If you like alcohol and have a hard time planning ahead, Sunday was your day.
Alcohol sales for the purpose of off-premise consumption on Sundays became legal in Dothan for the first time at 1 p.m. Sunday. Dothan voters who went to the polls during the recent citywide election approved the measure by a margin of about 61 percent to 39 percent against.
The measure effectively allows convenience stores and other places where alcohol is sold and taken off premise to sell the product an additional 11 hours. The new law allows alcohol to be sold on Sundays between 1 p.m. and midnight.
Paul Danzie, who manned the register at Fast Stop Liquors on Ross Clark Circle Sunday afternoon, described the first Sunday afternoon traffic as “brisk.”
Danzie said most of the early customers were not impulse buyers.
“A lot of the people who have come in here are just coming to exercise their right,” Danzie said, adding that one of his first customers was a man who came to buy a tiny bottle of Jagermeister “just because he could.”
Danzie said he does not believe the additional 11 hours of sales will result in a large increase in consumption.
“I am a big believer that you are who you are,” Danzie said. “If you are a social drinker Monday through Saturday, then you will be a social drinker on Sunday. And, if you are a heavy drinker, then you are going to be a heavy drinker.”
Several Alabama cities have addressed the issue recently. Tuscaloosa approved Sunday sales in 2011 by a margin of 78 percent to 22 percent. The Anniston City Council approved Sunday sales in May.
As of last year, 12 counties and five cities allowed Sunday alcohol sales in some form — on-premise, off-premise or both.
Some proponents of Sunday sales believe allowing alcohol sales on Sundays could increase tax revenue, while other proponents simply believe it is a matter of personal freedom.
Pastors from several local Baptist churches spoke against the matter earlier this year before the Dothan City Commission unanimously voted to ask the Legislature to pave the way for a citywide vote.
Some of the pastors said that while the city may gain an extra bit in tax revenue, the city’s pastors will receive the negative effect of extra sales with more broken families to counsel.
Rev. Jerry Hood, pastor of Mt. Enon Baptist Church told the Commission in February he believed alcohol is too destructive to expand access.
“We need to get down to family and community. I love Dothan but I despise alcohol because I have seen what it has done to families,” Hood said.
Follow Lance Griffin on Twitter @EagleLance