The Alabama Legislature passed legislation allowing convenience stores to sell alcohol through drive-thru and walk-up windows.
House Bill 119 (HB 119) was sponsored by State Rep. Gil Isbell (R-Gadsden).
On Thursday, the House approved Senate changes to the bill.
“This is the drive-thru or walk-up bill,” Isbell said. “What this does is to allow convenience stores to sell beer and wine through drive-thru or walk-up windows. The Senate amendment allows curbside delivery. This is limited to only wine and beer. There [are] no drive-thru package stores.”
State Rep. Reed Ingram (R-Montgomery) said, “It is a bad bill in my opinion because it does not prevent teenagers from getting alcohol as long as there is one 21-year-old in the car.
“This is 24 hours a day. This is a negative for our state … Is the bill going to contribute to a better quality of life for people in our state? No, it will not. Will it save lives? No. Will it decrease DUIs? No.”
Isbell said that “during the pandemic, people were able to buy alcohol curbside from stores and restaurants, and they want that same convenience now.” When Ingram stated that “we are not in a pandemic,” Isbell replied, calling this “a quality-of-life issue.”
“People expect convenience,” Isbell stated.
Ingram said that it is easier for a clerk to see that a person walking into the store is intoxicated. They can’t tell whether someone is intoxicated or not when they go through the drive-thru window.
“It comes down to personal responsibility sometimes,” Isbell said.
In addition to Ingram, several other representatives stated their concerns about the bill.
“This is a terrible bill, and my fear is that young people and irresponsible people are going to die because of this bill,” said State Rep. Rich Wingo (R-Tuscaloosa).
“I do want to make sure that we keep safeguards in place, so we don’t have a free-for-all,” said Juandalynn Givan (D-Birmingham). “These people are already doing [curbside alcohol sales].
“We are not here to be the moral compass of the people of Alabama. We are not to legislate morality.”
State Rep. David Standridge (R-Hayden) said, “I am opposed to this bill. I don’t think we should do anything to encourage the use of alcohol. I spent 21 years [in law enforcement]. We used to get calls from convenience store clerks telling us to come get this guy because he was obviously inebriated walking into the store to buy more alcohol. They could not [determine] that if they drove up to a window.
“The commissioner of the ABC Board is not supportive of this bill, right?”
“He is not supportive,” Isbell said. “He has an issue with the oversight on this.”
In support of the bill, State Rep. Berry Forte (D-Eufaula) said, “I am 100% for your bill. I live near the state line, and George has had this for years.” Isbell mentioned that Florida also has drive-thru and walk-up alcohol sales.
The House voted to concur with the legislation 46-34 with seven members abstaining.
The bill now goes to Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey for her consideration. The legislature voted to adjourn without using its last remaining legislative day, so if the governor vetoes this bill, it will end there until the 2023 session.
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