Alcohol laws of Maine

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Location of Maine

Alcohol laws of Maine regulate the sale and possession of alcohol in the state of Maine in the United States. Maine is an alcoholic beverage control state.

The serving of alcohol in the State of Maine is supervised by the State Liquor and Lottery Commission. The Commission consists of five members appointed by the Governor of Maine and confirmed by the Maine Legislature. They meet monthly to provide public oversight and review of the performance and operational activities of the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO).[1]

BABLO is responsible for regulating the business practices of the alcohol industry, creating a favorable economic climate for the industry, and prohibiting sales to minors. They also lease the State monopoly on the warehousing and distribution of distilled spirits and fortified wines; the lease is currently held by the Maine Beverage Company, which signed a 10-year lease in 2004.[2] A new 10-year lease was awarded to Maine Beverage Company's subcontractor, Pine State Trading Co, to take effect on July 1, 2014. It is expected that the new lease, which was designed to generate money to pay debt owed to Maine hospitals, will allow prices to be reduced on popular spirits in an attempt to prevent the loss of sales to New Hampshire, which has lower prices and no sales tax.[3]

The Maine Department of Public Safety, through the Maine State Police's Liquor and Licensing Division, is responsible for licensing the manufacture, importation, storage, transportation and sale of all liquor. They also administer those laws relating to licensing and the collection of taxes on malt liquor and wine.[4]

Title 28-A of the Maine Revised Statutes contains the laws and rules regulating liquor.[5]

Sales restrictions[edit]

Time and practices[edit]

Alcohol may be sold between the hours of 6 a.m. and 1 a.m. of the following day. On Sundays, sales may occur from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. the following day. On New Year's Day, alcohol may be sold until 2 a.m.

Liquor may be consumed in establishments licensed for on-premises consumption until 1:15 a.m., with the exception of New Year's Day when it is 2:15 a.m.[6] If St. Patrick's Day falls on a Sunday, sales in bars and restaurants may occur starting at 6 a.m.[7]

It is illegal to distribute alcoholic beverages for free, as well as serving a customer more than two beverages at a time. Practices designed to get customers to drink more, such as drinking games, are prohibited, as is the awarding of drinks as prizes.[8]

Place[edit]

Sales of Alcohol were once only permitted from state-owned stores, but the laws establishing the stores were repealed in 1991 and the stores gradually closed.[9] Privately owned stores now obtain licenses to operate as "Agency Liquor Stores".[10] Establishments selling liquor may not be within 300 feet of an existing school or church [11] unless a public hearing is held near the proposed location of the establishment, or the establishment is in a downtown area.[12]

Liquor may be sold from mobile carts on golf courses.[13]

The Governor of Maine or BABLO may order liquor stores closed in the event of riots, flooding, or a hurricane.[14]

Advertising[edit]

Maine law stated that bars are not permitted to display the alcohol content of beverages(though they may state it verbally) or use certain phrases such as "high test" or "high proof" in a display.[15] The original reasoning behind the law, passed post-Prohibition in 1937, was that if bars displayed the strength of their liquor, consumers would drink more of it. Modern establishments, however, stated that giving consumers such information helps them to better control their alcohol consumption.[16] After bars pressured the Legislature in February 2014 to attempt to repeal the law, Director Reid of BABLO rewrote enforcement policy to state that merely listing the alcohol content would not be punished, though it still will be if the listing is embellished with descriptive language.[17] The law was repealed on April 8, 2014, and became law without Governor Paul LePage's signature, thus allowing bars and restaurants to list the alcohol content of their beverages on menus and signs. [18]

Advertisements for liquor in media must be approved by BABLO, and it is prohibited to use an image of the Maine State House in liquor advertising.[19]

Drinking Age[edit]

The legal age to purchase and consume alcohol in Maine is 21, which was instituted in 1987.[20] Minors may consume alcohol at home in the presence of the minor's parents.[21] Minors may not transport liquor unless required due to the minor's employment, or at the request of their parent, guardian, or custodian.[22]

Taxes[edit]

Taxes on liquor at store level are included within the price and calculated by BABLO in order to raise enough money to cover their expenses and generate money for the State General Fund at an amount at least equal to that of the previous year.[23]

In addition, per-gallon excise taxes are also levied on the manufacture and sale of liquor. The amount varies depending on the type of liquor.[24]

Local laws[edit]

Municipalities in Maine may, by local referendum, prohibit the sale of alcohol within the municipality, and have been able to since the end of Prohibition in 1933. They may do so for both or either on and off-premises consumption.[25] The most recent town to change its liquor laws was Sedgwick which voted to allow the sale of alcohol for on-premises consumption at its March 13, 2013 town meeting. In 2012, Cushing voted to allow the sale of alcohol. According to the State Police, there are still 56 dry towns in Maine.[26]

Driving[edit]

The legal limit for drunk driving in Maine is .08%. Teenage drivers may have no alcohol in their system. Maine also has an implied consent law, interpreting the refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test at the request of a police officer as failing such a test.[27]

Drinking alcohol in a motor vehicle is prohibited. Open containers of alcohol are generally prohibited. One exception is in vehicles without trunks if the container is placed in an area not normally occupied by the driver or passenger, or behind the last upright seat in the vehicle. They are also permitted for passengers in vehicles for hire (except taxicabs), the living quarters of a mobile home, trailer, semitrailer, or truck camper, and in vehicles operated by a licensed caterer who is transporting the alcohol to or from an event.[28]

Other[edit]

Persons under the influence of alcohol may not possess firearms in bars and restaurants. Such establishments also may, but are not required to, prohibit firearms from all customers in their establishment.[29]

Liquor and public intoxication are not permitted in Maine state parks.[30] Public intoxication and in some cases consumption are also not permitted in Acadia National Park per federal law. [31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ State Liquor and Lottery Commission
  2. ^ Mission of BABLO
  3. ^ "Maine awards new 10-year liquor contract, expects to double return". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  4. ^ Maine State Police Liquor Licensing Division
  5. ^ Liquor Statutes and Rules
  6. ^ Title 28-A, Section 4, Business days and Hours
  7. ^ "LePage signs St. Patrick’s Day bill". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved March 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ Section 709
  9. ^ Location of facilities (repealed)
  10. ^ Title 28-A, Section 451, Agency Liquor Stores
  11. ^ Proximity to churches and schools
  12. ^ Public Law Chapter 269
  13. ^ Title 28-A, Section 1012, Other retail licenses
  14. ^ Closed in cases of riots, hurricanes, flood
  15. ^ Title 28-A, Section 711
  16. ^ "State law prevents Maine bars, brewers from posting alcohol by volume content". Bangor Daily News. February 1, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  17. ^ "It’s simple: Maine’s fix for 77-year-old law preventing bars from listing alcohol content". Bangor Daily News. February 11, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Updated Maine beer law allows bars to display alcohol content". Kennebec Journal. April 8, 2014. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
  19. ^ Title 28-A, Section 6
  20. ^ Definition of minor in Maine alcohol laws
  21. ^ Title 28-A, Section 2051, Prohibited Acts by Minors
  22. ^ Title 28-A, Section 2052, Illegal transportation by minors
  23. ^ Title 28-A, Section 1651, Consumer's tax
  24. ^ Title 28-A, Section 1652, Excise tax on malt and wine
  25. ^ Title 28-A, Section 123, Local option questions
  26. ^ Moretto, Mario (March 13, 2010). "Voters pave way for expanded liquor service in Sedgwick". Bangor Daily NEws. Retrieved March 30, 2010. 
  27. ^ Title 29-A, Section 2411, Major offenses - Suspension and Revocation Heading: PL 1993, C. 683, PT. A, §2 (NEW); PT. B, §5 (AFF)
  28. ^ Open container; drinking in a vehicle prohibited
  29. ^ Title 17-A, Section 1057, Possession of firearms in an establishment licensed for on-premises consumption of liquor
  30. ^ Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands rules for State Parks
  31. ^ http://www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/goodsandservices.htm