On Demand

An Overview of Direct-to-Consumer Alcohol Delivery and Shipping


Created on May 10, 2021





Even before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, consumers were turning to online ordering and at-home delivery as an alternative to conventional in-person retail shopping. Alcohol beverages were relatively slow to the direct-to-consumer revolution sweeping other consumer goods, although the wine industry led the way within the industry. Slow adoption may have partially arisen from the relatively conservative nature of the alcohol beverage industry and the heavy shipping weight of beverages, but a major and likely paramount factor flowed from the complex web of federal, state, and local laws making delivery or shipment of alcohol difficult or outright illegal.  

The slow advance towards a click-and-deliver market for alcohol became turbocharged by the pandemic. Temporary delivery rights were established by executive order or other emergency measures in many states, and law changes have already extended or made permanent expanded direct-to-consumer rights in a number of states.  

This program, taught by Marc Sorini, General Counsel of The Brewers Association, will provide an overview of direct-to-consumer alcohol beverage delivery and shipping laws, including:

  • The distinction between laws authorizing "delivery" versus "shipment"

  • The different state of legal evolution between wine, beer, and distilled spirits

  • Dormant Commerce Clause limitations on state laws governing direct shipment

  • The "passage of title" business model

  • The "bricks-and-clicks" business model

  • The "third party provider" business model

  • The political landscape for further expanding direct-to-consumer sales

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize the important distinctions in current direct-to-consumer sales laws

  2. Explore key legal and policy considerations policy makers must face in updating alcohol laws for a click-and-deliver marketplace

  3.  Review the legal underpinnings of the various models for direct-to-consumer shipping

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