(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana convenience stores are suing the state in an effort to put cold beer for sale on their store shelves.
Currently, Indiana law only allows convenience stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies to sell beer at room temperature. However, liquor stores are permitted to sell their beer cold.
That, according to a new lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, is a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause. The lawsuit seeking cold beer sales in all stores was filed in U.S. District Court with the State of Indiana named as the defendant.
In the complaint, the IPCA alleges that Indiana statutes and regulations have evolved into an irrational and discriminatory regulatory regime that favors liquor stores over their competitors. The organization says Indiana is the only state in the U.S. that regulates beer sales based on temperature.
“This lawsuit is about fairness, convenience, and promoting competition for the sale of cold beer in a rational and responsible way so that my members can serve their customers,” said IPCA Executive Director Scot Imus. “We are confident that the court will agree with us that it is not the job of government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.”
The IPCA points out that the current law does not apply to wine products, meaning they – even with a higher alcohol content than beer – can be sold cold.
According to the IPCA, Indiana Excise Police compliance figures show that package liquor stores were 138 percent more likely to violate Indiana liquor laws between 2007 and 2012 than convenience, grocery and pharmacy stores. Restaurants and bars – where cold beer can be served – were 1,376 percent more likely to violate the law.
In recent years, Indiana lawmakers have considered allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell refrigerated beer. A proposal failed during the 2012 legislative session, thanks in part to lobbying by the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers whose members are largely liquor stores.