Convenience Stores Continue Cold Beer Battle
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana’s convenience stores are continuing their fight to legalize cold beer sales at grocery, pharmacy, and convenience stores in the state.
A U.S. District Court judge decided in June not to overturn Indiana’s law as sought in a lawsuit from the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association. In his ruling, Judge Richard L. Young wrote that expanding the sale of cold beer beyond liquor stores, taverns, and restaurants would make the state’s laws surrounding alcoholic beverages tougher to enforce and would allow more opportunities for minors to purchase beer.
On Tuesday, the IPCA announced it will appeal the ruling to the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.
The association has argued that Indiana’s “archaic” law has no rational basis and provides an unfair advantage to liquor stores, who are permitted to sell their beer cold.
“Our members and the public understand Indiana’s alcohol laws lack common-sense and we are asking the state and federal courts to put an end to this,” said IPCA Executive Director Scot Imus. “It is clear the monopoly liquor stores have limits consumer choice and hurts the growth of our state’s economy.”
The IPCA has also filed a new lawsuit in Marion County Superior Court claiming that Indiana’s alcohol law regarding cold beer sales violates the state constitution. In the complaint, the IPCA says Indiana’s law allowing convenience stores to sell cold wine products – which typically have higher alcohol content than beer – but not beer makes little sense.
In announcing the appeal and new lawsuit, the association also cited data which it claims shows that grocers and convenience stores have a better compliance record than liquor stores. Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission figures dating back to 2005 show liquor stores have had 1.73 violations per permit holder while there have only been .321 violations per permit holder for convenience, grocery, and pharmacy stores.
When it comes to selling alcohol to minors, the IPCA said Indiana State Excise Police surveys show liquor stores failed to follow the law an average of 18.9 percent of the time, while convenience stores averages a 7.7 percent failure rate.
“Convenience stores’ record of compliance clearly demonstrate that owners and associates are responsible retailers who know how to best keep alcohol out of the hands of minors,” said Imus. “Employee training programs and technologies are investments convenience stores make to keep their stores safe and successful.”
The IPCA has also previously stated that it may once again seek to have the Indiana cold beer law changed by lobbying state lawmakers to do so in 2015.