How to Transport Alcohol Over State Lines
Can you go to jail for transporting beer?
You probably won’t. However, theoretically, it’s possible in some states.
If you’re transporting alcohol within a state, you have nothing to worry about. However, transporting alcohol over state lines is a different. Read on to ensure you and your alcohol arrive at your new home without a ticket, or worse.
Is It Legal to Transport Alcohol into a New State?
The basic answer is “maybe”. The Federal government (which controls all the states) does not care where you drive with alcohol. However, some states do care – for example, Pennsylvania prohibits bringing alcohol into the state.
The vast majority of states don’t care whether you enter, leave or stay within their lines with alcohol. In fact, since Tennessee abandoned its foolish laws against alcohol transportation two years ago, the only state that prohibits alcohol importing that I know of is Pennsylvania. But I haven’t researched the laws of every. single. state. If you’re moving to one, you should…
How to Find Out If You Can Transport Alcohol into a State
There are three resources for determining whether you can enter a state with alcohol.
- State Statutes – Each state’s laws are established in their statutes, and each state’s statutes are available for free online. Most have search functions, too, allowing you to pinpoint the term “alcohol.”
- Online Articles – Try searching online for an article about your state’s alcohol laws.
- Alcohol Sellers – Contact a liquor store or winery near the state’s border, and ask if they are familiar with the law. Considering their location and field, they probably are.
Hiding Your Alcohol
Even if the states you’ll be entering don’t care about alcohol transportation, it’s best to hide your alcohol by packing it firmly in a box(es) and putting it in the trunk. Here’s why:
- Police – If you get pulled over for running a stop sign, you generally don’t want five handles of alcohol in plain view in the back seat. Even if they are still sealed, it just doesn’t look good, and the police officer might start asking questions.
- Thieves – Alcohol is expensive, and it’s a drug. That plenty of reason for morally misguided people to break into your car.
- Protection – Packing your bottles of alcohol in soft packaging is the best way to keep them from breaking.
Can I Ship My Alcohol?
The U.S. Postal Service, UPS and FedEx all will not ship alcohol unless you are a licensed distributor. And even if you are licensed, it can be tough.
But, really, how do they know if your package contains alcohol? Truth of the matter is they probably don’t. Someone I might or might not know once mailed a bottle of Pliny the Elder to his grandfather 2,000 miles away, and no one cared in the least. Additionally, beer enthusiasts commonly mail beers to each other, because, for example, Minnesota’s finest brewery may not distribute in California.
Nevertheless, it’s not allowed, and if discovered, your package could be confiscated or worse.