By Renée Jean, Business and Tourism Reporter
Another Wyoming community has added alcohol delivery laws for its business scene. The Rawlins City Council has approved an ordinance that regulates alcoholic liquors and malt beverages in closed containers, after making revisions to address concerns from the city’s police chief.
Rawlins Police Chief Michael Ward told Cowboy State Daily he’s not against the ordinance on the whole, but does worry that it creates more liabilities for the city and that delivering alcohol in general could make it easier for more underage drinkers to purchase alcohol.
“I wasn’t convinced that this was something that Rawlins needed,” he said. “I also pointed out that none of the liquor license holders in the city of Rawlins had come to council in person, either individually or collectively as a group to ask for this.”
Ward said he is OK with the city’s ordinance now that it has added safeguards, including language that makes it clear it’s the responsibility of the establishments delivering the alcohol to ensure no one underage or obviously intoxicated is able to buy it.
“The ordinance has been written so that it has to be an employee of the liquor license holder,” he said. “And we also have another ordinance that requires all of those employees to be TIPS trained.”
That training includes signs of intoxication, so that workers know whether someone should not be served additional alcohol.
“I believe that it is strong enough to protect the community (now),” Ward said. “I just expressed lingering concerns about who is going to be receiving liquor deliveries, and the benefit of allowing this to the city of Rawlins.”
Growing Number Of Cities
Cheyenne, Jackson, and Casper have also added alcohol delivery laws to their books. Meanwhile, DoorDash has added alcohol deliveries to its app, using a two-step verification process intended to check for safe alcohol consumption by drinking-age adults.
Wyoming has actually allowed alcohol deliveries since the 1960s, according to Wyoming Stat Liquor Association Executive Director Mike Moser. The passage of House Bill 13 in 2021 simply added some guard rails for legal alcohol delivery within the Cowboy State.
“It’s always been allowed,” he said. “The primary caveat being that the sale needs to take place in the liquor store and not at delivery.
Deliveries had never been a big thing in Wyoming, however, until, that is the pandemic. With it becoming more common, lawmakers decided to add some sideboards to make it clear what is and isn’t allowed.
“We put in officially who could do it. We put in where the sales need to take place,” Moser said. “(And) that the delivery person needs to be 21, and then the type of continuers you can use for example. It has to be in its original package and not opened, or in a container that either has a breakable seal or is in a plastic bag and heat-sealed closed.”
Moser said he wasn’t sure why the Rawlins ordinance evoked so much discussion, given that it’s already legal in Wyoming.
“Sometimes cities will decide to put more restrictions on,” Moser said.
Drunk Driving A Real Problem
Business owners Sara Gabriel of Deliver My Liquor 307 in Cheyenne and Arielle Trickett of Jackalope serving Casper and Cheyenne are among some of the alcohol delivery services operating in the state. They believe the alcohol delivery business model will help reduce the number of DUIs seen in communities.
Drunk driving has been a prevalent problem in the Cowboy State, based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Census Bureau, and FBI.
An analysis of 2020 data by Forbes put Wyoming as second worst state in the nation when it comes to the rate of drunk driving, just behind neighboring Montana.
According to the 2020 figures, Wyoming had 8 drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes for every 100,000 licensed drivers, and 6.67 people died in crashes involving drunk drivers for every 100,000 residents.
Police Chief Ward, however, said he sees little value in having these types of ordinances when it comes to reducing drunk driving.
“To make excuses that, you know, we’re going to have more drunk driving unless we make it easier for people to receive alcohol, I don’t think is a very good argument,” he said.