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News & Press: Industry News

Shipping to out-of-state Customers

Monday, September 29, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Becky Miller
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Dear NYSLSA Members:

Due to the recent publicity surrounding Empire Wine and shipping to out-of-state customers, we thought it would be helpful for you to see what States are legal to ship to and also what the laws state regarding shipping.     

Below are pieces of an article that was published in the Beverage Media. It states clearly that we cannot ship into a State in violation of that State's laws. Before we ship we should contact the respective State to find out what, if any, restrictions they have. The article also states that there are no specific laws in New York regarding shipping to another state but if that State is not on the list that allow it, the retailer broke the law of that specific State in which case, as stated below, The State Liquor Authority has the right to bring charges for improper conduct. New York DOES NOT qualify for States which require reciprocal shipping agreements because New York does not allow any State to ship in with the only exception of out-of-state wineries who can ship only the wine of the specific winery that is doing the shipping. Section 105 (9) of New York’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, which governs, licenses for the sale at retail for off premise consumption provides, "No retail licensee for off-premises consumption shall deliver any liquors or wines except in vehicles owned and operated by such licensee, or hired and operated by such licensee from a trucking or transportation company registered with the liquor authority, and shall only make such deliveries at the premises of the purchaser.” The section requires that beverage alcohol be sold and delivered from the licensed premise in vehicles owned or leased and operated by the licensee or operated by a trucking company with a trucking permit issued by the New York State Liquor Authority.

There is no one specific provision in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law that prohibits a package store from shipping alcoholic beverages to a consumer outside of the state.  However, Section 53.1 of the New York Alcoholic Beverage Control Law Regulations provides:

    Any license or permit issued pursuant to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Law may be revoked, canceled or suspended for the following causes:
    (n) For improper conduct by the licensee or permittee, and if a corporation, by an officer, director or person directly or indirectly owning or controlling 10 percent or more of its stock, or an officer, director or person directly or indirectly owning or controlling 10 percent or more of the stock of any parent, affiliate or subsidiary of such licensed corporation, whether such conduct was on or off the licensed premises, and which conduct is of such nature that if known to the authority, the authority, in its discretion, could properly deny the issuance of a permit or license or any renewal thereof because of the unsatisfactory character and/or fitness of such person.

In other words, the New York State Liquor Authority may revoke, cancel or suspend a license if it finds the licensee has engaged in conduct which, in the Authority’s discretion demonstrates that the licensee lacks the necessary character and fitness to hold a license.
Under federal law (The Webb Kenyon Act 27 U.S. Code §122) it is illegal to ship or transport beverage alcohol from one state into another in violation of the laws of the destination state.   Most states forbid out of state retailers from shipping to consumers in their state.  Moreover, each jurisdiction that permits such sales has its own rules related to the sale. For instance:

California and New Mexico only allow shipments of two cases of wine per month to any adult resident in this state provided it comes from states which afford California licensees and equal reciprocal privilege. New York does not. On the other hand, in Granholm v Heald (125 S. Ct. 1885) the Supreme Court of the United States said that such reciprocal privilege provisions are unconstitutional.
The District of Columbia requires the out of state retailer to obtain an import permit before it delivers more than one case of beer, wine or spirits to one person.

North Dakota’s law provides "… an individual twenty-one years of age or older who imports or transports into this state 7.13 gallons [27 liters] or less of wine, two hundred eighty-eight fluid ounces [8517.18 milliliters] or less of beer, or 2.38 gallons [9 liters] or less of any other alcoholic beverage per month for personal use and not for resale from a person holding a valid manufacturer’s or retailer’s license issued by the state of its domicile.”

States that allow shipment of wine to their consumers given the appropriate conditions and in some cases with an appropriate permit include: Louisiana, New Hampshire, Virginia, Michigan, Oregon, West Virginia, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Idaho, Nevada, California, Alaska, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Before shipping to a consumer in another state, a package store should call the liquor authority in the destination state and ask. The onus is on the retailer to make certain it is in compliance with the laws of the state into which it ships.