Guest Editorial: Cocktails To-Go Should Be A “Go” for Arizona Lawmakers

Arizona residents are still split to support the passage of the “Cocktails to-go” bill. 

By Valley Girl

Arizona legislators are looking to pass a new bill that allows restaurants and bars to service to-go cocktails. Most local restaurants and bars are all for the bill passing but residents are concerned with the risks of DUI’s and impaired drivers that could come if the bill is passed. For restaurants, this to-go service had made serving the public during the pandemic accessible and kept business afloat. This service was essential for businesses that rely on liquor sales for a large number of their profits. Although bars and restaurants could continue benefiting from this to-go service there are of course opposing sides.

During the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order that would allow establishments to sell to-go cocktails. The bill came to a halt when a group of bar owners spoke out about the risk in this service and took it to court. The case settled with the judge with the bar owners on the manner. And rightfully so there should be concerns since according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; every day at least 30 Americans are killed in drunk driving accidents. In Arizona alone, there were nearly 4,000 deaths due to drunk driving accidents during 2018. With numbers already being so high, there is reason to assume that with the passing of the to-go liquor bill that these numbers could escalate.

Now, businesses have taken the initiative in making sure that when these drinks leave their facility the mason jar-like containers are sealed and packed to go. Other places have even eliminated including the alcohol altogether and sending just the ingredients mixed to allow customers to pour in their own liquor at home. As restaurants and bars are doing their part in minimizing impaired driving it is up to the integrity of the customers to avoid drunk driving. The integrity of the consumer is hit or miss so the bill is seeing a backlash in accordance with citizen safety. Currently, the bill was passed by the House Commerce Committee and will find its way to the House of Representatives for due processing once voted upon.

This bill is a positive step forward if the state hopes to keep small businesses, bars and restaurants alive. A majority of restaurants and bars see their profits through liquor sales. As the pandemic continues people are aching for glimpses of normalcy and to-go cocktail services allow for that experience. Additionally, local businesses are still impacted by the pandemic as most of their food is to-go and are missing out on potential profits when customers are unable to purchase cocktails to-go as well. It is important during these times for laws to be in the aid of the businesses, not hinder, especially for small businesses. However, lawmakers should also include a range of guidelines and rules for establishments to follow independently of if customers follow the “no-drinking-driving” law. This bill could bring positive change to the community if safety and integrity are emphasized through the process.