by Shawn Dominy
In 2020, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine enacted a cocktails-to-go policy by executive order. That order permitted customers to purchase two alcoholic drinks with each takeout meal. The policy was implemented as a way to provide restaurants and bars with additional income as they faced financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The executive order was a temporary, emergency rule. A more permanent Ohio law authorizing takeout alcoholic drinks was soon passed.
According to Ohio Revised Code 4303.185, qualified permit holders may sell alcoholic beverages by the individual drink for off-premises consumption. The cocktails are subject to a few rules:
• Drinks must be in containers that are closed and sealed.
• A meal must be sold with the drinks.
• There is a limit of three drinks per meal for each customer.
The rules for cocktails to go are not limited to the restaurants selling the beverages. Customers who purchase the beverages also are subject to regulations. Ohio law still prohibits consuming alcohol in a motor vehicle. The law applies to everyone in a motor vehicle, so not even the passenger can sample the drink on the way home. Violating this law can lead to jail sentences up to 30 days, fines up to $250 and five years of probation. ∞