Setting a time limit on the sale of cold beer is just one of the issues being looked at by the State Alcoholic Beverages Commission for possible changes in the so-called “Dram Shop” law. “Dram Shop” coverage is insurance required of bars and restaurants to cover them if a patron is involved in an accident after consuming alcohol at their establishment. Lynn Walding the director of the Alcoholic Beverages Division says cold beer sales were one of the things discussed in statewide hearings on the issue. He says convenience stores aren’t required to have dram coverage, so a lot of bar owners want them included too. Walding says he’s not sure if the commission is gonna deem that that’s their rule to expand the coverage, but they may recommend that cold beer sales be stopped at a certain time of night. Walding says the commission is putting together a paper with recommendations on the issue based on the hearings. He says another suggestion from retailers is more training for employees. He says they suggest that the training be offered on a voluntary basis, with incentives, to help employees know when to cut someone off. Walding says there’s also support of banning “all-you-can-drink” specials. He says the best way to reduce premiums is to reduce the number of O-W-I arrests, and he says the best way to do that is to end all-you-can-drink specials. Walding says retailers also want to change the rule that sets the rates for dram coverage based on the dollar amount of retail sales. He says when an establishment has nickel pitchers, that counts as a nickels worth of alcohol sold, while a restaurant that sells a 30-dollar bottle of wine is credited for 30 dollars. He says the bar owners say the risk should be based on the amount of alcohol poured, not the dollar amount of sales. Walding says they’ve also found out in there isn’t much data on alcohol-related accidents and their cost. He says the amount of payouts by insurance companies are proprietary and aren’t shared with the public. He says the commission will probably ask that that information be made public. Walding says the commission hopes to have its recommendations completed by mid to late October, with a final version ready by November. He says this would give legislators enough time to review the issues and propose any changes in legislation.
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