Restaurants, Bars, Nightclubs: Indiana’s Other Executive Orders

The big news in Indiana right now is the stay-at-home order. Everyone knows by now that Governor Eric Holcomb has instructed Hoosiers not to go out any more than they absolutely have to, but I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss a few other executive orders that haven’t gotten quite as much attention.

The first of these is Executive Order 20-04, which was signed on March 16. This was where Governor Holcomb first ordered “restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other establishments” to stop offering dine-in services. 

Somehow, not everyone got the message. I mean, I’ve been eating take-out for more than a week, and most places don’t even want to let you in the front door, so I honestly can’t imagine what places were still open for sit-down meals—who are these people? 

Apparently it was enough of a problem that we needed Executive Order 20-10, which lays out penalties for people who thought Executive Order 20-04 wasn’t serious. This order basically says, If you keep offering dine-in services, we’re going to cite you, we’re going to fine you, and—if you still aren’t willing to play by the rules—we’re going to shut you down.

If the establishment in question is dependent on a liquor license, Executive Order 20-10 gives the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission the power to revoke this license on the spot. When it comes time for license renewal, non-compliance with the relevant executive orders may well be held against the applicant. I’m not the most experienced poker player in the world, but this doesn’t strike me as a bluff.

The final order I want to mention is Executive Order 20-11, which is actually kind of cool, as it allows for a temporary work-around for establishments that would normally be required to insist that all alcoholic beverages be consumed on the premises. In other words, this order allows for carry-out alcohol orders from restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. 

A word of warning, though: Just because we’ve bent this particular rule about alcohol doesn’t mean that police will be looking to bend others. Having an open alcohol container in your vehicle—even if you’re not intoxicated—is still a Class C infraction, which carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine. 

No one wants to be out $500 just because they cracked the seal on their growler, but things can get even worse if you can’t wait until you’re home to take a swig. If you’ve consumed alcohol while driving a car—again, even if you’re not intoxicated—this is a Class B infraction, which carries a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine. This is potentially twice as costly as the Class C infraction, and it also might open you up to a DUI / OVWI investigation.

Bottom line: If you want to make the most of Indiana’s temporary alcohol to-go policy, please wait until you’re home to start partying. In fact, don’t mess with the alcohol containers at all until you’re parked safely at your drinking destination. Be smart, play it safe, and always remember to Plead the 5th!