Pennsylvania law affects shipping alcohol in state via Postal Service
By Aaron Aupperlee
Published: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013, 7:54 p.m.
The Postal Service wants to start shipping booze through the mail in an effort to infuse millions of dollars of revenue into the ailing federal mail service.
But before a bottle of wine could be delivered alongside bills and birthday cards, lawmakers would need to significantly overhaul rules restricting shipping alcohol in the state.
“If the U.S. Postal Service would grant the ability to do that, there would definitely have to be some changes to Pennsylvania law,” said Capt. Troy Lokhaiser, head of the state police's Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said customers might want to mail home bottles of wine from a vineyard they visited. The agency has looked at providing special boxes holding two to six bottles and flat-rate shipping anywhere in the country.
Delivering alcohol could raise as much as $50 million a year, Donahoe said. The agency lost $16 billion last year.
“There's a lot of money to be made in shipping beer, wine and spirits,” Donahoe said. “We'd like to be in that business.”
Federal law bans mailing alcohol through the USPS, but legislation aimed at revitalizing the agency could change that. The Senate passed a bill last year that included a provision to allow shipping alcohol. A competing bill that passed through a House committee did not permit the USPS to deliver alcohol.
The Senate provision, however, required that all shipments comply with any state laws from where the shipment originated and to where it was delivered. That is where Pennsylvania law could stop some deliveries.
Wineries and distilleries must be licensed with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to ship within the state, Stacy Kriedeman, a spokeswoman for the agency, wrote in an email.
Manufacturers must use a delivery service specially licensed by the state to transport alcohol. The USPS would have to apply for a delivery license.
Pennsylvanians may order wine and spirits from a state-run website, www.finewineandgoodspirits.com, and have it shipped either to their address or a Fine Wine and Spirits store. The state uses UPS for deliveries.
All beer must be shipped from the manufacturer to a wholesaler to a retailer. Beer cannot be shipped directly from an out-of-state brewery to someone in Pennsylvania, Kriedeman said.
State laws could change. Amid a partisan debate about privatizing the state-run liquor stores, the House in late July overwhelmingly passed — only one member voted against it — a bill that would allow out-of-state wineries not already licensed by the state to sell directly to consumers. The bill creates a new category of license for direct sales.
“Consumers keep telling us they want to have wine directly shipped to their home,” said state Rep. Paul Costa, D-Wilkins, who has sponsored similar legislation in past sessions.
“There's definitely a bipartisan and, I believe, bicameral support to get this done,” Costa said.
Allowing wineries to sell directly to consumers could help Pennsylvania's wine industry, Costa said. If the state permits in-state wineries to ship directly to consumers, it must do the same for out-of-state wineries under a 2005 Supreme Court ruling.
Wineries shipped 3.18 million cases of wine directly to U.S. consumers in 2013, a $1.46 billion business, according to Wines and Vines, an industry publication.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Energy drinks, alcohol don’t mix, study finds
- Three given jail time for series of McKeesport arson fires
- Fox Chapel ooze baffles state investigators
- Pitt frats plan fines for bad grades
- Pittsburgh Poison Center warns of krokodil
- Allegheny County Council scraps capital budget
- Nation increasingly at odds over use of ‘God’
- Allegheny court employees union files unfair labor practice lawsuit
- Proposal to designate Strip District’s Produce Terminal historic in jeopardy
- $1B Christmas tree industry has deep roots in Pa.
- UPMC denies liability in Shick case