Texas Law Changes to Provide Alcohol “To Go,” Plus Beer & Wine Delivery
It has been in the news, been written about and the word is out. Starting September 1st, the laws in Texas will allow beer and wine “to go”. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code (“TABC”) received a fair amount of attention this past legislature with too many updates to count, and a review and revision to keep the Alcoholic Beverage Commission running for the next decade.
The new “to go” or off-premises provision is a very popular news bite this week in the media. The modifications to the Alcoholic Beverage Code are numerous, beginning with the replacement of the word “beer” with “malt beverage” and changing the definition of “liquor” to mean any alcoholic beverage other than a malt beverage containing alcohol in excess of 5 percent by volume; this used to be 4 percent. Currently, the TABC permits customers to take a bottle of wine home from a winery or spirits from a distillery, but not beer from a brewery. This changes in a few weeks but is limited to 288 fluid ounces. If you do the math that is 2.25 gallons of beer, or the equivalent of 4 6-packs of beer. Apparently, the executive director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild mentioned that beer-to-go will bring more visitors to the State of Texas. Can’t say when I visit a different state, I bring home beer in my luggage.
Another new provision of the law starting in September: beer and wine delivery. In June, Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1232, which allows Texas’ 10,000 beer and wine retailers to deliver right to customers’ doors. Starting in September, Chapter 25 of the TABC, new section 25.15 allows a licensed beer or wine retailer to deliver to consumers beer and wine. As you can imagine there are hundreds of Texas restaurants, cafes, coffee shops that can now deliver or use a delivery service like Amazon or Instacart to bring you lunch or dinner with beer or wine. A permit will be required though. It must be a big deal because the Governor tweeted a video announcing his signature on the bill. While the governor was tweeting to “enjoy responsibly,” the only remaining newspaper in Houston, the Chronicle, has been running a series of articles titled “Out of Control,” writing that Houston is ground zero for drunken and drugged driving.
If you haven’t read this series of articles, I highly recommend it, it might change the way you drive in Houston and the Gulf Coast.
Houston is singularly unique in that the viable forms of public transportation are extremely limited, and it is hotter than Hades here most of the year, so not much walking on sidewalks is happening. More people in more cars in a city with a lot of establishments for eating and drinking.
If you are not a fan of the newspaper, see what Texas Department of Transportation has published regarding the numbers of alcohol-related deaths.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation, a blood alcohol concentration or BAC of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood the crash risk increases exponentially. Due to this known risk, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Also according the federal agency, in the year 2017, 1,468 people died in the state of Texas as a result of intoxicated drivers that had a BAC of .08 or higher. But 1,715 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in which drivers had a BAC of .01 or higher, meaning the results are deadly below the threshold for being legally impaired. That year, nearly 11,000 people died in the U.S. in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.
Enjoying responsibly is good advice, but will allowing the delivery of alcohol affect the numbers of Texans that get behind the wheel while intoxicated, buzzed, or incapacitated? Time will tell.
I admit I am biased and if you peek at my bio, you will understand why. I live in Houston and I never drive on the freeways after 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Please do not rely on this article as legal advice. We can tell you what the law is, but until we know the facts of your given situation, we cannot provide legal guidance. This website is for informational purposes and not for the purposes of providing legal advice. Information about our municipal law practice can be found here.