Proceeding cautiously with curbside cocktails

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A year ago, many states, including New York, threw a lifeline to struggling restaurants by temporarily allowing the sale of curbside cocktails. Rules varied.

Alcohol sales can make or break restaurants, which often operate on a razor-thin profit margin.

Now, the Associated Press reports that some lawmakers in Missouri, for instance, are looking to make the temporary sales permanent. The rule was set to expire at the end of March in several states.

The goal is to continue to help struggling restaurants.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, one opponent of the legislation, rightly has concerns about the possibility of an increase in drunk driving.

“We are concerned that a permanent change to allow curbside alcohol sales could violate open container laws and lead to an increase in drunk driving,” MADD National President Helen Witty told the Chicago Tribune last June. “Alcohol sales must recognize the horrific consequences of drunk driving and take all possible precautions to discourage and prevent drinking and driving.”

AP said that under the new Missouri legislation, restaurants would need to put mixed drinks in tamper-proof, sealed containers to help prevent drinking while driving. Customers who want alcohol also would have to buy food.

Sealed containers with “tamper-proof” lids is one limit intended to keep the public safe. Others likely are needed, possibly limiting the number of cocktails to one per meal ordered and limit where they must be stored in vehicles.

No limits placed on to-go cocktails will guarantee drivers don’t imbibe before arriving at their destination. But they can go a long way toward discouraging drinking and driving.

We do hope that extended laws also require authorities to keep track of instances of DWI-related wrecks and arrests. If lawmakers see the policy is causing a problem, they could quickly act to rescind it.

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