Shipping Interstate Wine is a Class 4 Felony in Illinois


In recent months, states have begun aggressive crack downs on interstate wine shipments from retail stores. According to Crain's Chicago Business, Illinois even passed a law earlier this year that made interstate wine shipments a felony:

"Say you live on the North Shore and frequent Pantheon Wine Shoppe, where you plan to buy a nice, rare Bordeaux for a valued New York client. Sorry, but unless you plan to deliver it yourself, you're out of luck.

For years, regulators have looked the other way while wine shops skirted a law prohibiting interstate liquor shipments. Many shops and wine auction houses here operated in a fuzzy gray area that allowed them to ship without consequence. But the gray area went black at the start of the year, after Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill that stiffened the penalty for interstate liquor sales, making it a Class 4 felony. For those of you keeping track, that puts the 'crime' on par with aggravated assault and stalking.

As if the fear of a felony charge and confiscation of the wine weren't enough, the nail in the coffin of interstate wine sales came when, in recent months, FedEx and UPS stopped accepting liquor shipments unless the booze is bound for one of only 14 states that permit it..." 

Read the rest here.

Illinois Policy, a think tank based in Illinois, also chimed in on the law:

"[P]unishing Illinois consumers’ demand for wine sold by out-of-state retail merchants isn’t just ill-advised for its counter-productive protectionism. The state, by repelling imports, will also forego millions in potential tax revenues, the National Association of Wine Retailers estimates.

At a time when Illinois ought to be working to attract businesses and facilitate commerce, it instead cements its position among states hostile to out-of-state alcohol shipping.

Consumers and retailers alike are fighting back against the sweeping interstate prohibition trend, including in Illinois. A Cook County resident, for example, was listed as a plaintiff in one lawsuit filed against the state by an Indiana-based wine merchant. The suit was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge in Chicago; however, lawyers plan to appeal, according to Crain’s.

Perhaps Illinois retailers and consumers should ring in 2018 with a toast to efforts to repeal these restrictive laws..."

More here.

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle previously wrote about interstate wine shipments, the internet, and the alcohol industry for Forbes (here).