Florida Bill would allow liquor sales in grocery stores

CREATED Feb 26, 2014

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FLORIDA-- Some Florida lawmakers are hoping to relax liquor sale laws in the state, and allow grocery stores and supermarkets to sell hard liquor.

Currently, state law only allows wine and beer sales in grocery stores.  If shoppers want hard liquor, like vodka or whiskey, they must purchase it at a stand-alone liquor store, or a grocery store with a separate entrance for the liquor area.

"That just creates additional regulation, additional cost and frankly- for a lot of people- an inconvenience," said Sen. Bill Galvano (R-26th), one of the bill's sponsors.

Galvano said the existing law went into place shortly after Prohibition and is outdated.

However, some worry changing the law would make it easier for minors to access alcohol.

"When you get to a larger store, it's much easier for underage people to blend into the crowd," said Deb Comella with the Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida. 

"When you have to buy liquor in a liquor store, you're in a very limited space and you walk in and generally they know who is in the store and it's much easier for them to keep track," she continued.

Galvano said if people wanted to curb minors' access to alcohol, the law that should be changing is the one that allows minors into free standing liquor stores. 

"I think maybe it'd put a lot of smaller stores out of business," said shopper Nate Letendere, who believes he'll still be able to find what he needs, regardless of if the law changes.

"There's liquor stores everywhere anyways," he said.