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Legal fight brewing over ABC alcohol deliveries

A group representing private package stores is threatening legal action over ABC’s plan to implement home deliveries.

Blurred image of shelves with alcoholic drinks in supermarket.

Alabama’s private package stores and restaurants are gearing up for a legal fight with Alabama’s ABC Board over the issue of home delivery of alcoholic beverages. 

In a press release sent out Wednesday, the Alabama Beverage Licensees Association said the ABC Board’s plan to implement home delivery was a blatant violation of state laws, and after failing to receive an adequate response during a recent board meeting, ABLA plans to use “the judicial system” to address the problem. 

“ABC’s intentional disregard to the Alabama law, put in place by Legislature and signed by Governor Ivey, is extremely alarming,” ABLA president Jim Hurston said in the release. “Our several attempts to stop them have been met with a disregard for the law. Since no governing body can stop a state agency from breaking the law, we are forced to enter the judicial system to protect our businesses.” 

The issue is this: ABLA and its legal team, led by Montgomery attorney Joe Espy, say the state law passed last year that allows for home delivery only does so for licensees, meaning businesses that are required to obtain a license from the state in order to sell alcohol. Since ABC Stores are not required to obtain such a license, and because ABC Stores were not specifically included in the home delivery bill, ABLA says that clearly means they can’t offer such a service. 

The ABC Board’s position on this appears to be a yawn. 

According to the release, after ABLA’s attorneys presented ABC’s legal team with the statutes and their interpretation of the law, the ABLA’s press release said ABC’s attorneys essentially told the attorneys for the package stores not to worry because the ABC deliveries would have little impact on private businesses.

Outside of a court ruling, the ABC Board has full discretion on how its stores conduct business, and courts have historically been hesitant to intervene in matters in which the Board has ruled. 

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If that’s the case in this instance, however, the ABLA states emphatically that it will cause some private package stores and restaurants to go out of business.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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