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'Booze2Go' Bill Begins Its Legislative Journey

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Driving home with sealed mixed drinks or other alcoholic libations as part of “to go” meals moved closer Tuesday to becoming a permanent option in Florida.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee became the first legislative panel to support a proposal to put into law an executive order from Governor Ron DeSantis which allows restaurants to include alcoholic drinks or bottles as part of take-home meals.

Bill sponsor Jennifer Bradley amended her proposal on Tuesday to limit the “to go” option to licensed restaurants, cap individual container sizes at 32 ounces and require drivers to place the drinks in locked compartments, vehicle trunks or in areas behind the last upright seats in vehicles.

Bradley calls the proposal a lifeline for restaurants.

“It doesn’t appear that the takeout environment is going to be any less important to them going forward, as older folks maybe continue to be less likely to go back or maybe folks who’ve just decided that they’re really enjoyed the takeout experience that they hadn’t exercised beforehand.”

DeSantis included the option in a March executive order to help provide a source of revenue for restaurants, which had been forced to scale back their operations during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There were a lot of restaurants that were doing the takeout and the carryout orders; I allowed them to deliver alcohol,” said the governor last May. “I think that’s been pretty popular; we’re probably gonna keep that going – maybe we’ll have the legislature change the law on that. But I think that’s been good.”

In September, he backed the idea of allowing carryout alcoholic beverages to become permanent.

A similar proposal is scheduled to go before the House Regulatory Reform Subcommittee on Thursday.