Opinion: The Highway Liquor Ban – Is It Helping Or Hurting?

You can run you can hide but you can’t escape the news of the liquor ban that’s swept the country thanks to a Supreme Court ruling. This court order, which came into effect on April 1st, amounts to a complete ban of liquor sales along both national and state highways. It also said advertisements for liquor shops shouldn’t be visible from highways.

Now, it has to be mentioned that the Supreme Court had the best intentions in mind with this ruling. Basically, the Supreme Court wanted to decrease the instances of drinking and driving on the highway which would limit accidents and deaths. However, the problem with this blanket ruling is that there are far too many loopholes which firstly, may make their ‘good intentions’ redundant while causing economic harm to the local communities.

First of all, the lack of stores in a 500-metre radius of the highway is not going to deter someone who wants to drink alcohol from drinking (because let me tell you, that is a determined man or woman). He or she would either bring alcohol with them or perhaps try and locate the nearest possible daaru point (Google Maps is a very useful thing, please don’t ban that also).

However, let’s look at the economic and practical aspects of this ruling. Many restaurants and bars (not to mention the actual liquor stores) make an enormous part of their revenue from alcohol sales. This is a fact. When that revenue is taken away from them it forces them to either run at a loss and/or fire staff or they can shut shop and try to move to another location or just cut their losses.

The problem with either scenario is that it affects the community adversely. Staff members being laid off are losing their incomes while the closures mean that revenue, which should have been coming into the community is lost thereby affecting the quality of life in their society. Rich kids who drink and drive on the roads aren’t the ones who are going to be affected, they can just buy liquor elsewhere unless a complete liquor ban is implemented (god, I hope that day never comes). It’s the people whose livelihoods have been taken away that are facing the brunt of the verdict.

While obviously, I don’t condone drinking and driving, the Supreme Court was hasty in implementing this liquor ban. The considerations of the common man were not given adequate importance, in fact, they were probably brushed aside. In that sense, it could be said that the Supreme Court is hurting to help, but, at the end of the day, it remains to be seen if we will see any ‘helping’.

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