Originally created 09/01/01

Keg law lengthens liquor lines



Just as tailgating season kicks off, a new beer-keg registration law is resulting in longer liquor-store lines and higher prices, package store vendors said Friday.

"Your time for kegs now has gone up considerably," said Sachin Patel, co-owner of the Five Points Bottle Shop in Athens. "Before you'd be in and out in no time at all."

The law, in effect since July 1, requires keg buyers to fill out a form, providing their name, address and where the beer will be drunk.

State legislators passed the law to make the buyer legally responsible for anyone underage caught drinking from the keg.

Mr. Patel said the added paperwork means tailgaters should expect longer lines when purchasing a keg - especially on football game days, when Mr. Patel says his store sells more than 200 kegs. The University of Georgia holds its first football game of the year today against Arkansas State University.

The decal used to track keg purchases also has resulted in a price increase at some stores. Most Athens package stores have tacked on a $15 deposit for the sticker.

Each store decides whether to charge a deposit for the decal and how much, said Charles Willey, director of public information for the Georgia Department of Revenue. To date, nearly 18,000 decals have been issued to 155 stores throughout the state, he said.

To reclaim the keg deposit, the buyer must return the keg with the decal still legible and intact.

Even though his customers are spending more time in line, Bob Niggles, assistant manager of Habersham Beverage in Savannah, said he isn't worried about a loss in sales.

"It's just another thing they have to stand in line for and wait for," he said.

But Frank Eady, a salesman at the ABC Package Store in Athens, said customers have complained about the forms.

Mr. Eady said one customer who came to pick up a keg for a friend's party changed her mind after finding out she would be responsible for underage drinkers.

Mr. Eady added that keg sales are down for his store, and even the start of football season won't help them return to last year's levels.

Reach Brian Basinger at (404) 589-8424 or mnews@mindspring.com.