Columbia, South Carolina – A new law proposal, which would let people in South Carolina get alcohol delivered to their doorsteps, is now going to the state Senate for consideration.
If passed, this law would allow anyone older than 21 to order drinks like beer, wine, or spirits from shops or via apps such as Doordash and Uber Eats. People who like this idea say it makes getting alcohol easier and more convenient. Big companies like Doordash, Shipt, and Total Wine have been wanting this change for a long time.
Already, 30 states have laws that let alcohol be delivered. But, some are worried this could lead to more thefts and people not drinking safely. After getting approval from the House, the proposal is now moving to the Senate for one last vote. It’s still unclear when this vote will happen.
In the South Carolina State House, there are two competing proposals that would let people in South Carolina buy beer and wine from grocery stores and either pick it up at the store or get it delivered. However, one of these proposals is facing opposition in the Senate, especially from state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, who is actively fighting against underage drinking in Columbia.
During a late January meeting where lawmakers were reviewing the proposal, Harpootlian, a Democrat from Richland County, made it clear he would not support the bill.
Senator Harpootlian opposed the bills
Harpootlian then mentioned that he was not against drinking, but he was against making alcohol more accessible.
The Senate’s proposal, known as S. 290, would permit stores to sell liquor, beer, and wine for pickup right outside the store, as well as deliver beer and wine directly to homes. Meanwhile, the House’s version, H. 3631, would only allow for pickup outside the store and didn’t come up for discussion that day.
Harpootlian expressed his opposition due to South Carolina’s high rate of deaths caused by drunk driving. He believes that allowing alcohol to be picked up curbside could lead to more drunk driving incidents.
The senator from Richland County also expressed concerns that the proposal might lead to an increase in underage drinking, especially in Columbia’s Five Points area, known for its nightlife and student population.
The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division shared similar worries. They believe the bill could make it tougher to combat underage drinking, as highlighted in a financial report from the S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.
However, Sarah Cohen from the S.C. Chamber of Commerce voiced support for the bill, highlighting the benefit of making grocery shopping more efficient for customers.
One part of the bill Harpootlian agreed with was an amendment introduced by state Sen. Brad Hutto from Orangeburg. This amendment would ensure that those delivering alcohol to cars or homes are trained to spot fake IDs and recognize if someone is drunk. It also calls for stores to keep a digital record of the customer’s age verification.
Hutto argued that the bill would help people with mobility issues, pointing out that not being able to order all grocery items for pickup diminishes the convenience of pre-arranged grocery collections.
In the end, the bill progressed in the legislative process by a close vote of 3-2, with Harpootlian and Sen. Richard Cash of Anderson opposing its advancement to the full committee.