INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana shoppers can forget about picking up cold beer with their groceries
after a federal judge opted against loosening restrictions on where the
chilled beverage can be sold.
who want a cold one will have to keep making a separate stop at a liquor
store after the supermarket or convenience store, or go out to a bar or a
Richard L. Young ruled Monday that the state has legitimately drawn a line
by allowing only liquor stores to sell cold beer.
Expanding the sale
of cold beer beyond liquor stores, taverns and restaurants would make
Indiana’s alcoholic beverage laws “tougher to enforce” by creating many more
outlets at which minors could purchase cold beer, Young wrote in his 33-page
legislative classifications, which serve to limit the outlets for
immediately consumable cold beer, is rationally related to the legitimate
goals of Indiana’s alcoholic beverage laws,” Young wrote. “Opening this
market to others without restriction is not.”
But the Indiana
Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association called the law
“irrational, discriminatory and outdated” and said in a statement that it
plans to keep trying to loosen the restrictions.
Scot Imus said Tuesday the association hasn’t decided whether to file an
appeal, but that isn’t the only option.
“And of course,
there is always the Legislature,” Imus said.
The group filed the
lawsuit last year, arguing that the restrictions on cold beer sales are
discriminatory and don’t allow for a fair marketplace. It also noted that
while convenience stores can’t sell cold beer, they can sell cold wine that
sometimes contains twice the alcohol content.
confusion among customers,” the association said.
said that liquor stores, taverns and restaurants are subject to much
stricter regulations than convenience stores and groceries. And although the
convenience store association claimed that liquor stores were more likely
than convenience stores to violate state alcohol laws, Young said the state
could rationally believe that “limiting the sale of immediately consumable
cold beer to package liquor stores furthers its legitimate goal of curbing
underage restriction of alcohol.”
He noted that there
were far fewer liquor stores than convenience stores or groceries in
Indiana, “which naturally results in fewer outlets in the state to purchase
Association of Beverage Retailers supports the current law, maintaining that
grocery and convenience stores don’t have the age restrictions liquor stores
do on who can enter and the requirement to hire clerks with state liquor
licenses. The group didn’t immediately have any additional comment Tuesday.
attorney general’s office, which defended the state law, said the proper
place to fight the restrictions was the Legislature, not the courts.