Alcohol laws of Maryland

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Alcohol laws of Maryland are unique in that they vary considerably by county, due to the wide latitude of home rule granted to Maryland counties.

State laws[edit]

Underage possession and consumption[edit]

It is illegal under state law[1] for a person under the age of 21 to possess or consume an alcoholic beverage, but the law contains several exceptions:

  • Underage individuals who are employees of businesses that hold a valid state-issued liquor license may possess (but not consume) alcohol in the course of their job during regular business hours. Common examples are serving alcoholic drinks to customers of a restaurant, making deliveries for a catering company, and stocking shelves at a store that sells alcohol.
  • Alcohol may be possessed or consumed by an underage person in a private residence so long as it is furnished or allowed by a member of that person's immediate family (typically a parent).
  • Alcohol may be consumed as part of a religious ceremony, such as the Roman Catholic or Episcopal Communion rite.

It is also a separate offense for an underage person to misrepresent their age for purposes of obtaining alcohol,[2] and to merely possess any sort of card or document that falsely identifies the person's age.[3] An underage person who illegally possesses alcohol or false identification is subject to a citation rather than arrest, and the event is considered a civil offense, meaning that it does not count as a criminal conviction and cannot result in imprisonment in and of itself.[4] This is because the reason for the drinking age in the first place is that the law does not consider individuals under 21 to be responsible enough to consume alcohol unsupervised, and therefore holding them fully criminally responsible would be paradoxical.

Furnishing alcohol to underage persons[edit]

Except for the exceptions provided in the previous section, Maryland's law also makes it illegal for anyone to purchase alcohol for someone under 21,[5] or to give it to them. Both these laws require that the defendant knew the person was under 21, and that they purchased or furnished it for the purpose of that underage person consuming it. In addition, it is also illegal for an adult who owns or leases property, and lives at that property, to knowingly and willfully allow anyone under 21 to consume alcohol there, unless they are members of the same immediate family. This law does not necessarily make homeowners criminally responsible for any illegal drinking at their residence, unless they were both aware of it and intentionally allowed it to happen.[6]

Taxation[edit]

In July 2011, Maryland's taxation of alcohol was increased for the first time since the 1970s, from 6 percent to 9 percent.[7] This taxation is applied at the consumer level, appearing as a line-item on the customer's receipt.[7]

County laws[edit]

County Alcoholic beverage control county Alcohol sale hours Grocery Store Sales Notes
Beer Wine Spirits On-premises Off-premises Beer Wine Spirits
Allegany County No Unknown No
Anne Arundel County No Unknown No
Baltimore City No 6am-2am (6am-1am for taverns) 6am-12am (Mon-Sat) No No Sunday sales, except for those Sundays between Thanksgiving and New Years upon issuance of special license.
Baltimore County No 6am-2am (6am-1am for Class D beer/wine licenses) 6am-12am (Mon-Sat) No No off-premises Sunday sales, except for the Sunday preceding Christmas Day and the Sunday preceding New Year's Eve, between 7am-9pm.[8]
Calvert County No Unknown No
Caroline County No Unknown Unknown
Carroll County No Monday - Saturday 8AM-11PM; Sunday 11AM-8PM No No retail off-premise store may be larger than 10,000 square feet.

[9]

Cecil County No 6am-2am Mon-Sat, 10am-11pm Sun 6am-2am Mon-Sat, 8am-11pm Sun Rarely Only one liquor license per store/corporation
Charles County No Unknown No
Dorchester County No Unknown No
Frederick County No 6am-2am Mon-Sat, 11am-2am Sun[10] No An off-premises license may not be issued to any franchised establishment.[10]
Garrett County No Unknown Unknown
Harford County No 8 a.m.- 2 a.m. No
Howard County No Unknown No
Kent County No Unknown Unknown
Montgomery County Yes Unknown Spirits stores: Monday to Thursdays 10:00am to 9:00pm Friday & Saturday 10:00am to 10:00pm Sundays (See Notes). Beer and wine stores: 10:00am to 1:00 am No (four grocery stores grandfathered;[11] see note) The Department of Liquor Control operates its liquor dispensaries on Sundays from Noon (12:00pm) to 6:00pm.[12]
Prince George's County No Unknown Beer & Wine (each corporation may sell beer and wine at only one location)
Queen Anne's County No Unknown No
Saint Mary's County No Yes All yes
Somerset County Yes Unknown Unknown
Talbot County No Unknown Yes
Washington County No Unknown No
Wicomico County Yes Unknown Yes
Worcester County Yes Unknown Yes

Note: Four Montgomery County grocery chains — Giant Food, Safeway, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, and Magruder's — received an exception from the state law that bans grocery stores from selling beer and wine under a grandfather clause.[13] These four are allowed to have one location that sells beer and wine in Montgomery County: Giant’s New Hampshire Avenue store in Silver Spring, Safeway in Olney, Shoppers in Germantown, and Magruder's in Gaithersburg.[13] These licenses can be transferred to any of the chain’s other locations in Montgomery County subject to approval by the county Board of License Commissioners.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Criminal Code § 10-114. "Underage possession"". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "Criminal Code § 10-113. "Misrepresentation of age."". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Criminal Code § 10-115. "False documentation"". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  4. ^ "Criminal Code § 10-119. "Citation"". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Criminal Code § 10-116. "Obtaining for underage consumption"". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  6. ^ "Criminal Code § 10-117. "Furnishing for or allowing underage consumption"". Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Aaron, Nathans (9 July 2011), "Del. package stores hope to benefit from Md. tax", The News Journal (New Castle, Delaware), archived from the original on 11 July 2011 
  8. ^ "Liquor Board Rules and Regulations". Baltimore County Board of Liquor License Commissioners. 19 September 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Liquor Board Rules and Regulations". Carroll County Board of Liquor License Commissioners. Retrieved 29 August 2014. 
  10. ^ a b http://frederickcountymd.gov/documents/39/2009Regs.PDF
  11. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control. 2008-07-11. Archived from the original on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-06. 
  12. ^ Montgomery County Expands Sunday Sales to Liquor Stores
  13. ^ a b c Kristi Tousignant. "Briggs Chaney Will Lose Beer and Wine Sales at Grocery". The Gazette. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 20 April 2013.