Online Alcohol

Kosar and Dieterle on the Meaning of the Tennessee Wine SCOTUS Case

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As we noted last week, the Supreme Court struck an important blow for freedom in its Tennessee Wine v. Thomas decision, which held that Tennessee’s requirement that liquor store owners be residents of the state was unconstitutional. R Street’s Jarrett Dieterle and Kevin Kosar explain in a piece for USA Today how the implications of this decision could be far reaching, especially when it comes to direct-to-consumer alcohol shipping:

Just after the 100th anniversary of Prohibition’s start — and over 85 years since its repeal — Americans could be forgiven for assuming that government remains blissfully removed from their cocktail glass. Unfortunately across the country, states and local governments still enforce a bevy of outdated and oftentimes downright silly alcohol laws. While these laws have proved notoriously difficult to get rid of, a new Supreme Court decision issued could spell the end for a broad swath of cronyist and antiquated booze rules — and perhaps be the first step toward a more national alcohol marketplace…

The court’s holding might seem limited to the unique circumstances of Tennessee’s law, but it has the potential to be a game changer in the world of booze. The biggest change could involve the shipment and transportation of alcohol.

Unlike just about every other product on the market today — nearly all of which can arrive at your door in two days — direct-to-consumer alcohol shipping is incredibly limited. While a previous Supreme Court case allowed wineries to ship their bottles to consumers in neighboring states, very few states allow out-of-state retail stores — not to mention breweries and distilleries — to engage in interstate shipments.

Under the logic of the court’s holding in Tennessee Wine, however, allowing in-state shipments of alcohol while forbidding out-of-state shipments violates the Constitution. If more of these laws are challenged accordingly, it could mean that a Michigander could soon be able to have her favorite Vermont beer shop send IPAs directly to her door…

Read the whole piece here.

ADA Actions Being Brought Against Wineries

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Several lawsuits have been brought against New York wineries for failure to make their websites compliant with the American Disabilities Act. According to Thomas Pellechia at Forbes, however, there is little certainty about what businesses must have ADA-compliant websites and even how such businesses can ensure their websites conform with ADA standards:

In a recent blog post the Napa and Sonoma law firm of Dickenson Peatman & Fogerty (DPF) a firm that deals with many legal aspects of the beverage alcohol industry explained, “ There is considerable ambiguity in the law as to which companies are required to make their websites Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant and what actually constitutes ADA compliance…

Everyone knows many wineries operate an onsite (physical) tasting room. There, ADA certainly applies. But DPF says the courts have been less than helpful in determining which businesses must make websites ADA compatible. For instance, according to DPF, “The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that a website that is not tied to a place of public accommodation or that is attached to a place that does not qualify as a public accommodation is not subject to the ADA.”

Also according to DPF, however, “… there are cases in which courts have concluded that a stand-alone website service without a physical location can itself be considered a place of public accommodation, and subject to ADA requirements.” That means that wine producers who do not have a physical location but sell through a website may need to comply.

The truly crazy part of this story is that wineries seeking to bring their websites into ADA compliance will be unable to find U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) guidelines on how to go about doing it. In an article on this subject, a DOJ spokesman told the Wine Spectator the department is “evaluating whether specific web-accessibility standards are necessary to ensure compliance with the ADA.” …

Read the whole article here.


D.C. Implements New Set of Booze Reforms

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R Street has written before about D.C.’s relatively forward thinking alcohol laws, and now the District is set to usher in a series of more reforms. According to WTOP, D.C. alcohol producers will now be able to collaborate with one another and also sell their products online:

Craft brewers, distilleries and wineries in the District can have more parties, collaborate with other brewers and sell beers other than their own in their tasting rooms under a new District law that took effect Tuesday.

D.C. residents can now order craft beers from local brewers online.

The Omnibus Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Amendment Act of 2018 now allows manufacturers of beer, wine and spirits to create and sell collaboration products with other alcohol manufacturers, both in the District and outside of the District.

For example, breweries can now collaborate and manufacture beer with another brewery, regardless of location, and sell those collaboration beers for on-premise consumption that aren’t solely the brewer’s creation. They can also now sell collaboration beers in growlers for off-premise consumption.

Alcohol manufacturers can now also sell their products online and deliver directly to homes in the District between 7 a.m. and midnight, seven days a week…

Read the rest here.


Online Delivery Gives Consumers Independence Day Drinks

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As previously mentioned on DrinksReform, Texas allowed Amazon to expand its services to deliver booze. Now, a Texas grocer is using an online platform to offer same day booze services. Thankfully, this came just in time for Independence Day:

Heading into the Fourth of July holiday, H-E-B has launched same-day delivery for beer and wine order via its Favor e-commerce subsidiary.

The service kicked off just before the weekend in the greater San Antonio, Austin, Corpus Christi and Houston markets, the Texas supermarket chain said. Plans call for Favor to make the service available in more than 30 cities, with free one-hour delivery for beer and wine orders through Labor Day.

To order beer and wine for delivery, customers download the Favor app and tap on the H-E-B Beer & Wine banner or go online to FavorDelivery.com. Orders require a Runner tip, set at a minimum of $2, and the delivery charge for beer and wine is automatically waived.

Read more here

Arizona Cracks Down On ... Late Night Online Booze Sales?

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Many states have restrictions on the hours in which liquor retailers can sell booze. Arizona is no exception, making it illegal to "sell, dispose of, deliver or give alcoholic beverages between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m." But in a move that will surely have implications for the future of the online booze economy, the state Attorney General has said that this restriction also applies to online alcohol sales:

[T]he way Attorney General Mark Brnovich sees it, you can't get on your computer and order booze between 2 and 6 a.m., even if you're not planning to have your order delivered until more reasonable hours -- and even if that order is going out of state.

The reason all this became a legal issue is because of questions raised John Cocca, director of the state Department of Liquor Licenses and Control. He said the way people buy beer, wine and hard liquor is changing.

"There are a lot more Internet sales and a lot more people ordering alcohol over the Internet or via the computer or over the phone,'' he said.

Web sites in particular operate on a 24/7 basis. They don't even require there be a live body at the other end...

Arizona's liquor laws apply not to individuals but instead to the sellers who all have to be licensed by the state. That includes out-of-state firms that need to get a permit before delivering their products here.

And that means it's the retailer who took that order at 3 a.m., Arizona time, who could wind up in legal hot water...

Read more here.

R Street's Jarrett Dieterle has previously written about the future of the online booze economy for Forbes.