Colorado To-go Alcohol Sales Rise, Along with Alcohol-Related Fatalities

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Marleny Hucks
Marleny Hucks
Marlene (or Marleny as she is known in Spanish) is a mentor, teacher, cross-cultural trainer, storyteller, writer, and for those who have been under her leadership or simply sat across the table from her, she is a mirror of destiny. Her love of word and image were formed early on by one of her heroes, Dr. Seuss. If you asked those who know her well, they would describe her a compassionate, funny, wise, curious, honest, real, strong, sensitive and totally human which comes out as she teaches and writes. She sees all of life, even the most mundane, through faith and believes that who we become as we live this side of the veil is what matters not the journey itself or our circumstances. Marleny Hucks has spent her life crossing bridges. She comes from a diverse background of ministry roles and contexts as well as has transitioned in and out of the business world. Having lived outside the country as well as traveled extensively she has a fascination with culture causes her to live her life within a global mosaic no matter where her feet are planted. Marlene currently lives in South Carolina with her husband David, who owns a news company but who she says is a “crime fighter”, bringing light into darkness in their systems of their city. Marleny currently works as a content management specialist covering Myrtle Beach News for MyrtleBeachSC News.

Colorado has been a focus in the entrepreneurial world. It is a hotspot for its boundless opportunities for those owning liquor stores, breweries, bars, pubs, and other places where alcoholic drinking can be bought and taken home. With more than 400 craft breweries and numerous distilleries and vineyards, the liquor scene is truly diverse, especially as of late when a new niche is thriving. Denver hosts the largest share of bars in the State, contributing to the 2,500 establishments in Colorado. During the pandemic, to-go alcohol sales and takeout alcoholic offerings were allowed due to the significant revenue potential that could break the deadlock for businesses that were seriously affected by the regulations. This permission emerged as a one-size-fits-all solution to ease some of the financial struggles of restaurant enterprises.

Senate Bill 24-020 would change the laws in Colorado on take-out alcohol sales permanently, extending them past the current deadline of 2025. Meanwhile, issues like drunk driving and DUI are increasing and raising concerns over the rising average alcohol intake and unfortunate consequences.

Understandably, there is no easy answer to this situation. While the number of alcohol-related deaths and fatalities has overtaken overdose fatalities in Colorado, restaurant proprietors are associating to-go drink sales with the guiding light that helped them navigate the unprecedented challenges witnessed.

What’s the actual situation in the state of Colorado and will Senate Bill 24-020 impact the alcohol-related deaths that much? This is the question weighing heavily on many.

Drunk driving cases numbers have spiked

Traffic fatalities in Colorado are on the rise. In 2022, the Centennial State reported the loss of the lives of over 764 in traffic collisions and accidents. This is the most significant highway death number registered during the last 41 years according to the Department of Transportation. They confirmed that impaired driving only accounted for 286 fatalities. These numbers are raising concerns that a this trend might continue.

Drunk driving often results in grave and even irreversible repercussions. Unfortunately, rarely only impacts the guilty driver who allowed themselves to indulge in such a risky undertaking. Often both loved and innocent people are affected. The direct after effects of a collision, distracted driving, and other highly possible mishaps are usually the same. They can take numerous disastrous forms, from disfigurement to paralysis and from brain damage to death. One thing for sure is that a legal maze is ahead for all involved.

Drunk driving consequences

With the rise in the average alcohol intake for Colorado inhabitants, DUI cases are bound to jump as well. First-time offenders who may not see such legal consequences coming. The blood concentration level of 0.05% serves as the limit for which one can be charged with Drinking and Driving in Colorado. This can include fines, license suspension, ignition interlock, community service, or even jail. These serious charges call for the help of an experienced DUI attorney to represent the interests of the accused.   

Dealing with DUI arrests due to drunk driving can have irreparable and costly consequences. As a result institutions and the larger audience are making efforts to create a growing awareness. The increased tolerance towards drinking through the legalization of go-to and takeout services could misleadingly depict related felonies as less severe. In reality, the rising death tolls, court processes, weighty charges, and other aftermaths have just become more worrying.    

Colorado follows in the footsteps of early drinking law adopters

Casual and frequent drinking at home, in family, with friends, or any other contexts that don’t necessarily involve celebrations isn’t limited to Colorado, as numerous other states make tremendous examples of spaces where regular beverage consumption is a commonality. Alcoholic drinks are being sold in sealed containers after ensuring complete compliance with the laws in states like New York, Washington, Texas, and Florida, where to-go cocktails represent permanent sales.

Illinois, California, and the list of debating states goes on

Colorado and other states like Illinois and California are currently assessing the tabled proposition of enabling sellers to offer alcoholic beverages for delivery and takeout. For these instances, to-go drinks turned out to be instrumental in helping sellers boost their revenues in light of the disastrous post-pandemic economic landscape.

Several industry representatives emphasize that the offered business licenses have fueled a resurgence of restaurant-related revenue. They believe this enabled job promotion and heightened employment rates, among other necessary elements for a healthier financial system. Obviously, there is a growing demand that drives sales. Yet, every day that brings inhabitants closer to the sunny and warm season registers higher alcohol sales.

Underage drinking – limitations and obstructions exist

What’s yet to be licensed is the sale of beverages in bar-offered glasses. Leaving with a glass of wine or beer pint is illegal. The Centennial State is renowned for boasting some of the most minor national taxes on wine, beer, and liquor. However, the same cannot be said about the recipients to whom they’re sold. Currently, a drink can only be served or delivered by an employee aged over 21. This is the same age criteria being applicable to the purchasers. Those who procure and offer alcoholic drinks to individuals who are yet to meet the legal age for drinking may suffer severe legal consequences. One such consequence could be in fines ranging from $500 to $5,000. Also, penalties could often be subjected to changes depending on the involved demonstrable factors.

Colorado prosecutes those who furnish or sell alcohol to purchasers under 21 years of age. Drinking in Colorado includes everything from spirits to champagne to malts. There is no difference regarding the type of alcoholic product consumed and no exception is made by law.

An exception is being made 

It’s noteworthy that those aged between 18 and 21 may be served serve alcoholic beverages in bars and restaurants if an adult accompanies them. This is yet another instance that can become the subject of debate when tabling insights showing the impact of Senate Bill 24-020 and the law on the number of casualties resulted from drinking and conducting felonies.

The future

Legislation could prevent laws from contributing to fatalities and drive the death toll downward. However, studies must be conducted and taken into consideration. Soon, we’ll know whether the proposal to legalize to-go alcohol sales and delivery of alcoholic beverages permanently will be included in the official budget.

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