Florida Senate passes 'alcohol to-go' bill

The Florida Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would make permanent a move that has allowed restaurants to sell alcoholic drinks with take-home meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate voted 38-2 to approve the measure (SB 148), sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Bradley, R-Fleming Island.

The dissenting votes were cast by Sen. Lauren Book D-Plantation, and Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville. Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order last year that allowed what has become known as "alcohol to go" as a way to help restaurants that were forced to scale back operations in the early stages of the pandemic.

The bill would make that practice permanent. It would cap individual alcohol container sizes at 32 ounces and require motorists to place drinks in locked compartments, vehicle trunks or in areas behind the last upright seats in vehicles. A similar House bill (HB 329), sponsored by Rep. Josie Tomkow, R-Polk City, is ready for consideration by the full House.