Mar 22, 2021 - News

Iowa lawmakers consider bill legalizing third-party alcohol delivery

Illustration of beer pouring from a smartphone into a pint glass.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

If you've ever wanted UberEats to deliver a margarita alongside your nachos — your wish may soon be granted.

Driving the news: Iowa legislators are considering a bill allowing third-party delivery companies to deliver alcohol from retailers, including grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants.

  • Right now, retailers can deliver booze themselves — but Uber or DoorDash are prohibited from this practice.

It may seem like a win-win situation at a time when restaurants and breweries need as much support as they can get.

Yes, but: There are concerns about who's liable if a teenager or already intoxicated person gets one of these boozy deliveries, said Jessica Dunker, president of the Iowa Restaurant Association.

  • "The last thing we want is 16 year olds ordering 10 tapas and a gallon of margaritas and having it delivered on their parents' accounts," Dunker said.

Dunker said her association would like to see two things:

  • Require delivery companies to sign a contract with restaurants before delivering food and drinks from them — an effort to address issues reported nationwide that some couriers are delivering food without restaurants' knowledge.
  • Request that delivery companies acquire a liquor license from the state, which holds them accountable if anything goes wrong.

The state of play: Major retailers like Hy-Vee, Fareway and Casey's have already shown their support for the bill.

What they're saying: Bill manager Rep. Mike Sexton (R-Fort Dodge) said he understands the restaurant association's concerns, but that additional contract requirements would hurt the bill's ability to pass.

  • He does support requiring third-party companies to acquire an alcohol delivery license and holding them liable for any mishaps.
  • "I don't blame [the association] for wanting to put in some liability protection for [restaurants] ... , but the more stuff we add — the heavier the bill gets," Sexton said.

This story has been updated with comments from Rep. Mike Sexton.

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