Gwinnett commission extends Sunday package alcohol sale hours

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners this week extended the hours that package stores can sell alcohol on Sundays.

Sunday sales previously began at 12:30 p.m. in unincorporated Gwinnett and ended at 11:30 p.m., but the commission unanimously voted to expand the times from 11 a.m. to midnight, the maximum allowable under state law.

Recent updates to state law allow local governments to expand Sunday sale hours by resolution or ordinance without the need to hold a referendum. Cities set their own alcohol ordinances.

The Gwinnett County Commission also voted to allow beer and wine delivery from licensed package stores and curbside pickup of mixed drinks that accompany food orders in certain circumstances.

Prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, the state began allowing alcohol delivery in 2020 and to-go cocktails last year, but local governments can opt out. People can only order alcohol from stores in their taxing jurisdiction, meaning residents of unincorporated Gwinnett can’t order from stores in incorporated cities or other counties, and vice versa.

In a resolution, the Gwinnett commission said enabling beer and wine delivery and extending Sunday sales “would expand business opportunities for local retailers and provide greater convenience for residents.”

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County Attorney Michael Ludwiczak first introduced the changes last month, but the commission tabled them to address concerns about enforcing age requirements for alcohol delivery and curbside pickup.

Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson said a special investigations unit of the Gwinnett County Police Department performs compliance checks on businesses, but officers might need updated training to enforce the new laws.

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“We need to make sure that we’re on the cutting edge with regards to enforcement,” Hendrickson said. “Wanting to prohibit and prevent underage access to alcohol should be at the top of our minds, without being prohibitive to businesses.”

Hendrickson used to lead the Drug-Free Communities effort in Gwinnett.

“This, of course, is near and dear to me,” she said.