Better Know a State's Liquor Laws - Indiana Edition

Source: WIkipedia

Being from Pennsylvania, I’m well aware of Blue Laws. Having been around since the colonial period, Blue Laws enforce the restriction of sales of merchandise on Sundays, including sales of liquor and beer. I’m also used to jumping through hoops when it comes to purchasing my beer. Want a six-pack? Well you can get that at a bar. Want a case or keg? You have to go to a distributor. Wine or Liquor? Another store altogether.

I’m used to wild-eyed looks and shaking heads whenever I try to explain our unnecessarily complicated laws to people from outside the state. But even I pause when it comes to a select few other states, one of those being Indiana. Indiana restricts the sale of alcohol on Sundays, which even Pennsylvania now allows on a limited basis. But a law in Indiana dating back to prohibition also restricts the sale of beer based on temperature. Yes, if you want that six-pack of bud frosty, you have to buy it from a liquor store.

What business does a liquor store have to do with beer? In a more egalitarian state, that is a silly question. In Indiana, it means money.

Convenience stores, long at odds with the restrictive laws of Indiana, are trying to rally support to have them changed. Unfortunately they are getting resistance not from sign waving teetotalers but brothers in arms; the liquor stores. Convenience and retail stores looking to sell cold beer have been lobbying the Indiana government, and have now taken to making it an outright federal case. They claim anti-competition where the liquor stores benefit from the current laws. Not only can they (and do) add a markup to beer only they can sell you cold, but allowing sales on Sundays would hurt their sales in general, according to Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers head John Livengood, who argues for the Liquor Stores.

By allowing these antiquated laws to remain on the books, prohibition era gerrymandering is causing two industries that have a common goal, to sell alcohol, to waste resources in a fight to court block one another while the customer sits idly by and getting the best of neither. Here in Pennsylvania, I see a similar fight as our sage governor tries to push past reform that may or may not be beneficial to us consumers, depending on whose interests get a hold of the bill. I can certainly empathize with the Hoosiers and hope that come football season, they have planned ahead.