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Indiana Convenience Stores Suing State Over Cold Beer Law

Indiana’s convenience stores are contesting a law in federal court that prohibits them from selling cold beer, saying the current law is irrational and unconstitutional.

Under current law, only liquor stores, taverns, and restaurants can sell cold beer for carryout in Indiana. Convenience stores, grocery stores, and drug stores can sell chilled wine, but not chilled beer.

The convenience store association, headed by director Scot Imus, filed a lawsuit last summer against the state claiming the law violated  the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

“From the state’s standpoint they have to prove that the statute is rational," Imus says, "We don’t think it is. We have the best compliance record when it comes to preventing sales to minors. We’re almost twice as good as liquor stores are- it makes no sense for them to have the exclusive monopoly.”

The plaintiff’s attorney, John Maley, says the current law is too vague and lacks clear guidelines for enforcement.

In court Thursday, the defense argued against loosening restrictions for the sale of cold beer noting that anyone entering a liquor store must be 21 years old and employees must go through permitting and training.

However retired excise police officer Major Robin Poindexter testified that despite those requirements, liquor stores have a worse history of compliance with current law than grocery and convenience stores.

Further testimony is scheduled for Friday but Judge Richard Young is not expected to immediately issue his ruling.

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