Beer to your front door? Alcohol delivery bills advance in Louisiana

Louisiana lawmakers debate allowing alcohol delivery. (Source: Pixabay)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Two bills that would allow retailers to deliver alcohol to doorsteps are now headed to the Louisiana Senate floor after a judiciary committee approved the bill Tuesday, May 14.

Belle Chasse Republican Chris Leopold’s bill would allow grocery and liquor stores to hire their own drivers to deliver alcohol, as long as it comes in a factory-sealed bottle and the recipient does not live on a college campus.

The drivers, who would have to be W-2 employees and not independent contractors, would have to carry a special server’s permit and would check IDs upon delivery. They would be allowed to deny service to clients who are clearly drunk.

“If someone is going to order a bottle of wine, whether they drive to the store and pick it up or it’s delivered, I don’t know that it makes a whole lot of difference,” Drizly alcohol delivery representative, Alton Ashy, said.

Some lawmakers say the concept could cut down on drunk driving, though that did not pacify the entire committee.

“So somebody who is sitting at home who’s had too much to drink, so let’s continue to support their alcoholism?” Sen. Karen Carter Peterson asked. “Yeah, we keep them off the roads so they’re not killing anybody, which is illegal, but it also opens up another issue.”

The other bill, by Shreveport Republican Rep. Thomas Carmody, would expand the service to third-party deliverers. It would allow those drivers to deliver beer and wine along with a food order.

But lawmakers limited the bill in prior committee meetings so it only applied to W-2 employees, essentially preventing UberEATS drivers from making alcohol deliveries because most ride-share drivers are independent contractors who sign 1099 tax documents.

Waitr does, however, employ most drivers through a W-2.

Because alcohol is a controlled substance, any accident involving its delivery could open the door for loophole insurance lawsuits that might force accident victims to spend years in court.

“There is a level of comfort in dealing with W-2, actual employees of a company versus independent contractors,” Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, said. “We did this in a way that it was the most coherent and defensible way to make sure that if something happens, you’re covered.”

A delivery service that maintains W-2 employees could still make those deliveries under Carmody’s bill, although that’s an uncommon practice. A pizza delivery driver, for example, who is employed by the restaurant they work for, could deliver beer or wine, with the proper training.

Lawmakers say the two bills could lay the groundwork for expanded third-party delivery in the future.

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