Bills would expand SC alcohol sales while restricting those who sell it

During the pandemic, many American discovered the ease of getting groceries delivered straight to their doorsteps.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 3:06 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 6, 2023 at 10:31 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - During the pandemic, many American discovered the ease of getting groceries delivered straight to their doorsteps.

But there’s one item South Carolinians can’t put in their carts when they buy online: alcohol.

A bill working its way through the state Senate would change that, allowing South Carolinians 21 and older to purchase sealed beer, wine, and liquor for delivery or curbside pickup, directly from retailers or through third-party delivery services, like DoorDash and Shipt.

Curbside pickup of alcohol was temporarily allowed during the earlier part of the pandemic, through an emergency order Gov. Henry McMaster issued.

But it is no longer permitted, with that order now expired.

“This bill provides needed modernization of the state’s alcohol laws to simply update the way that consumers can choose to receive their alcohol products to match shopping preferences and methods available for other products,” South Carolina Retail Association Executive Director Krista Hinson said.

Retailers would have to obtain special licenses for delivery, which would be limited to certain areas and banned to schools, churches, and dormitories.

A representative from DoorDash told a Senate subcommittee that in other states where this is already legal, the company prohibits delivery to intoxicated people and requires customers show their ID upon delivery and when ordering.

Those would also be required under this bill.

“You must upload a visual of your ID, scan it, both the front and the back. That’s actually verified by a third-party digital technology service that bumps it up against the state driver’s license databases across the country,” DoorDash representative Chad Horrell said, adding 43 states allow for some type of alcohol delivery, and 31 permit third-party delivery.

Another bill would allow people 21 and older to order alcohol at bars and restaurants past TSA security at five South Carolina airports — Charleston International Airport, Columbia Metropolitan Airport, Florence Regional Airport, Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, and Myrtle Beach International Airport — and then drink them anywhere in the terminal.

Consumption is currently limited to the bar or restaurant where the drink was purchased.

“Have other states done this? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone having a drink outside of the actual bar in a restaurant anywhere I’ve ever been,” Sen. Chip Campsen, R – Charleston, asked during a recent Senate Transportation Committee meeting.

“I don’t know that I’ve necessarily seen that either, senator, but I’ve seen a lot of cramped restaurants,” Sen. Sean Bennett, R – Dorchester, answered.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Larry Grooms of Berkeley County, later said some other states have similar airport allowances, including Tennessee.

One last Senate bill, the “Responsible Alcohol Server Training Act,” would impose a training and certification requirement for anyone who serves alcohol in the state, an estimated 32,000 people.

While advocates argue this legislation could save lives, others fear the associated fees — $35 to receive the required training and $15 for a three-year certificate — could be too high.

“I do have some pretty serious concerns about erecting a barrier to entry into an occupation that is otherwise, you know, an early rung on the economic ladder for a lot of people,” Sen. Wes Climer, R – York, said.

The airport bill now awaits a debate on the Senate floor, while the other two are a step behind and are currently under consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee.