Alcohol delivery app draws praise, criticism

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana alcohol retailers are raising alarms over a liquor store chain’s decision to offer alcohol delivery through a smartphone app, saying it could make it easier for minors to obtain alcohol.

Indianapolis-based Big Red Liquors has partnered with a Boston startup called Drizly for the app that it hopes will boost delivery sales.

Big Red officials say they have implemented safeguards to ensure the app doesn’t result in deliveries to minors or those already intoxicated. Identification cards will be verified through the app and by delivery drivers. Drivers won’t deliver products to minors or to an environment where use by minors is likely. And they will not deliver to college campuses.

“There is always a human element in alcohol sales,” Matt Bell, a spokesman for Big Red, told the Indianapolis Business Journal. “But we think that this system mitigates risk more than any other system in the nation.”

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers officials say the app could improve safety by keeping impaired drivers in search of alcohol off the roads. But many competitors say they aren’t confident that Big Red can police itself.

“With this customer convenience comes genuine responsibility to sell alcohol to a legal age, and I think it’s a real challenge to deliver on that,” said Grant Monahan, president of the Indiana Retail Council.

Big Red says users of the app will pay a $5 delivery fee. If a driver deems the purchaser to be intoxicated, that person will be charged a $20 restocking fee.

The retailer will not deliver kegs, but that is the only limit on the amount of alcohol that can be delivered.

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