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Point/counterpoint: Should home liquor delivery be legal?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | DECEMBER 13, 2010 7:10 AM

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YES

It certainly seems like an unrealistic, foolish plan that would go horribly wrong. But liquor isn't the only thing delivered to residences, allowing me to reluctantly endorse the service — as long as it's properly regulated.

Until recently, home alcohol delivery was permitted, thanks to an exempting clause from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. But after a change in state administrative law, alcohol delivery service is now illegal.

As liquor establishments continue to suffer with the 21-ordinance, home deliveries would constitute another avenue for profit. Anthony Jones, the owner of Whateva … We Can Deliva, recently told The Daily Iowan that after an state administrative code change, he had to shut down his delivery business because alcohol delivery made up 75 percent of his profits.

One could contest that this is just another avenue for individuals to obtain alcohol illegally; however, alcohol-delivery services could actually protect an establishment from liability issues with the help of a proper invoice system and employee oversight.

Furthermore, I'd hope safety would prove the biggest incentive for a reinstatement of the services.

Drinking and driving is a common issue in Iowa City. If reinstated, liquor-delivery services might prevent inebriated individuals from getting behind the wheel to make a liquor run.

"It keeps a lot of drunk drivers off the road and a lot of accidents from happening," Jones told the DI. "So we definitely try to play our part and keep things like that from happening."

Sure, waiting may be a hassle for the impatient, and some broke college students may complain about delivery fees. But those fees are less expensive than an OWI.

While there are obvious setbacks to alcohol-delivery services, businesses should be able to profit from such services.

— by Taylor Casey

NO

There are myriad benefits to having things home delivered: the ease of acquisition of a product, the time saved in outsourcing a task, the freezing walk averted. As convenient as delivery services may be, however, liquor should be one thing left off that list.

There are several problems with a home-delivery service for alcohol. For instance, were I to order several bottles for delivery but upon arrival was found to be already intoxicated, would the driver have qualms (professional or personal) about completing the transaction? Or would he rather profit and make his delivery worthwhile? In addition, if a delivery driver observes the presence of underage drinkers in the location, does he or she have the authority to check identification?

Yet another issue that must be rectified is the limitation (or lack thereof) on the amount of liquor, wine, or beer being distributed. Should the purchase of numerous kegs and an exorbitant number of bottles of heavy liquor be delivered as readily as a couple bottles of wine? State legislators are set to debate this facet of the issue, along with many other amendments to a potential re-legalization of home alcohol delivery when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

Many advocates of home delivery contend that it keeps intoxicated drivers off the road. But not only does the transport of additional alcohol to already intoxicated persons not sound better, it also smacks of complicitly fomenting substance abuse. With or without alcohol delivery, there will be drunk drivers — however, that is prima facie one of the many reasons Iowa City and UI police patrol traffic.

This is not an issue of tightening government control; it is a matter of regulating a practice that can have several negative consequences, including aiding unlawful activities. And I was under the impression we were trying to curtail binge drinking.

— by Kirsten Jacobsen


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