House advances proposed ban on energy drinks

By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A ban on alcohol-laced energy drinks is a routine vote away from moving forward in the South Carolina Legislature.

The House on Wednesday voted 102-13 to outlaw drinks such as Joose and Four Loko, which has been nicknamed blackout in a can. The measure needs a routine final vote before going to the Senate.

Republican state Rep. Thad Viers of Myrtle Beach said the beverages are dangerous because people are more likely get drunk but feel sober enough to drive while using them.

Meanwhile, a House Judiciary panel approved a bill that loosens open-container liquor penalties for drivers. It would end suspension of driver's licenses for people convicted of having open liquor containers or drinks in their cars. Open container charges would still apply.

They're made to pump you up and give you a buzz at the same time. "We gotta do something," said Camden Mayor Jeffrey Graham. "Alcohol and energy drinks, its just a bad combination."

Although it's not official city business, the town's mayor says he's joined a county-wide grassroots push in stores and in schools to run the amped up booze out of town.

"We're hoping that this pro-action, folks in the community will see hey we don't know these, you can do something else," said Graham.

When you hear about those energy drinks with alcohol, you hear about the 'craze.' Not everyone jumped on the bandwagon, like a nearby family-owned party shop.

Before the county push and the bad press, Ralph Cantey had a hunch. "I don't know, they just tried to sell it to us and my son and myself just got to thinking about it and thought it was a bad idea to put that much caffeine and alcohol together," said Cantey.

All South Carolina shops may soon follow suit. A law to make the drinks illegal could pass later this year, but later is not soon enough in Camden. "Hopefully it'll catch on and people will realize how dangerous it is," said Graham.

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