Mardi Gras brings more than one million people to New Orleans, and there are actually eight parishes within Louisiana that have made Mardi Gras a state holiday. While Mardi Gras festivities provide ample opportunity for fun as partygoers attend balls and parades, there are also potential pitfalls that residents and locals alike must be aware of when celebrating Mardi Gras.
Because many of the festivities involve drinking, drugs and other high-risk behaviors, Mardi Gras revelers face threats to both their physical safety as well as their reputations and freedom if something goes wrong. Mardi Gras attendees could be harmed by negligence, facing life-changing injuries. Arrests are also common for a variety of party crimes, which could lead to jail time, costly fines and a criminal record that impacts future opportunities.
When these problems arise, Bloom Legal is here to help. Our firm offers representation to both victims of injury, as well as individuals who need assistance from experienced New Orleans criminal defense lawyers. If you’re attending Mardi Gras and something goes wrong, give us a call as soon as possible so we can put our extensive legal knowledge to work on your behalf.
Staying Safe During Mardi Gras Celebrations
Attending Mardi Gras should be a wonderful time to make great memories, provided you take some basic precautions to ensure that a joyous occasion does not turn tragic. To avoid serious problems that could arise during Mardi Gras celebrations:
- Know the Law: While plenty of drinking goes on during Mardi Gras and the state of Louisiana does not have strict open container laws, it is illegal to have open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles. If you are drinking in the French Quarter, the city of New Orleans also requires you to restrict your consumption to plastic cups; so, you should not carry bottles. Underaged drinking and unlawful drug use are also strictly prohibited.
- Don’t Drink and Drive: Drinking and driving is a high-risk behavior that could have tragic consequences. Not only could you be arrested for driving while impaired, but you could also cause a serious or fatal accident. It’s best not to drive if you’ve been drinking at all and you should arrange a plan for a designated driver before you begin partying for Mardi Gras.
- Don’t Drink to Excess: Blacking out or drinking to the point where you cannot control your behavior could put you at risk of both physical harm and legal consequences if you engage in unlawful activity.
- Use the Buddy System: If you will be drinking or if your friends are drinking, try to stay together and ensure at least one person in the group remains somewhat sober. There is safety in numbers and friends can watch out for each other.
- Understand That Intoxicated People Cannot Consent: Do not engage in sexual activities with anyone who is too intoxicated to give consent to the actions that you are undertaking, or you could potentially find yourself at risk of being charged with a sexual offense.
Unfortunately, even if you make your best efforts to be safe, you could still be harmed by an intoxicated partygoer who causes a collision or engages in other unsafe conduct. A lawyer can help you determine if you have a claim for compensation if you’ve been harmed.
What if You’re Arrested During Mardi Gras?
While physical injury due to Mardi Gras problems is a worst-case scenario, being arrested for a criminal offense could also change your future in profound ways. Each year, many partygoers are arrested for various types of unlawful conduct during Mardi Gras festivities, including:
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Underage drinking
- Disturbing the peace
- Assault and battery
- Sex crimes
- Open container violations
- Public intoxication
- Resisting arrest
- Criminal trespass
- Criminal damage to property
- Lewd and disorderly conduct
If you are arrested, your actions during Mardi Gras could change the course of your life, especially if you’re facing jail time. You need to be proactive in responding to accusations.
The New Orleans criminal defense attorneys at Bloom Legal can help. We provide representation to both local residents arrested during Mardi Gras, as well as out-of-state visitors concerned about having to travel back to Louisiana and looking for help resolving their cases quickly.
We will work with you to develop the right legal strategy for responding to charges that minimizes trips back to the state, helps protect your reputation and aims at avoiding or reducing the penalties that you could be facing. To find out more about how our legal team can help you after you’ve been arrested or cited during Mardi Gras celebrations, contact us today.
FAQ for a Mardi Gras Lawyer
Is Mardi Gras dangerous?
Though watching floats and enjoying food and drink may seem like a perfect vacation activity, Mardi Gras is not without its risks. Each year, there are hundreds of automobile crashes during the 5 day event. Many of which result in serious injuries and fatalities. Drunk driving is at its peak in Louisiana during this time, and pedestrians also need to keep a careful eye out. Even rides with Uber and Lyft can be dangerous during the holiday, so visitors must carefully plan how they will get home after the festivities.
Many families enjoy Mardi Gras together, though parents need to keep a watchful eye on their little ones. Though children may be eager to catch some Mardi Gras beads, the beads are unsanitary. Similarly, with an increase of drug trafficking at this time, parents and guardians need to keep a watchful eye to the actions around them and the items little ones put in their mouths.
If safety precautions are met, however, Mardi Gras can be a wonderful event for all ages.
Is it illegal to ride a Mardi Gras float without a mask?
Here’s Mardi Gras trivia to amuse your friends: It’s actually illegal to ride a Mardi Gras float without a mask!
This law was created early on in the holiday’s history to encourage mingling between all Mardi Gras celebrants. With a mask on, the social classes were allowed to mingle and enjoy the festivities together.
What is the point of Mardi Gras?
Though the wild party scene may not appear to have any religious connection, Mardi Gras has its roots in the Christian faith. Mardi Gras, meaning “Fat Tuesday,” was the day where people enjoyed feasting on rich fatty food before the Lenten fasting occurred. Various traditions spread throughout Europe with many different countries participating, but American Mardi Gras is connected to the French version of the holiday.
The first American Mardi Gras was a quiet celebration held in 1699 by French brothers, Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, who had been exploring Louisiana under orders of the King of France. The first organized Mardi Gras was held by French settlers in Mobile in 1703. The tradition continued to grow over the years, and the holiday became a beloved American tradition.
What was the first Mardi Gras parade?
Perhaps surprising, Mardi Gras parades are a fairly recent addition to New Orleans traditions. The first parade was held on February 24th, 1857 by the Mistick Krewe of Comus. The first parade started the tradition of elaborate floats, and a ball was held afterwards for the Krewe and their invited guests.
Mardi Gras safety is important to keep in mind during this festive time of year, but Bloom Legal hopes both Louisiana residents and New Orleans tourists enjoy this grand celebration.
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Posted by: Sarah Perrie