A bill to ban the distribution of alcoholic energy drinks moved on to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration Thursday. The S.C. House of Representatives voted unanimously to send the bill to committee. Under the terms of the bill, merchants selling the souped-up energy drinks could face fines of $100 to $500 and jail terms from 30 days to six months, as well as the loss of alcohol licenses for two years. Products affected include Four Loko and Joose, packaged in cans or bottles as large as 32 ounces and generally contain 9 to 12 percent alcohol by volume. Federal authorities issued warning letters to the manufacturers of such drinks, saying that the combination of caffeine and alcohol is dangerous and causes consumers to become "wide-awake drunk." Four Loko was blamed for nine Central Washington University students' hospitalizations after an off-campus party last October and 23 New Jersey college students' hospitalizations after a September party. Most of the alcoholic energy drinks contain a malt liquor, though a few contain liquor. "We carry the Four Loko, and we sell a lot of it here," said sales associate Minesh Patel at the 3 Way Food Mart on Silver Bluff Road. "It's not going to hurt us if this ban happens; they'll just move on and buy something else." The popularity of the energy drink is that the caffeine content makes the effect of the alcohol a little stronger than a regular beer, Patel said. "We do sell some but not very much," said Harvard Wine & Beverage manager Tony Suh. "It comes in cans; it's very cheap, and the alcohol content is too high. It's very sweet, and people don't realize how much they're drinking." Palmetto Package Shop only carries one liquor-laced energy drink, but owner Missie Boisvert isn't pleased about the bill. "What we carry is called Wide-awake. It's about 30 percent alcohol or 60 proof, and nobody's ever bought it," she said. "But I kind of think if we start banning one thing, we'll start banning more things and end with a dry South Carolina. I'm not really into banning things. If people want to purchase something, they should be able to, and I don't want the stores that carry a lot of this to lose that business or the state to lose the revenue from it." The Associated Press contributed to this article. Contact Suzanne Stone at sstone@aikenstandard.com.