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Changes to Alcohol Laws in Massachusetts

The state of Massachusetts has a proud history of culture. Cities, including Boston, are well-known for sports and entertainment, and the nightlife and bar scene are part of the region’s historic charm. However, many Massachusetts laws regarding alcohol have recently become subject to legislative change.

Changes to the Current Law

A state government task force is considering changing regulations and laws on the sale and consumption of alcohol. They are suggesting changing the alcohol tax and raising fines and fees for citations relating to alcohol. Such changes would ban price reductions and large sales from bulk items sold and make purchasing beer, wine, and liquor more expensive.

Previously, many people considered the alcohol laws in Massachusetts old-fashioned. Many of the laws have not been updated since 1933. One of the least popular laws states that someone who wants to purchase alcohol must have a Massachusetts driver’s license, liquor identification card, a military identification card, or a United States passport. This means that driver’s licenses from out of state are not enough to buy alcohol in Massachusetts. This limits many visitors to the state from being able to purchase beer, wine, or liquor.

There is also a law that attaches brewers and alcohol producers to the distributors they use. Alcoholic beverage producers are tethered to their distributors under current law unless they can prove that the distributor is negatively affecting the sale of their products. The task force is also working to loosen this requirement to help reduce the animosity between alcohol producers and distributors.

The Impact

A report by the state government claims that the taxes on alcohol in Massachusetts are lower than most states and that higher taxes would bring in a considerable sum of money for the government. This would lead to the larger costs for beer, wine, and liquor landing on customers, as opposed to the state government.

However, the supporters of these regulations are concerned that members of the alcohol industry will be upset about the hike in taxes, because it would significantly increase their overhead costs. To support the businesses, the task force is also working to make it easier for businesses to be able to sell wine, beer, and liquor, as opposed to only being licensed to sell one or two of them.

Another aspect of the alcohol industry that has been subject to change is the application of fines. The current fine for selling alcohol to a minor is $2,000, but the task force is recommending changing that to $2,900. The current fine for using fake identification is $300, and the task force is lobbying for that to be quadrupled.

Massachusetts state Treasurer Deborah Goldberg has chosen seven lawyers and state officials who have no attachment to alcohol sales or business in Massachusetts to run the task force. This will increase objectivity while the task force works to create these new regulations.

If the task force can find a way to pass these regulations, Massachusetts could experience changes throughout many sectors of the state, and the alcohol business could shift toward more modern rules.

For more information, call our law office at (617)-391-9001. Or if you would prefer to email us, then please visit our contact page.

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