Challenge to Arizona Wine-Shipping Laws

The Institute for Justice, based in Washington, DC, has sued the state of Arizona in U.S. District Court, asking that the state’s law prohibiting interstate shipment of wine to consumers be overturned. Arizona consumers can order wine from out of state via mail order, telephone, or the Internet, but the wine has to go through the state’s three-tier retailing system first. The wine must be shipped to a distributor, who then turns it over to a retailer. Only then can the customer take delivery of the product. The Institute for Justice, a non-profit law firm, filed the lawsuit on behalf of a vineyard in Leesburg, Virginia. The Institute contends that the law protects distributors and in-state liquor producers, who are allowed to ship directly to Arizona buyers. A lobbyist for Arizona’s Wholesale Beer and Liquor Association defended the practice, saying that state laws that govern liquor sales provide for tax collection and enforcement of the legal drinking age, and claimed that taxes on wine purchases made by Arizona consumers would be almost impossible to collect if out-of-state wines are allowed to be shipped directly to consumers.