It's the American Way...YeeHah!!
ATLANTA -- An anti-drunk driving organization and a mother who lost a son to a drunk driver are livid after finding out a southwest Atlanta package store sells liquor and cups of ice through its drive-thru.
A store employee told Channel 2’s Tom Jones that it is an American right for people to buy liquor and a cup of ice to drink on their way home.
State regulations clearly show it is a state violation for package stores to sell anything but bags of ice. That means cups of ice are not allowed. An employee at one liquor store told Channel 2 that’s un-American.
“It’s the American way,” said employee Chris Melton.
Melton works at Ben Hill Package Store and said he is not happy state alcohol agents are forcing the store to stop selling cups of ice.
“These cats, they have a hard day at work, they come to the liquor store, buy a cup of ice…most people. I’m not saying all of them. Before they get home, they’re gonna drink and drive,” said Melton.
He said a message on the store’s cash register urges customers not to drink and drive.
“To give somebody a cup of ice along with the sale of alcohol, there’s something wrong about that,” said Executive Director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Latresse Snead.
Snead said it is clear customers plan to drink and drive when buying a cup of ice and alcohol, especially when purchasing cups at the drive-thru.
“They don’t know if that person that they just sold that alcohol to has kids in the car,” said Snead.
Someone phoned Snead about the store selling cups of ice and liquor through the drive-thru and she told Channel 2.
Channel 2 sent a WSB-TV employee through the drive-thru and videotaped him buying a cup of ice for 15 cents and a bottle of liquor. Channel 2 showed the video to State Alcohol Enforcement Chief David Dyal.
“They can’t do that and then you have people drinking in the open which is a violation of the open container law,” said Dyal.
Dyal sent agents to the store and after noticing an ice cooler for the to-go cups; the store was told to get rid of it and received a warning for the violation.
The store’s owner said he had no idea he couldn’t sell cups of ice. He said no one informed him.
Melton told Channel 2 the ice cup prohibition won’t change his customers’ habits.
“They’re going to do it the American way and have a drink while they’re driving,” said Melton.
Donzella James was appalled to hear the store has sold liquor and cups of ice. James’ 18-year-old son was killed not far from the liquor store by a 5-time drunk driver who had open containers in his truck.
James reacted to Melton’s comments. “I wish you had asked him, ‘What if your child gets killed or your loved one gets killed because of somebody who buys a cup in here and has a drink in here on the way home,” said James.
The Georgia Alcohol Dealer’s Association disputes the state’s interpretation of the regulation banning cups of ice. It thinks stores can sell cups of ice as long as there are lids on the cups, which it thinks would make the cups packaged.
The Revenue Department says the Dealer’s Association is wrong and only bags of ice can be sold.