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The convenience store industry, having been thwarted repeatedly in its lobbying efforts, is asking the courts to change state law restricting the sales of cold beer to package liquor stores. This is a restriction that should remain in place.

The Indiana General Assembly has been whittling away at the alcohol laws that favor package liquor stores over supermarkets, convenience stores and other retail establishments that sell alcoholic beverages for carry-out.

One remaining restriction, though, is on sales of cold beer. 

Indiana is the only state that gives liquor stores a monopoly on retail cold beer sales. And with liquor stores closed on Sundays, people who want cold beer need to plan ahead or slip across the state line.

In its lawsuit filed earlier this month, the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association claims the restriction on cold beer sales violates the equal protection guarantees of both the U.S. and Indiana constitutions.

If that's the case, why should Indiana have any alcohol sales restrictions at all? There's a very good reason, one that risks being forgotten in the march of time since the end of Prohibition.

Homer Simpson's line, "To alcohol! The cause of ... and solution to ... all of life's problems," is worth remembering because it rings so true. People who drink to drown their sorrows often learn too late that their drinking causes even more sorrows.

Alcohol fuels all sorts of bad behavior, and the ready availability of cold beer could fan those flames.

Indiana, like other states, put laws in place to restrict the sales of alcohol because consumption can be dangerous under certain circumstances. In the case of cold beer, that includes ready availability for motorists to consume as soon as they leave the store.

Making cold beer readily available at convenience stores and supermarkets would greatly increase its availability, and thus the likelihood of the beer getting in to the wrong hands.

This is a restriction that should remain in place. Existing Indiana law should be upheld.

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.