Legalese — Take Out Alcohol

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If nothing else, the COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in the creativity and cooperation of the legislature to create solutions to problems that didn’t previously exist, or maybe only existed on much smaller scales.  Although services like delivery from restaurants and pick-up orders were possible pre-COVID, they weren’t nearly as popular as they are now.  Services such as UberEats and Door Dash are increasingly used to help people avoid crowds and exposure to the virus.  Even people who aren’t worried about exposure are learning about the convenience of having restaurant meals delivered to their homes.

One thing that was missing from the restaurant-at-home experience was cocktails.  Many times when we go out to eat on a date or with friends, some of us want to enjoy a cocktail while we are there.  What’s Taco Tuesday without a margarita?  A nice steak sometimes tastes better with a glass of red wine.  An indulgent meal after a long work day might feel that much more indulgent with a Moscow Mule accompaniment. 

In addition to the consumer end of things, the legislature recognized that many restaurants counted on the money they could make from their cocktail menu to supplement the slim profit margin on the food.  Sure, take-out services helped keep the doors open during the pandemic, but it didn’t help them do anything more than get by. 

Enter Senate Bill 236.  A bill that pleased consumers and restauranteurs alike. 

Basically what SB 236 says is that you can order up to two mixed drinks per entrée along with your take-out order.  The take-out order has to be picked up by the person who ordered the take-out order.  That is, no Door Dash or UberEats.  That person has to be over 21.  The drinks themselves can’t have more than 3 ounces of alcohol in them, and they have to be mixed drinks.  (No tequila shots, for example.)  Each drink has to be sealed in a container that makes it obvious if it were opened, and the container can’t have any openings or straw holes.  When you transport the drink(s) home, you have to lock it (them) in a glove compartment or in the trunk. 

In other words, this isn’t like the drive up daquiri bars you can find in New Orleans. You can get a daquiri to bring home, but you have to keep it sealed and in the trunk until you get it home.  This makes some sense – if you are able to go to a liquor store and buy the ingredients for a daquiri, why can’t you go to a store (restaurant) which sells the ingredients all mixed up?  As long as you aren’t drinking and driving and/or complying with the open container laws and the public drunk laws, what’s the difference?

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. It is being offered for informational purposes only.

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