Wine bottle law, sought by restaurant operators, picks up Senate supportPIERRE — An effort is under way to ease South Dakota’s laws regarding wine at restaurants.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — An effort is under way to ease South Dakota’s laws regarding wine at restaurants.
Sen. Bob Gray, RPierre, is asking the Legislature to let people take their own bottles of wine into restaurants to drink with their meals. He also wants them to be able to take unfinished bottles with them when they leave.
Both currently are violations of state alcohol laws.
The Senate committee on commerce unanimously endorsed Gray’s proposal Tuesday. His plan also would allow a restaurant to charge a corkage fee for wine brought into the establishment.
The legislation, Senate Bill 62, could be up for consideration by the full Senate as early as Thursday afternoon.
Gray said he was contacted by people from several of the major restaurants in Pierre. They told him that customers visiting South Dakota, such as groups of hunters, have wanted to bring their own choices of wine to dinners. While legal back home, it isn’t here.
State law currently doesn’t allow a person to consume alcohol in an establishment with an on-sale alcohol license if the alcohol wasn’t purchased there.
The committee, on behalf of the Licensed Beverage Dealers of South Dakota, amended the legislation so that a customer could also carry out an unfinished bottle of wine purchased in the establishment.
“It’s purely permissive,” Tim Dougherty, a Sioux Falls lawyer representing the beverage dealers, said.
The re-corking provision would be an exemption from South Dakota’s prohibition against open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles.
Restaurants could use special bags, in which the unfinished bottles could be placed.
“There are some bills that just make sense, and this is one of those bills,” said Sen. Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls. “In this situation everybody is a winner.”
She said the establishment gets to sell a bottle, the customer gets a better deal with a bottle rather than multiple glasses, and there’s less incentive for the customer to finish the bottle before driving home. She said approximately 35 other states have similar re-corking laws.