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Indiana prohibition on Sunday retail alcohol sales means no Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve purchases

Indiana prohibition on Sunday retail alcohol sales means no Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve purchases

INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosiers looking for an extra kick in their Christmas Eve eggnog, or hoping to celebrate on New Year's Eve with a Champagne toast, had better plan ahead.

Both Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 fall on Sundays this year for the first time since 2006, and Indiana law still prohibits the retail sale of alcohol on Sundays at grocery, liquor and convenience stores.

That doesn't mean it necessarily will be difficult for those seeking a holiday drink to find one.

Adults age 21 and up can purchase and consume alcohol on Sundays at bars and restaurants — if open — as well as at professional sporting events.

Hoosiers can even purchase alcohol for at-home consumption on Sundays directly from the state's many microbreweries, farm wineries and artisan distilleries, again, if open.

But should you forget Saturday to pick up the beer, wine or spirits that you plan to drink Christmas Eve, don't even think about running out to the liquor store down the street — unless that street takes you to Illinois or Michigan.

Jon Sinder, chairman of the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers, said the liquor store members of his organization have been reminding their customers about the need this year to shop around the Sunday sales ban.

"We encourage everyone to plan ahead when it not only comes to purchasing alcohol for the holidays, but to be safe while celebrating," Sinder said.

"With more people on the roads over the next several weeks and in the celebratory mood that comes with this time of year, please plan ahead, drink responsibly and don't drive drunk."

Hoosiers will be able to purchase alcohol on Christmas Day, whether for carry-out or in-person consumption, thanks to a 2015 law change, enacted by now-Vice President Mike Pence, that eliminated Indiana's longstanding prohibition on all Christmas Day alcohol sales.

In 2018, the General Assembly is expected to consider also rescinding the state's ban on Sunday retail alcohol sales.

State Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn, chairman of the House Public Policy Committee, has said he'll file legislation modeled on the Nov. 14 recommendation of the Alcohol Code Revision Commission that carryout alcohol retailers be authorized to sell between noon and 8 p.m. on Sundays.

It remains to be seen whether Smaltz can advance that proposal without changes, since many lawmakers believe Sundays should be treated no different than the six other days of the week when alcohol can be sold between 7 a.m. and 3 a.m.

The Sunday sales issue also is likely to get tangled up in the debate over whether to end the liquor store monopoly on refrigerated beer sales in Indiana.

The liquor store industry opposes changing the state's unique cold beer restrictions. But Sinder is optimistic that Sunday sales will get enacted into law.

"This hopefully will be the last time Hoosiers will be inconvenienced by Indiana's outdated alcohol laws," he said.


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