for strengthening regulations in Statesboro and elsewhere.

The law makes all bars 21 and up to enter, not just to drink. It also requires all employees to be 21.

It holds local governments responsible for regulating those bars that break the rules. It also requires more training for bouncers and bar staffs.

On top of Michael's law, Statesboro rolls out some local ordinances that create separate license categories for bars and restaurants and gives council more latitude to handle businesses who violate the rules.

The laws won't bring back Michael, but the hope is they can prevent another tragedy from happening.

The owner of Rude Rudy's closed the bar after Gatto's death and surrendered his alcohol license. Nobody has tried to reopen there since.

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