Football season is around the corner and for some, there’s nothing like watching the games on Sunday with a plate of hot wings, potato chips and a cold beer. To make that scenario possible, you would have had to purchase the beer in advance. Customers in Indiana don’t have the option of buying carryout alcohol on Sunday.
This ongoing issue came up again in the last session of the General Assembly. As of July 1, there was a new statute put into place, but it is still not giving carryout retailers a permit to sell alcohol on Sunday.
The new statute does, however, require that identification be shown on every alcoholic beverage that is purchased for off-premises consumption. In other words, it does not matter what age a person looks, they will be carded – every time.
Those that don’t have a state-issued ID must show two forms of ID plus fill out a Statement of Age Form. The form requests basic information, such as name, address, phone number, Social Security number, etc.
Along with the form, a consent form must be signed declaring that the signatory has a clear understanding that if the form is falsified, it could result in a possible $500 fine, 60 days in jail, loss of license or mandatory enrollment into a drug and alcohol treatment program.
Supporters of granting retailers permits for Sunday alcohol sales say that unlike other states that sell alcohol seven days a week, like Michigan, Indiana has been missing out on a revenue gain of about $9 million per year. Grant Monihan of the Indiana Retail Council says that expanding alcohol sales would also provide convenience to customers.
“Although going to neighboring states may not affect Indianapolis directly, people that live in Richmond go to Ohio and Lake County folks go to Illinois,” said John Elliott, public affairs manager at Kroger. “Revenue generated from Sunday sales in Indiana would go into our treasury. All cities and counties in Indiana are affected by this.”
Those who are against this new law say Indiana is already spending much more than $9 million to contest underage drinking under the existing law. According to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, underage drinking costs the United States $68 billion in 2007 and Hoosiers $1.4 billion in 2007, which was a slight increase from the $1.3 billion in 2005.
“Making alcohol more convenient to those at-risk drinkers is not in any community’s best interest,” said Nancy Beals, project coordinator for Drug-Free Marion County.
In addition to combating under age drinking, Beals says Hoosiers need to continue to educate the public, as well as legislators, on the misuse of alcohol since 25 percent of the population consumes 75 percent of the alcohol.
Above and beyond discussing revenue created and convenience for customers, Beals believes the public needs to consider why alcohol is regulated in any case and how it alters thinking and control of ones actions, affecting cognitive ability. She went on to say that because of Indiana’s lack of alcohol sales on Sundays, we enjoy a lower alcohol-related crash rate.
Alcohol sales on Sunday are proposing to be more a problem for those who abuse it than for those who consume it responsibly.
“For those who consume alcohol responsibly, we can plan ahead if we’re going to have a dinner party or something. People aren’t considering the additional costs of police and security guards that Hoosiers will have to pay if sales are expanded to Sundays,” said Beals. “Plus, will generating $9 million in revenue really offset the $1.4 billion that it costs Hoosiers to combat underage drinking?”
In other efforts to build community support for the expansion of alcohol sales on Sunday, The Alliance of Responsible Alcohol Retailers has come up with a grassroots campaign titled “Change It Indiana.”
The effort has generated virtually 50,000 signatures for the online petition of supporting Sunday sales. The campaign also has an ongoing list of retail supporters, such as: Circle K, Kroger and CVS.