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Indiana judge rules that cold beer isn't a constitutional right for Hoosiers

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On Monday, a federal Indianapolis judge decided that cold beer is not a constitutional right for Indiana residents. Today, the Indy Channel website (ABC news affiliate) reports that Chief Judge Richard Young handed down a 34-page decision to uphold a current Indiana law banning convenience stores and grocery stores from selling cold beer.

Currently, Indiana law only allows liquor stores and taverns to sell “chilled” beer. Other retailers can only sell their beer at room temperature. The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (IPCA) filed a lawsuit against the state in May 2013. They argued the state favored one class of retailer over another. According to the ruling, if grocery stores and convenience stores sell cold beer, alcohol sales would increase and make it more difficult to enforce liquor laws.

The Indiana Business Journal reported that Judge Young ruled that overturning current law would allow more outlets of available cold beer to underage drinkers. He also states that liquor stores and taverns operate under stricter guidelines for selling alcohol than convenience stores and other retailers.

The IPCA mentioned that convenience stores can sell cold wine, which has more alcohol content than a can of beer. They claim it could be confusing to customers and isn’t a fair practice. The association hasn’t decided if they will appeal. Had the judge overturned the current state law, the association said they had 1,200 stores ready to start selling cold beer. The NPR Facebook page says Indiana is the only state that uses room temperatures to regulate alcohol sales. For now, if Hoosiers want to buy cold beer, they will have to continue buying it from either a liquor store or tavern.

The NPR also mentions that Thorntons, a convenience store chain founded in Indiana hasn’t opened a new Indiana store since 2006. Thorntons claims it is because of Indiana’s liquor law. Thorntons will continue expansion plans into Kentucky and Ohio.

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