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states effectively prevent out-of-state manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers from selling directly to state residents.2 Through either outright prohibitions against direct shipment or tiered distribution systems, states are able to closely regulate commerce in alcoholic beverages and limit opportunities for minors to purchase these products.

States that permit direct shipment of alcohol to consumers employ approaches that vary widely. Alaska and Missouri are alone in imposing no restrictions on the direct shipment of alcoholic beverages to consumers.3 Connecticut, Nevada, North Dakota, and the District of Columbia permit the direct shipment of liquor and beer to consumers, but strictly limit the quantity of alcoholic beverages that may be imported across their borders.4 Arizona, Nebraska, and New Hampshire permit direct shipment to consumers provided that the out-of-state seller holds a direct shipment license or permit authorizing shipments to state residents.5 Texas and Wyoming allow importation from licensed direct shippers for wine, alone, while Virginia permits licensed direct shipment for both wine and beer.6

In contrast, a few other states require the in-state consumer to receive either the express permission of the state’s alcohol control board or a license authorizing importation from outside of the state. Hawaii permits residents to import up to 5 gallons of alcoholic beverages into the state provided they obtain a prior approval in the form of a single-shipment permit issued by the state’s alcohol control board. Ohio allows importation upon completion of an application to the state liquor control board, but limits direct shipment under these conditions to beer and wine.7 Montana permits importation by residents who hold connoisseur’s licenses, but also limits shipments to beer and wine.8 Vermont allows individuals to import liquor, beer, or wine into the state if they hold a permit issued by the liquor control board; otherwise, the state grants exclusive authority to import alcoholic beverages to the control board.9

Notwithstanding the restrictions described above, most states have created statutory exceptions to their direct shipment laws to allow for private importation of wine. The 2002 Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act requires that all states permit direct shipment of wine to state residents provided that: (1) the wine was purchased while the purchaser was physically present at the winery, (2) the purchaser of the wine provided the winery verification of legal age to purchase alcohol, (3) the shipping container in which the wine is shipped is marked to require an adult’s signature upon delivery, (4) the wine is for personal use only and not for resale, and (5) the purchaser could have carried the wine lawfully into the state (or the District of Columbia) to which the wine is shipped.10 A number of states—including Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia—permit additional limited direct shipment of wine from out-of-state sellers, even beyond the conditions imposed by the federal


Ala. Admin. Code r. § 20-X-8-.03 (2005); Del. Code Ann. tit. 4, §§ 501, 526 (2005); Pa. Stat. Ann tit. 47, § 4-491 (2004).


Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, Trade Practices, available at [last visited July 12, 2005]; Mo. Rev. Stat. § 311.010 et seq. (2005); State ex rel. Nixon v. Beer Nuts, Ltd., 29 S.W.3d 828, 838 (Mo. Ct. App. 2000); S.B. 102, 90th Gen. Assem. (Mo. 1998).


Conn. Gen. Stat. § 12-436 (2004); D.C. Code Ann. § 25-772 (2005); Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 369.490 (2004); N.D. Cent. Code § 5-01-16 (2005).


Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 4-203.04 (2004); Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 53-123.15 (2005); N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 178:27 (2004).


S.B. 877, 2005 Leg. 79th Sess. (Tex. 2005); Va. Code Ann. § 4.1-112.1 (2005); Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 12-2-204 (2004).


Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 281-33.1 (2004); Ohio Department of Commerce Division of Liquor Control, Direct Shipment of Beer & Wine to Ohio Residents, available at [last visited July 13, 2005].


Mont. Code Ann. § 16-4-903 (2004).


Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 7, § 63 (2004).


H.R. 2215, 107th Cong. (2002).

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