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Indiana report says drugstores, grocers best at not selling liquor to minors

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Backers of bills that would allow cold beer to be sold at drug, grocery and convenience stores are touting the recently released results of an Indiana State Excise Police alcohol compliance report.

The study shows that, among retailers, package liquor stores have the highest violation rate in selling alcohol to minors, at 7.72 percent. Grocery stores have a 4.65 percent non-compliance rate, and drugstores’ rate is 2.94 percent.

Hotels, meanwhile, came in at 21.95 percent, while restaurants had a 13.88-percent violation rate.

Those pushing for changes to the liquor law say the liquor stores’ number discredits what could be used as an argument against it: Sales are better regulated by liquor stores. The bills also would allow drug, grocery, convenience and liquor stores to sell alcohol on Sunday.

“The undisputable fact remains that … members in the convenience, drug and grocery store business rank among the best in the state when it comes to stopping sales to minors,” Indiana Retail Council President Grant Monahan said in a press release.

But opponents of the law pointed out that the rates of violation across the board dropped last year from 2009 levels, something they attribute to a state law requiring everyone purchasing alcohol—regardless of age—be carded. Lawmakers now are taking steps to change that law.

“While other associations may wish to ‘rank’ the numbers on non-compliance to further their political and legislative agendas, the percentage points of failure rates between retailers are minimal,” John Livengood, president of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, said in an e-mail.

Both House and Senate versions of bills on the liquor issues failed to be heard in their committees, but supporters are hopeful similar language can be added to another bill that remains alive.

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