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Georgia Eyes Earlier Sunday Alcohol Sales

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Georgia lawmakers have moved to allow alcohol sales earlier than had been allowed in the past.  Under the new law, restaurants and retailers will be allowed to begin selling alcohol at 11 a.m. Previously, sales had only been allowed after 12:30 p.m. Retailers and restaurants believed that these alcohol sales limitations were harming their businesses.

“Laws such as these – commonly known as “blue laws” – were put in place decades ago to encourage attendance at religious services,” said Cory Yager, a criminal law attorney with the law firm of Kohn & Yager in Atlanta.  “Many states have begun repealing these laws, and in some cases research has shown that these repeals and earlier times for alcohol access have led to increases in crimes.”

The change in Georgia was initially designed to only cover restaurants, in the hope that allowing alcohol sales would drive a larger brunch crowd. It was extended to include retail outlets prior to being approved. With an increase in people going out to eat and being able to consume alcohol comes the near certainty that someone will consume too much and attempt to drive.

Georgia, like other states, is extremely strict in its enforcement of driving under the influence laws.  The legal limit for blood-alcohol content in Georgia is 0.08, but only for people over the age of 21.  For people under the age of 21, that limit drops to 0.02, which represents a nearly zero tolerance policy. Yager says that the Georgia legislature decided that if you weren’t old enough to purchase or consume alcohol, there is really no reason for you to be caught driving with alcohol in your system.

“Being cited for driving under the influence can mean a difficult legal battle, but law enforcement also has procedures that they must follow to ensure that any arrest made is valid and supported by evidence,” Yager said. He noted that the equipment used to measure blood-alcohol content must be properly tested and certified and maintained, and that any traffic stop involving a charge of DUI must be a valid stop. “The laws are designed to protect other drivers on the road, but they’re also designed to ensure that the rights of all drivers are protected from rights abuses,” said Yager.