Alburquerque Stops Drive Up Alcohol Sales

Liquor Drive-Up Windows Close After 4-year Fight

Published Sunday, August 2, 1998, in the San Jose Mercury News


Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The irony wasn’t lost Friday on most of Gary
Fuller’s customers at the drive-up window of the Last Chance Saloon
& Package Store.

It was the last chance for anybody in New Mexico to buy liquor at
the window. Midnight marked the start of a new state law banning the
sale of alcohol through drive-ups.

“There have been a lot of comments from the customers today,” said
Fuller. “Mostly they’ve said (the ban) is stupid. . . . But they’re
also kind of surprised it finally happened.”

Many New Mexicans were surprised when Gov. Gary Johnson signed the
new law in May. It marked the end of a bitter, four-year struggle
between liquor store owners and lawmakers in the state with the highest
rate of alcohol-related traffic deaths.

Supporters argue it will reduce the state’s abominable
drunken-driving record — the worst in the nation — and reduce the
number of teenagers buying alcohol illegally.

Retailers — about 230 in all — say it will put undue strain on
their businesses and have little to no effect on drunken drivers. They
also say the ban’s enactment was little more than election year

A July 30 letter from the state told drive-up owners that no
products can be sold through the windows, not even non-alcoholic goods
including snacks and cigarettes. Drive-through businesses such as
pharmacies and fast-food restaurants, which do not operate on liquor
licenses, will not be affected.

“Now we can’t even sell lottery tickets or candy or Cokes out of the
window — but look at McDonald’s,” said Chris Southern, owner of a
liquor store in eastern New Mexico.

State regulators and police planned sweeps over the next few days to
enforce the ban. A business caught selling liquor through a window
could be fined $10,000, with second offenses possibly bringing jail

Retailers plan to appeal a court decision upholding the law.

New Mexico is No. 1 in per capita alcohol-related traffic deaths,
with 11.79 deaths per 100,000 people in 1996, the last year for which
figures were available. That’s 19 percent higher than Mississippi, the
next highest state.

DUI Attorneys |