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Trendy alcohol-to-go practices could result in legal trouble

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners found themselves forced to adapt to a new normal when it came to their operations. Restaurants, in particular, scrambled to keep their respective enterprises afloat without allowing customers into their establishments. Adaptability combined with “out-of-the-box” thinking provided new options.

To-go alcoholic drinks became trendy in Ohio and throughout the country. The state’s liquor commission passed an emergency order allowing establishments with liquor permits to sell all types of liquor with certain conditions:

  • Purchases are limited to two prepackaged drinks that contain no more than two ounces of alcohol per container
  • All drinks must be closed and remain that way in the customer’s vehicle until they arrive at home, complying with the state’s open container law

While the initial order was set for 120 days, it has become the permanent law of the land in Ohio and numerous other states.

Convenience at a cost?

As with any new and controversial decision, critics will have their say, particularly when it comes to placing potentially accessible alcoholic beverages into cars. Once drivers are out of view of the restaurant staff, nothing can stop them from opening and consuming the drink.

Even someone who resists the urge could be pulled over for a traffic violation, only for the police officer to see the liquor in the car within arm’s reach. Unlike a sealed, unopened bottle of spirits, law enforcement could suspect a lid had been removed for consumption purposes and replaced.

The legal quandary over a legalized practice could lead to serious accusations of drunk driving, open containers, and even underage DUI. All scenarios are serious, potentially life-changing events that require the help of an experienced attorney to minimize any potential consequences.

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