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Commission revising alcohol codes

Posted on 11.21.2017
Graphic by Alexis Stella

For in-depth, interactive timeline, click on the graphic. Graphic by Alexis Stella

The Indiana Alcohol Code Revision Commission, an interim committee of the General Assembly, has been meeting regularly since Aug. 22 and will meet throughout the next two years to discuss, review and draft bills concerning Indiana’s alcohol laws. During the Nov. 14 meeting, the main points the commission addressed were Sunday alcohol sales and the sale of cold beer in convenience stores, grocery stores and drug stores.

Indiana is currently the only state that does not allow the sale of beer and wine at grocery stores, package liquor stores, convenience stores or drug stores on Sundays. It also is one of 12 states that does not allow liquor sales on Sundays. Beer, wine and liquor, however, can still be sold and purchased at local breweries, vineyards and distilleries on Sunday, according to prohibitionrepeal.com.

Director of the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking Lisa Hutcheson argued that an addition in the hours and days for the sale of alcohol would increase youth access, but recommended that if Sunday sales did advance in the legislative process, that hours for Sunday sales should be limited to between 12 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Dan Towery, the owner of S&C Ignition Interlock, a company that installs ignition interlock devices for those convicted of operating while intoxicated offenses in Tippecanoe and surrounding counties, provided a personal testimony about his daughter’s death due to an intoxicated driver. Towery said that the driver, who typically drank at home, went to a bar to drink because it was a Sunday. He then left the bar intoxicated, which is when he caused the accident that killed Towery’s daughter and her boyfriend. Towery said that Sunday alcohol sales were not bad, but that overindulgence and poor decision-making were the real issue.

“Allowing alcohol package Sunday sales is not a problem itself,” Towery said. “For example, friends may decide to get together to watch a ball game, but say there is no cold beer. Do they not get together or do they go to a bar? In either case, it is overindulgence that is the issue, not where it is consumed.”

Currently, Preliminary Draft No. 3411 recommends that Sunday sales should be permitted between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. Although, PD No. 3411 is still open to change. The committee also discussed the possibility of making Sunday alcohol sale hours identical to other days of the week.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Public Action Management and former Executive Director of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission Pamela Erickson gave a testimony before the commission during its Nov. 14 meeting. Her presentation focused mainly on using legislation to reduce underage drinking.

According to Erickson, requiring mandatory identification checks for all alcohol purchases, regardless of perceived age, could go a long way in cutting down on underage drinking.

“Retail clerks and servers are our first line of defense [against underage drinking],” Erickson said. “We depend on them to carefully check ID and refuse sales to minors. . .and intoxicated persons. Most states have some kind of mandatory carding law based on presumed age, but sometimes that leaves too much guess work about age. Increasing the age for mandatory carding or carding everyone is a safer way to go.”

Lay member of the commission and owner of Automotive Color in Fort Wayne, Ind. Keith Byers said that mandatory carding for all alcohol purchases is unnecessary.

“I am 100 percent against carding at all times,” Byers said. “The current law is more than satisfactory and allows for common sense. This has been tried before and found by the public to be ridiculous.”

Byers referred to a 2010 Indiana law that required mandatory identification for all alcohol purchases unless someone “reasonably appeared” to be older than 40. The law was repealed the following year after a large public outcry.

The commission’s next meeting will be held at 11 a.m. on Dec. 1 at the Indiana Statehouse in the Senate Chamber. A livestream of the commission’s meeting is also available through iga.in.gov by selecting the committees tab.

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